When did you start your franchise?
in-toto Nottingham opened its doors in 2010.
What did you do before you joined in-toto?
I had already had a long career in the kitchen industry. I worked as a kitchen fitter from 1988 until 2003 and then a kitchen sales designer from 2003 until 2010.
How has the business changed over time?
The business has changed enormously since the late 1980s! Long gone are the days when studios just filled all the kitchen walls with cupboards and added a wine rack for glamour. Modern kitchens are the hub of the house with more sociable uses, and the design needs to reflect this. Kitchens are a lot more fun these days - the design, colours and textures being key.
Why did you choose in-toto?
I chose the in-toto franchise for an established brand name above the showroom door and experienced support, particularly in the early days.
How did you choose your studio location?
Much work was done with demographics. It is important to locate your studio where it will best match the local customer base. It’s also vital to have good visibility for passing trade, as well as parking facilities.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge has been establishing the business during the recession, but we came through the other side, and are now successfully into our sixth year.
What has been your best moment so far?
Many things have been rewarding. Employing my daughter is an example of this. She won a national design competition in 2014, the prize being a free exhibition stand at Grand Designs Live at the NEC. The publicity was fantastic and everyone was so positive about my business.
What advice would you give to new starters?
Work hard, listen to your customers’ needs and keep service levels high. Everybody makes the odd mistake, but customers will be more forgiving if you’ve done everything to their satisfaction or beyond their expectations.
What did you do to research becoming a franchise?
I spoke to existing franchisees to find out what they thought about being a part of the in-toto franchise – there were some really positive reviews.
Have you won any awards or competitions?
in-toto Nottingham won the Miele Design Competition 2014 – a very proud and rewarding moment!