*NEWS*ON THE JETSTREAM ON A TRAIL OF INK

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*NEWS*ON THE JETSTREAM ON A TRAIL OF INK

 user 2006-08-29 at 9:54:00 am Views: 89
  • #16116

    Riding the franchising jetstream on a trail of ink
    When
    founders Narbeh Ghazalian and Mike Shudlik first planted the
    Printwells’ flag four years ago, both admit they weren’t exactly
    seasoned veterans of the franchising game.”We had both just graduated
    from university and it was a school project, to make a long story
    short,” says Mr. Shudlike, the company’s president. Printwells
    specializes in refilling old and empty inkjet cartridges from kiosks
    located in shopping malls.”It looked good on paper, and we decided to
    start it up.”And start it up they did. After opening their first
    location at the St. Laurent shopping centre and running it for a year
    they took their show on the road, opening franchises in Quebec and
    Ontario. The company now boasts 11 locations in Montreal and Ottawa, is
    opening a new location this week in Toronto, and both executives say
    the company hopes to hit 20 by year’s end.Despite their success,
    however, both say the exercise of franchising is no rose garden,
    especially considering their relative inexperience. Franchising, say
    the experts, isn’t just about getting as many stores out there as
    possible – although that’s certainly a big part, especially in
    retail.”The lack of experience me and Mike had from day one,” was the
    most difficult thing in expanding the business, says Mr. Ghazalian,
    along with educating people that ink-cartridge refilling as a service
    even exists. “We both have marketing degrees from the University of
    Ottawa, however the lack of real experience in franchising was the most
    difficult part of our operation.”I feel we almost had to work twice as
    hard to expand successfully.”They had to learn their lessons the hard
    way, says Mr. Ghazalian, even though both have entrepreneurial parents
    who mentored them along the way. Seeing the results, however, you
    wouldn’t know it: Six Printwells’ kiosk-style stores have popped up in
    Ottawa-Hull shopping centres in the past few months.Printwells
    franchises out full turnkey units, each with an initial cost of around
    $110,000 to $130,000. Each kiosk location is expected to take 18 to 24
    months to pay for itself. Everything from initial store setup to
    inventory to training is done in-house by the company – they have an
    in-house training facility at the nine-employee corporate office in
    Ottawa, where franchisees are required to complete a two-week training
    course before opening.From the corporate office the company also
    handles all distribution, research and development, and taxation and
    financial issues.Steve Rosen, CEO of FranNet, a franchise consulting
    organization with offices in Ottawa, says devising a system like this
    before expansion is essential for any company considering launching a
    franchise operation.”If I’m going to write you a check every week for a
    royalty fee, if I’m a franchisee I have to feel I’m getting value for
    my dollars,” says Mr. Rosen. This is what’s referred to as a
    franchise’s value proposition, he says.”I’m not just going to write a
    check because I signed a contract five years ago. So the good
    franchises are the ones who give value to their franchisees.”He names
    big outlets like McDonald’s as the most obvious examples of successful
    franchising operations, and says the franchises who most often fail
    usually exercise little self-discipline and don’t stick to their plan.
    “If you look back historically,” he says, “there have been many
    franchisors who have failed because they didn’t have the discipline to
    turn down the one person who says ‘I love your concept, and I want to
    do one over here, here’s a cheque.”But you need discipline to say
    ‘Strategically, that’s not a good fit right now.’”In other words,
    controlled growth in strategic areas is key. He says Printwells – which
    just became a member of FranNet – is right on the money. It has focused
    on just two urban centres (now three with the new Toronto store) to get
    the most bang for its advertising buck, especially considering the
    relatively obscure product.”It’s a very niche market, and there’s not
    too many people doing it right now,” says Mr. Shudlik, adding that the
    company has a five-year plan to expand to 50 to 60 stores across the
    country, all the way out to Vancouver.”You know what?” he says. “My
    parents had always told me this. Once you’re into something and very
    passionate about it, and you see the light at the end of the tunnel,
    it’s almost like a disease. You just want to keep striving, opening
    locations, and keep moving.”It’s addictive, definitely.”