When did you join in-toto?
We opened in-toto Bristol in 2006.
How has the business changed over time?
The operation has developed a lot since I started, and is perhaps a little less ‘paternal’ in its approach. There is greater emphasis on the marketing of the in-toto brand and certainly more effort directed towards web-based activity and analysis.
Why did you choose to join the in-toto Franchise?
At the beginning I [Clinton] worked with my brother-in-law and the in-toto franchise seemed an interesting proposition for myself and my wife Fiona, despite our non-kitchen background. I certainly felt then, and still do, that the business model is a fundamentally strong one if you approach it correctly and maximise the strengths that working as part of a franchise gives you – the power of a national brand with a small, local company feel.
How did you choose your studio location?
We knew Bristol was a very good location but the challenge was finding the right spot within it. Having lived here after university I know the local area in which we are currently based really well. We focussed our search on the Whiteladies Road and were lucky enough to find the premises we currently occupy. It needed a great deal of work to get it to the correct standard but the investment has certainly paid off.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
As our business started to grow we decided to invest heavily so we could maintain the expansion without compromising the service we offered. Employing additional staff, upgrading IT and design systems and outsourcing as many services as possible all came at a cost but has enabled us to keep growing, whilst maintaining a normal, balanced family life.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
Reaching the £1 million mark in 2014, closely followed by matching it the year later, 3 months early!
What advice would you give to new starters?
If you have a strong emphasis on exceeding customer expectations you won’t go far wrong.
What did you do to research becoming a franchisee?
We visited a number of existing franchisees to get some honest feedback on their experiences. The in-toto brand has been around a long time and is a proven model, so assuming you have chosen the right location and you have the right attitude it really is a very straightforward business to run.
Have you won any awards/ competitions?
Aside from being the top in-toto retailer in terms of sales two out of the last three years (hopefully soon to be three out of four!), we were also recognised as a finalist in the Customer Service of the Year category in the KBB Review 2014 Awards.