Posted on 21 May 2015
Now in its 5th year of business, in-toto Southport is an award-winning kitchen design studio, built with hard work and determination – despite adversity - by Franchisees Jane & Simon Miller.
The Millers are the epitome of the saying, “you get out of it what you put in”. The couple started their Franchise business in October 2010 with their first in-toto studio in Southport and they faced an extraordinary amount of bad luck. Not only did the recession hit as they opened their doors, but they were also snowed-in during the first Winter and the shop front needed replacing not once, but twice, due to drink-drivers crashing into their window!
Simon explains, “It was strength of character that got us through it – we pushed hard with advertising and networking and now it is paying off. We opened our second studio in 2013 – a stunning two-storey studio in Clitheroe, known as in-toto Ribble Valley - and we’re getting regular recommendations”.
They were soon achieving success with their new studio and in November 2013 they reported the second highest sales of the month of all 47 in-toto studios nationwide. Two years on, in-toto Ribble Valley still remains in the Top Ten.
As Neff MasterPartners, they are extremely proud that they were awarded Regional MasterPartner of the Year in October 2013. Not ones to rest on their laurels, in February 2015 Paul Hollywood presented them with a trophy for ‘Best Window Display’ at the NEFF MasterPartner Awards and Jane now features in this great video, explaining how they have taken their studio to the next level.
Jane understands the importance of connecting with their customers and local community, which is why they support five annual food festivals, including the Southport Flower Show and the Clitheroe Food Festival, with a demonstration kitchen. They also host regular events in their showrooms, including a monthly Supersteam Saturday. Interactive cookery demonstrations and tasting sessions are held on the first Saturday of each month at in-toto Southport, to teach people how to make the most of steam ovens and give them the opportunity to taste the results.
It’s not just their success with appliances that has got them noticed. Jane and Simon have recruited wisely and now have a loyal and experienced team to support them. in-toto Southport Showroom Manager, Chris Smith, has been recognised for his amazing kitchen designs by the KBSA as he was a finalist for Designer of the Year 2014 with this striking customer kitchen:
Even MasterChef's very own Gregg Wallace was wowed by the Millers’ business and used the Southport studio for a photoshoot to advertise his upcoming national tour. Jane Miller, Chris Smith and Helen Cross of in-toto Southport all thoroughly enjoyed meeting Gregg, who said of the studio, "You've got a nice bit of kit 'ere!"
Choosing in-toto as a Franchise was an easy decision for the pair as Simon’s background in construction and development meant he was familiar with the kitchens and he loves the in-toto products. Simon now uses his experience in the project management of his in-toto businesses, perfectly complemented by his wife Jane, who has a strong background in marketing and handles the designs, ordering and marketing for the studios.
Jane had no kitchen knowledge at all but product training and the friendly family feel of the Franchise was key to her success. Jane explains, “With a franchise, you benefit from knowing you’re not on your own – the stories and tips that we share amongst the other in-toto studios nationwide is invaluable”.
Jane’s advice to future Franchisees is to “ask questions in all areas of your business – speak to your fitters and keep up-to-date with design trends by reading the relevant magazines”.
The couple have certainly followed their own advice and their achievements are a testament to all the hard work they put into their businesses. By never losing focus on the customer experience they deliver, they are regularly rewarded with a strong flow of referrals that is sure to bring them even more success going forward.
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