Riverford franchisees, Tim & Jacqui Rix bought the South Buckinghamshire home delivery business in 2011 and haven’t looked back.
Tim & I wanted to own and run our business and so buying a franchise seemed a sensible way to do this, it also meant that we had the support and back up of an established brand which made it less daunting.
Prior to taking on our Riverford franchise, Tim was the Sales & Marketing Director of TNT Post and I was a partner at an interior design company, I also worked for an Architects practice.
Before our launch date, we spent a week at Riverford’s head office, Wash farm in Devon, where we had a complete induction. The training included sessions on sales and marketing, accounting and operating the in-house management system. We got to meet all the staff that we would be dealing with daily.
After our induction, we spent some time with other Riverford franchisees, where we learnt the most about the day to day activities. It’s essential to understand how a business is run before you start.
We do feel that we constantly have the back up of head office. If we have a problem or query, they are always quick to respond!
If Tim is driving it is an early start at 5.15am! If he’s not, the start is usually 7am for both of us. We check that everything has processed properly overnight (on the in house management system) and that there are no late order amendments to be made. We try to accommodate our customers as much as possible. We feel this sets us apart from other online retailers and adds a personal touch.
The remainder of the day is responding to calls & emails as quickly as possible. In addition we have certain tasks that need completing everyday – sorting out our delivery rounds for the next day (we use ipads – so no printing of paperwork required!), accounts, updating delivery rounds from the previous day, inputting payments etc. We try to plan ahead so usually some part of each day is spent on organising local shows, our customer newsletters, social media and any other local marketing we may be doing.
Around 3pm the drivers arrive back, Tim collects the ipads, and checks the vans and hub are ready for the next day. As our hub is so close to our home, Tim returns to leave the loaded ipads with the delivery round details for the next day.
Early evening is a good time to catch customers at home, so it’s the best time for us to call any new customers to check they enjoyed their first delivery or see if they need any help with future orders.
We try to close the office by 6.30pm – but often we work until much later. We check emails again in the evening and respond to those that require it.
Our days are flexible, and although the hours are long, we have learnt to take time out of the day. We walk the dogs or have lunch together – you can become a slave to your business if you don’t do this!
Running our own business was a shock initially! We had a difficult period when Riverford launched a new management system, which sadly encountered a few teething issues. Our biggest challenge however, has been getting the day to day systems right, managing the accounting and dealing with the HMRC! Oh and ensuring we have enough trained drivers!
Owning a franchise has changed our lives! We now work together – which for many couples is not always ideal! We are at home far more than we used to be. We have had to work hard to get the life/ work balance right!
Overall it has been an interesting challenge. It took a while to feel like we were running our Riverford business and not the other way round. That said, we’d definitely do it all again.
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Riverford franchisees have a level of independence that means we feel supported and not restricted.Liz Sowden, Dorking & Horsham Home delivery