Richard Taylor’s franchise with The London Bath Co. is
thriving in spite of the pandemic as Londoners swap
holidays, traditional high street spending and fancy
restaurants for luxury bathrooms
How are you finding running your own business as a franchisee with The London Bath Co.?
It’s hard work and the hours are long, but it’s incredibly rewarding and really exciting to see the business developing so quickly.
Now that you’ve come through lockdown and reopened to a surge in business, how do you feel?
I didn’t know what to expect when we first reopened. I was just concerned about survival to be honest, but then the phone started ringing and it hasn’t stopped since. I can honestly say I’m busier now than I was before the pandemic.
Many traditional high street retailers are struggling, but the opposite seems to be true for your business. Why do you think that is?
There are a number of factors that are making it even busier than before the pandemic. Being cooped up at home with a grotty bathroom for months on end has definitely forced the issue in some cases. Also, a lot of people haven’t been away this year or certainly haven’t had expensive holidays, so they’re spending that money on home improvements. Most builders I know are rushed off their feet at the moment.
How are you coping with demand?
My dad and my niece are helping out in the showroom, but there’s never enough hours in the day. The London Bath Co. has a ‘clicks to bricks’ business model that generates awareness online and drives footfall.
How does this benefit your business?
I actually asked head office to reduce my online advertising recently, as I can’t deal with any more inquiries at the moment. I completed my training and initially started trading while the store was still being fitted out and was busy from day one just from the inquiries generated online.
Does this business model help to even out the natural ebb and flow of demand for your services?
It’s reassuring to know that if the showroom does quieten down with passing trade I can boost inquiries simply by contacting head office and asking them to increase my online advertising budget for that month. I’ve had a pretty steady flow of business ever since I opened the doors to my showroom, but there have been times when the online enquiries have helped to fill my diary on the odd days here and there. We have a great marketing department and experts working on the company’s Google campaigns, which account for most of the inquiries we receive online.
What do you enjoy most about running your business?
I love meeting people and enjoy designing bathrooms. The CAD programme we use is intuitive and once you get the hang of it it’s really enjoyable transforming drab bathrooms into luxury, hotel style ones.
And the least?
Not having enough hours in the day.
How has the specialist support provided by The London Bath Co. given you a competitive edge?
The London Bath Co. franchise is a partnership between franchisees and head office and the support they offer is across the board.
Our online marketing is sophisticated, but we also have slick marketing materials and showroom brochures that give our clients confidence and that big company look and feel. And of course, all the fixtures and fittings are ordered directly from head office, so I can concentrate on simply designing and selling the bathrooms and managing the installation process with my clients. It’s that hands-on approach that makes the difference between using a professional company like ourselves and taking a chance and hiring your own builders with varying reliability and capability.
How would you describe the ongoing day-to-day support provided?
Support from the franchisor is always there when I need it. I don’t tend to need the constant day-to-day handholding like in the early days, but it’s reassuring to know that it’s there when I need it. The training programme includes learning to use CAD software and hands-on, in-the-field sales training learning how to sell to clients face to- face.
How helpful and comprehensive did you find this?
I used to be a bathroom fitter, so I was used to dealing with clients face-to-face, but not using CAD software. The training was great. It started with one-to-one sessions at The London Bath Co. head office in Hampstead with one of their designers to learn how to use the CAD software to design the bathrooms. Once I was up to speed, I was taught how to carry out in-home consultations. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become and after a while it quickly becomes second nature.
You’ve recently passed your first year end and even with the pandemic have exceeded your forecast and are showing healthy profits. What are your plans for the future?
Resales are really popular in franchising. There are lots of people who don’t want to start a business from scratch, so I’m building a strong financial history in the business and eventually I hope to sell it on as a profitable going concern and for a healthy profit.
What are you planning to do once you’ve sold the business?
I’ve already discussed this with our CEO. Once I’ve sold the business, I’m planning to start another franchise in a new area. I enjoy the start-up process and having done it before it should be pretty straightforward.