Three heads are better than one for Recognition Express South East Scotland, which has enjoyed an average growth rate of in excess of 10 per cent per year since 2014.
David Mitchell, son of former owner Graham Mitchell, teamed up with employees Moira Ashby and Mark Everingham to purchase the franchise when his father reached retirement age five years ago. Combining their skills, energy and expertise with ongoing franchisor support and parental advice has enabled the business to reach new heights.
According to David, outstanding customer service is the cornerstone of their success. This value is heavily emphasised to all franchisees in the network. They’re encouraged to boost differentiation and customer loyalty by providing a ‘total service experience’.
The ethos has paid dividends for Recognition Express South East Scotland, which has achieved excellent rates of organic growth with existing corporate clients.
“In the digital age, there’s always someone out there who can provide goods more cheaply than you can,” David explains. “Trying to compete on price alone is soul destroying, and ultimately it has a negative impact on quality and service levels. While we receive a lot of orders online and by email, we make a concerted effort to speak with key clients in person on a regular basis. We also take care to ensure orders are delivered on time and in good condition. It really makes a difference. Customers know we offer good value, and they trust us to meet their expectations.”
The business operates from Grangemouth, with David managing customer relationships while Moira and Mark handle the production and fulfilment of name badge orders. Promotional items and clothing are generally sourced from third parties, so David also dedicates time to managing supplier relationships.
Everybody has a specific role to play, but there is a strong team ethic and a belief in attention to detail which helps the business stand out from the competition and earn repeat orders. Most new business comes through cross-selling and word of mouth, so ensuring customers have a good experience every time they use Recognition Express is essential.
Five years after they acquired the business, the leadership team still values franchisor support and guidance. Recognition Express is part of the Bardon Group of franchises, and the team meets with MD Nigel Toplis a couple of time a year to discuss business plans and emerging opportunities. They also attend the annual Recognition Express Symposium to meet with other franchisees from around the UK.
Moira says this extended support network has been invaluable, and enables the team to stay focused.
“In the early days, it was great to know we could call on head office with any queries,” she explains. “Even now we’re in touch with them or the wider network around six times a year. It helps you to keep perspective, and it’s an opportunity to find out about new ideas and learn from examples of best practice. Being in touch with the franchisor and other franchisees really motivates us and keeps us at the head of our game.”
Graham Mitchell formerly owned the Recognition Express South East Scotland franchise for 15 years, so it’s now been in the Mitchell family for two decades. David was attracted to the business as he could see that it was a reliable and low-risk route to becoming his own boss. He also knew that Moira and Mark were committed and highly skilled, so he felt confident that the three of them would be successful together. They have worked hard to grow the business, but they are also able to fit their hours around family life.
David says that teaming up to buy the franchise enabled the three of them to achieve their business ambitions without over-stretching themselves. They brought complementary skills to the table and have a shared focus on going the extra mile for customers.
“Before taking on the franchise, I worked in the contact centre industry,” says David. “This gave me a good grounding in the importance of customer service, which meant I had synergy with the Recognition Express model from the outset. Taking care of customers and ensuring they have the best possible experience has helped us grow and develop the business.”
Facing redundancy after 20 years in a senior role for a contract caterer, Hugh O’Neill decided it was time to invest in his own future.
In the early days, it was great to know we could call on head office with any queries. Even now we’re in touch with them or the wider network around six times a year. It helps you to keep perspective, and it’s an opportunity to find out about new ideas and learn from examples of best practice. Being in touch with the franchisor and other franchisees really motivates us.Moira Ashby, Recognition Express Franchisee
The breadth of the product offering, coupled with the option to outsource production or handle it in-house, makes it a very versatile franchise option. While there’s one core model, there’s a lot of scope for a franchisee to develop it in a way that suits their own ambitions, needs and areas of interest.Hugh O’Neill, Recognition Express Franchisee
BFA Award Winner
Multiple Revenue Streams (promo to clothing to name badges to awards)