When did you start your franchise?
We joined the franchise and opened in-toto Northampton in October 2013.
What did you do before you joined in-toto?
I (Amish) had spent over 15 years in the banking industry, responsible for process improvement projects, and infrastructure changes. Whilst my wife, Parita, was a social worker. Although we didn’t have experience in the kitchen industry, we felt the skills we acquired in our roles complemented the in-toto philosophy – it’s all about people, choice and personal attention to detail.
How has the business changed over time?
The business has changed significantly. Gone are the days of the kitchen just being for purpose, they are now well and truly the heart of the home. The majority of our clients are expanding their homes through extensions to create open plan living, with the kitchen being the hub of the home. Even when it comes to parties, the kitchen is always the room to be in.
With these changing trends, in-toto has kept its finger on the pulse by bringing in new colours, textured door finishes and designer features which helps us to be the preferred kitchen retailer amongst our competitors.
Why did you choose in-toto?
The simple answer is the product is fantastic and really does sell itself. We liked the idea of owning our own business, whilst being supported by a national brand. The great thing is that the in-toto brand has a fantastic reputation.
The support offered by the franchise is also key. Having all the national advertising and marketing being driven by Head Office is a big advantage as it helps with brand awareness, and more often than not, customers have heard of in-toto. It is also great having a network of other in-toto franchisees for support and to bounce ideas off – it’s a priceless benefit to have.
How did you choose your studio location?
in-toto Northampton was available for sale and we were looking for a business opportunity. Purchasing an existing showroom was reassuring because it had already built up a good track record locally and we got instant recommendations, so business got off to a flying start.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge is accepting the vast competition in the retail business. However, as the in-toto methodology is all about delivering an excellent customer experience, we find that the majority of customers come back to us once they have done their rounds, largely due to the personal local service we offer.
What has been your best moment so far?
There is not just one moment, there are several. We get tremendous satisfaction when new customers come in from a recommendation – it reinforces our own personal statement: ‘people buy from people, people buy us’, to give them a memorable and positive experience.
What did you do to research becoming a franchisee?
We looked at the historical traffic and sales figures. We also looked at the demographics of the area to identify the key areas that would fit the in-toto customer.
What advice would you give to new starters?
New starters should take advantage of the huge network. Speak to the more experienced franchisees for advice and ideas not only on kitchen design, but also marketing, business and customer service.
It’s also important to have a look at other showrooms and soak in design and props that could work in your own studio.