Interview with a Snap Franchise Owner
Interview with Conor Smith – Owner of Snap Sandyford
Share in the lessons he has learnt, the challenges he has faced and the unique benefits of being a part of the Snap Franchising family
Tell us more about yourself.
I am a family man at heart really, married with 3 children.
I have lived in Dublin all my life. I went to school in St. Michael’s College and graduated from Trinity College with an honours degree in Marketing Management in 1986. No surprises for guessing rugby is one of my sporting passions, and I love golf too!
Self-employment runs in the family. It all began with both my grandfathers who were businessmen, both running small businesses in the heart of the city.
On my father’s side, grandad was a leather smith. In fact here’s some trivia for you, he was the man who first put a cover of leather on a hurling sliothar. My mother ran a small pharmacy in College Green. This is where, as a teenager, I learnt the basics of running a small business.
So, let’s cut to the chase. What got you into franchising?
I was introduced to the Snap group by a peer and lifelong pal John Dawson. We were neighbours and great friends from a very young age, growing up on the same estate together. So his opinion definitely mattered to me.
I also got to know one of the Snap Directors, Michael Kearney from my rugby playing days in Landsdowne rugby club. Through him, I met another director, Ed Murphy.
These three people were instrumental in influencing my decision to join Snap. I had confidence in them and trusted them implicitly from the start. I felt (and still do) that their business model and my training could result in a prosperous business.
I felt (and still do) that their business model and my training could result in a prosperous business.
As my mother used to say “A fair exchange is no robbery”.
It was reassuring to know that these innovative and respected business leaders were at the helm of the Snap franchising business.
What do you find most attractive and beneficial about franchising
(as opposed to being just another stand-alone business) ?
My most powerful business tool is the Snap logo over my door.
The strength of the brand opens up a lot of opportunities and eases the way when you’re out there developing the business and driving sales.
In terms of the Snap, I stepped into a brand that was already reputable and reliable in the eyes of prospective clients. The Snap group has dealings with 70% of Ireland’s Top 1000 companies. That is truly a great advantage to begin with. Powerful leverage when you’re building new business relationships and seeking multinationals as clients for example.
Beyond branding, a franchise model means that key management functions are carried out on your behalf at group level.
In Snap we get support with purchasing, operations, IT, events, HR and staff training, marketing and even sales.
This in turn, allows me as an owner-manager of a small business to focus on our sales function.
And sales is the lifeblood of any business!
What does franchising mean to you?
It’s a relationship like any other. On one hand you get a lot of leadership, marketing clout, brand power and professional support that frees you to focus on the day to day business. On the other hand, to do that well, you have to follow the system, take the advice, and focus on the areas where you can make a difference.
On the other hand, to do that well, you have to follow the system, take the advice, and focus on the areas where you can make a difference.
The onus is still on you to get the business in. To be honest, there is one thing you do have control on and its driving sales and developing the business locally. There is hard graft in that.
But you have to develop the right team and recruit well too – the people make the business. Your judgement is key here.
We also have room to contribute to the bigger picture and help develop the brand as individuals. So its not some distant dictator.
You are a part of the business in a real way.
What should prospective franchisees be looking for in a franchise?
There are many other franchise options out there, most of whom will give lip service to franchise support – this is not the case with Snap.
Here is the proof.
We have a strong connection to the group on a human level at Snap. Communication is key in a good franchise.
For example, we have owner meetings every 6 weeks where support is given. Initiatives are spelt out, and we get briefed on the latest developments in the business.
We exchange ideas, give feedback and get regular staff training. Staff inductions are provided as a service from our group office.
We also have Buddy Groups. As peers, we conduct regular chats on business ideas and exchange advice.
Take marketing alone, we have various marketing promotions and programmes running simultaneously on local and group level.
We are also represented at national level. Event sponsorship positions our brand alongside other key bluechip brands. We benefit from advertising online, social media support and offline in B2B networks.
Because of the scale of the group with 17 centres, we have various procurement deals that leverage collective bargaining.
There is also an ISO quality assurance programme managed on our behalf.
What challenges have you faced individually and as a group?
We have survived the last recession as a group but it has been tough – 23 of our competitors have gone out of business as a result of this recession. Some larger and some smaller than us. I believe we did not follow them due to the strength of our brand.
We survived a very difficult banking environment during that time. Cash-flow wise, it was a tightrope balancing act.
Individually, it also took a lot of prudent management at centre level to make this happen.
How did you do it?
Strategically we’ve developed value points that helped us survive the recession – it gave us the competitive edge. It allowed us to show some great value purchase items in our product portfolio and therefore allowing our clients to see for themselves, the benefits of dealing with Snap.
It allowed us to show some great value purchase items in our product portfolio and therefore allowing our clients to see for themselves, the benefits of dealing with Snap.
Developing our product portfolio is a key part in the growth of business. We jump in when the opportunity exists.
That has helped us move forward.
Well now that you’ve come this far in the journey: What did YOU get out of it personally?
Building the business from a smaller base and redefining it locally – watching the client base develop and getting multinationals to work with us. All this is very gratifying.
Aspiring to be amongst the top centres in the group and making it happen. That is very satisfying too.
It was very fulfilling watching the business grow in Sandyford and moving to new, bigger, better premises.
It was nice to get industry recognition. in the Irish Print Awards in 2012 we won the Irish Print Managers of the Year. We’ve also won the Irish Franchisee of the Year award twice in 2013 and 2015 from the Irish Franchise Association Awards.
Thank you for all your insights, Conor. Sound advice. Final Words to live by?
Do what it says on the tin. Live up to and exceed your promises where you can.
Have a ‘Can Do’ attitude and make sure your team has it too.
Bring more to the solution. Don’t just be an observer.
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Hope you got some insights from one of our foremost franchisees and best performing Snap centres. It’s simple and we have a 10 step plan you can download
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