Blair and Angela Southwood, One Stop Franchisees, Louth and Paul Wilson, Business Development Manager
Blair and Angela, can you tell us why you chose One Stop?
Blair: We looked at either being a symbol group or operating as an independent, but when we contacted One Stop everything seemed to suit us with what they had to offer. We’ve been with One Stop since 2015.
What are the benefits of being part of One Stop?
Blair: Since joining One Stop our like-for-like sales have been growing 11% year-on-year, which means our basket spends are actually way above what we expected. Margins were around 9-10% before joining One Stop and now they’re hitting at least 20% every week.
Angela: Thanks to the £50,000 One Stop store re-fit we tripled our sales within the first week, which was phenomenal!
What promotions are popular in your store?
Blair: One Stop’s Own Label range has gone down fantastically well, as the products are spot on. They’re a massive hit with our customers and we’ve had lots of feedback saying that the taste, the value and the quality is superb. At Christmas the 3 for £5 promotion on boxes of chocolates absolutely flew out and we had no problem selling them at all. We’ve recently had special promotions on a retro sweet tub and I sold all my stock in two days! Plus, the Meal Deal is another really popular hit with customers – you just can’t fault it!
Promotions are important for the store because they bring people in and keep customers coming back, as they know the promotions are excellent and good value for money. One Stop promotions, with the costs that we buy and sell at, give us a profit margin of around 20% and are therefore really worthwhile for us.
Can you tell us about the promotional point of sale (POS)?
Blair: The promotional POS that we get from One Stop is very effective. We have advertising for both inside and outside of the store, as well as promotional leaflets that are distributed. It really gets the message out there about what we’ve got in-store, helping to drive more footfall.
What support do you get from One Stop?
Blair: The support we’ve had from Franchise Support and our Business Development Manager (BDM), is something we’ve never had before. You’ve always got somebody there if you need them, seven days a week. There are people at the end of the phone if there are any problems and it’s become so simple to run the business.
Angela: The back-office system has given us more free time to concentrate on what’s happening on the shop floor and our customers, rather than trying to deal with orders and purchases. This has massively improved the way the business works and saves a great deal of time, especially the gap-check, as it gives you that opportunity to check your shop is fully stocked at all times. I think the technology brought to our shop by One Stop has massively improved the way the business works - it’s fantastic.
Paul, how do you support Blair and Angela?
During our monthly meetings we focus on store profitability, including sales, but also look at wages, the known-loss, write-offs and all the elements that are built into the profit and loss of the business. Working with Blair and Angela I look at how we can influence that and, ultimately, help them to improve the profit of the store.
During every visit we also look at any new initiatives that we can introduce. Each visit is centred on the individual store, the customer and the profitability, plus we really focus on the local community and the positive impact One Stop stores have within that.
How has One Stop saved you time?
Blair: The One Stop stock ordering system is so easy to use. Previously, when we had to go out and buy the stock ourselves from wholesalers, it was a three-hour trip there and back, so having direct deliveries makes our job so much easier and saves us hours.
The EPoS system makes our life so much simpler, because all the information that we need is there and the shop can run itself, which gives us time back for our own lives. Previously the shop ran us, whereas now we run the shop - the One Stop systems give us quality of life which is valuable to us.
How has being a franchise impacted your work/life balance?
Blair: Since joining One Stop, we’ve been able to have our first two-week holiday. My working hours and family life have totally changed because of the dynamics of the One Stop system - it gives you quality time at home with your family.
We’re a family business but One Stop’s our family as well, because we’re all part of one group and that’s what you need. This is what’s made such a difference to the way our store works.