Mac Tools: The franchise opportunity

Startups talks to Chris Magson, franchise recruitment manager for successful tool franchise Mac Tools. He shares their success so far and reveals plans to acquire 35 new franchisees in 2013

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Franchise: Mac Tools
Description: Mobile tools franchise
Started in: 1938
No. of franchises: 115 in the UK
Coverage: Across the UK with full coverage in Northern Ireland
Average cost per franchise: Franchise fee: £5,000, franchise package: £50,000 including fully-fitted van, starter stock and working capital, required liquid capital: £15,000
Twitter: @Mac_Tools_UK

With a global product line in excess of 42,000 items, 115 established franchises in the UK and growth plans to acquire 35 new franchisees in 2013, it’s clear to see that Mac Tools is a force to be reckoned with in the tools franchise space.

Founded in 1938 in the USA as the Mechanics Tool and Forge Company, the company was started by seven men who wanted to manufacture the finest tools in the world.

The business grew steadily, and after officially changing its name to Mac Tools in 1963, they became part of Stanley Black & Decker in 1980.

Originally structured as a network of distributors, the business model was transferred to the UK in 1990 and in 2009 Mac Tools turned to franchising to further accelerate growth. Although the business has evolved over the years, the company philosophy remains the same as it did in 1938 and today Mac Tools still uses the direct sales approach but with a mobile sales force of franchisees.

With a 2012 Startups award under their belt for Franchisee of the Year, Startups finds out what’s next for Mac Tools and what they’re looking for in their next, potential award-winning, franchisees.

Moving into franchising

So how did Mac Tools move in to franchising?

Mac Tools’ business model in the USA was originally structured as a network of distributors and we transferred this to the UK in 1990. In 2009, we started franchising in the UK to further expand the business and allow distributors to build their own successful business with the support of an established franchisor. The majority of our distributors were transferred to become franchisees.

The franchise opportunity

What makes Mac Tools different/unique?

Being a Mac Tools franchisee is a life-changing opportunity and commitment. It gives franchisees the freedom and potential to go as far and high as their abilities and hard work will take them. They are part of a great community within the network and benefit from Mac Tools’ experience and support.

Mac Tools is part of Stanley Black & Decker, an $11b global organisation employing over 30,000 people worldwide and owner of the world famous Stanley Black & Decker, Britool Expert, Facom and DeWalt brands.

Our franchisees distribute a range of over 18,000 professional tools to customers such as car dealerships, automotive repair shops, manufacturing units, and engineering companies.

Our franchisees, staff and customers are keen motorsport enthusiasts. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Mac Tools, along with the Stanley Black & Decker group of brands, supports the trade by sponsoring the Moto GP, the British Touring Car Championship, British Superbikes, Bigfoot Monster Truck racing and the World Rally Championship.

How big is the market opportunity?

The market opportunity is fantastic in the UK with a potential market of over £150m.

How many franchisees does Mac Tools have today?

We currently have 115 franchisees in the UK and Northern Ireland.

How is the brand marketed?

Mac Tools provides professional marketing support including promotional flyers, product catalogues, information leaflets and online support to help franchisees drive sales. The exclusive sponsorship deals also provide a great basis for communication with customers, leading to increased sales through relationship building. Mac Tools franchisees also have the opportunity to attend biannual tool fairs and regional meetings where they can exchange best practice.

How do you divide the regions?

Our territories typically include around 180 automotive locations making it bigger than those of similar franchise opportunities.

The perfect franchisee

What does Mac Tools look for in potential franchisees?

We are looking for franchisees with great attitude and people skills who seek to succeed through their own hard work. We provide a high level of support and great products but, at the end of the day, it is the franchisee’s business and their work attitude that make the business a true success and that’s what we look for in our franchisees.

Previous sales and business experience give you a good head start and a basic knowledge of mechanic’s tools will help a lot. However, previous experience with tools is not essential as we have a great training programme and we already have a number of very successful franchisees who had no previous technical experience.

So do franchisees work from an office, or are they home-based? Is it part-time or full-time?

This is an exciting opportunity for you to be your own boss and work from home; to fulfil that dream of owning your own business.

Mac Tools provides you with a professionally-equipped van which will be stocked with a wide and world-class range of products for you to sell. We provide you with a database of all the known automotive relevant outlets within your territory and you will then be able to sell directly to customers by calling into their workshops on a regular and reliable basis.

How are franchisees vetted?

To ensure a successful future as a Mac Tools franchisee it is important to make sure that the Mac Tools franchise is the right opportunity for you. Therefore, we have a proven recruitment process that allows you to get to know the Mac Tools brand and business and also gives us the opportunity to get to know you. We help you identify whether there is a suitable territory available for you, answer any questions you might have, get you to take at least one van ride with a current franchisee and even help you set up your business plan and submit it to the bank. You will need available cash of £15,000 to be eligible for a Mac Tools franchise.

What do you offer franchisees that sign-up?

Mac Tools’ two-week comprehensive initial training provides franchisees with the product, sales and business and market-specific training they need to take to the road in their van.  Immediately after the two week training session the franchisee will receive a further two weeks of practical experience with a regional franchise manager in their territory to ensure they are fully prepared for their exciting new life ahead.  Franchisees receive a logbook to ensure they are meeting the objectives for their business. The logbook contains a number of attributes and skills that the franchisee has to demonstrate over six months for them to become fully qualified.

How much do franchisees pay and what are the ongoing franchise fees?

The total franchise package costs £50,000 excluding VAT (VAT is reclaimable). Unlike many other franchises, the bulk of this cost is starter stock that you will sell on at a profit. There is no charge from Mac Tools for ongoing royalties so you keep 100% of your profit.

Success and growth

How successful are some of the franchisees today?

Mac Tools franchisee John Booth has won this year’s Startups award in the Best Franchisee of the Year category. The Startups Awards are sponsored by NatWest and celebrate the success of businesses in the UK that have been trading for less than three years.

The competition for this year’s Franchisee of the Year award was fierce. John was nominated alongside successful ActionCOACH and Revive franchisees. In the end, John’s hard and consistent work over the last two years earned him the award.

Mac Tools also celebrated the success of their network at their toolfair in February. This year Matt Richmond took the tool crown as Mac Tools’ Franchisee of the Year 2012. Matt bought the franchise in 2010, after having a varied career from landscape gardening to MOT testing and has really enjoyed being master of his own destiny ever since. Matt sold £280k worth of tools over the last year.

Matt didn’t have to celebrate alone as Mac Tools rewarded a record number of franchisees across the network this year. Fifty-six of Mac Tools’ 115 UK franchisees met at least the Bronze award criteria and were awarded trophies for their outstanding performance.

How is the brand looking to grow?

Mac Tools is looking to continue their growth in 2013. In 2012, 26 franchisees joined the Mac Tools UK network and we are looking for an additional 35 franchisees in 2013.

Finally, is the company a British Franchise Association (BFA) member?

Mac Tools is a full member and was a finalist for the BFA’s Express Newspapers Brand Builder of the Year Award in 2012.

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