Mark Blunt has just launched his franchise of Jasper's Corporate Catering in Manchester. Janie Stamford found out what the new role involves
What prompted the decision to become a Jasper's franchisee? The Jasper's franchisors demonstrate passion and their product is first rate, so it really was a no brainer. The tipping point for me was their first class business management system, which allows me to focus on business development, not on distractions caused by a lack of process.
What will being a franchisee involve? Initially I'll be involved in everything from market research, to sales, pitching for new business, tailoring solutions for customers and food production. We've built a 3,500sq ft pristine production kitchen in a superb, central and funky railway arch.
What was your background prior to Jasper's? My first management roles were in West End gentlemens' clubs, followed by a few years with one of the leading contract caterers and then 10 years with Center Parcs. Most recently, I have been director of operations at Bluestone National Park Resort - Wales' only five-star Holiday Park.
How will that experience help you in your new venture? Building the Bluestone product through the recession, coupled with the focus and energy required to deliver consistently at Center Parcs, made me more resilient, tenacious and aware of the support mechanisms I need to operate successfully. I wanted to do something for myself for a few years now, but wanted to be a part of a team as well. Franchising provides the harmony of both.
What do you expect trading conditions to be like in 2012? You may find this surprising, but I expect the conditions to be great. If you have a good product, robust systems and focus on the relationships with your customers, then opportunity exists.
What are your biggest concerns? I am naturally concerned to grow the business carefully. In the UK, customers don't pay up on time, and being caused to over trade is my biggest worry right now. Growth itself will probably be painful too, as support for small businesses from councils and banks is far from good.