Franchising · 24 March 2016

Franchise profile: Kitchen makeover firm Dream Doors

Dream Doors
Dream Doors recently opened in Belfast
Troy Tappenden set up Dream Doors with 500 and the lofty idea of creating a high-end kitchen makeover business that didnt break the bank for customers. it’s fair to say his dream has been achieved in more ways than one.

As the UK’s largest kitchen makeover firm, Dream Doors offers replacement doors, worktops and drawer fronts to transform a kitchen for a fraction of the cost of a full re-fit. With more than 70 franchisees in showrooms across the UK, the company enjoyed its best-ever year in 2015 and looks set for more record-breaking in 2016.

Q&A subject: Dream Doors managing director, Troy Tappenden

Factfile

  • Franchised since: 1999
  • of franchisees: 70+
  • Network turnover: 33m in 2015, including HQ
  • Typical start-up cost: Total cost is 75, 000, with 25, 000 invested by the franchisee

(1)what’s the start-up story behind Dream Doors, where did the business begin?

Id always wanted to work for myself and had set myself a deadline of starting my own company by the time I turned 30 I figured if I hadnt done it by then, I never would. I was working for Hampshire County Council, but not enjoying it, and so I began looking at franchise opportunities.

I finally found something that appealed, working as a franchisee for Made to Measure Doors. That didnt work out, but I could see the consumer appetite for kitchen makeovers and replacement door services, which gave me the inspiration for Dream Doors and I launched the company in 1999.

?(2)what led you to franchise it?

It was when I first opened a showroom, in my home town of Gosport. It instantly gave the business much more credibility and my customers loved that they could come in and see and touch the product. I realised that the model could probably work anywhere, but wanted to try a couple of pilot franchises to test the theory.

Doing so taught me that franchisees need a lot of support and you can’t just expect them to go out and deliver fantastic sales from day one. The support element is a major part of our proposition to this day and we aim to give franchisees every last thing they need to succeed. I officially launched Dream Doors as a franchise business in 2002, at Birmingham’s NEC.

(3) High street retailers have faced difficult times in recent years. Has that been your experience?

In 2008 and 2009 I was certainly worried that the global economic outlook would have an impact on Dream Doors. But in actual fact, we grew during that period. People were reluctant to spend 10, 000 or more on a full re-fit, but were happy to spend significantly less on a kitchen makeover.

Having a physical showroom is an important part of how our franchise works. Everyone starts off running a Dream Doors franchise from a home office and we then look to help secure premises within six months. Without fail, there is always a significant increase in sales when the showroom opens. Ours is a physical product and people just like to see it, so Dream Doors showrooms will always be a part of what we do.

(4) Who are your typical customers and how does that impact on your franchisees and the skills they need?

While the benefits of a kitchen makeover can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds, it’s true to say that much of our business is with the over 50s. People of that age arent generally worried about job cuts or redundancies, and don’t usually want to embark on a major DIY project, with the cost and disruptions that come with that. So our model works really well for that demographic they are happy to spend a few thousand pounds on improving their kitchen and we are more than happy to help them do so!

We conducted a customer survey last year and it showed that 87 per cent of our customers said that trust was the most important factor when buying from Dream Doors. Customers want to feel reassured, especially since many are elderly and invite our franchisees into their homes, so all our franchisees are given the people skills training to be able to do that.

(5) Have you won any awards for your franchisee recruitment processes?

I am delighted to say that Dream Doors is a serial award winner! In 2015 we won a prestigious 2015 BFA HSBC Franchisor of the Year Award, in the franchisee recruiter of the year category.

The judges said that we have a commanding grasp? of how to attract and assess the right individuals for the network, and that we have a highly impressive approach? to taking on new franchisees. We are open, honest and transparent at all stages of the process and it was great to see that recognised. We can’t be successful unless our franchisees are, and that’s why were so selective about who we let into the network.

T roy Tappenden,  Dream Doors
Troy Tappenden (left) with franchising director Bill Owen
?(6)what sort of training do you offer? Any recent developments in this area?

In Q4 2015 we launched a new recruitment and training programme for our franchisees, ensuring we recruit the right people and that they get the right support and training once they have been selected.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Paul Stafford is the British Franchise Association's PR manager, which allows him ample opportunity to indulge in two of his passions: writing and business. A background in various SMEs led Stafford to the franchise sector in 2012 and a role which sees him work closely with businesses of all sizes and sectors, from international giants to kitchen table startups.

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