The Whitwood Family
Whether or not industry surveys always reveal the fact, franchising appeals strongly to families. The traditional family business with its ‘ & Sons’ suffix once formed the backbone of British retail and service industries, before ‘plc’s’ came to dominate, and it still plays a key role in the franchise industry.
Members of one family often play various roles in a franchise business, running the showroom, operating a workshop, keeping the books, making the sales calls. Typical perhaps is the Whitwood family from East Anglia, which together has built a thriving Granite Transformations franchise in Norwich.
“When we first saw the Granite Transformations concept at a trade show, being from Norfolk we were quite sceptical. Does it really do what it says it does?,” recalls Oliver Whitwood. “We didn’t take any leaflets and might have missed the opportunity, but later we saw it at another show and got hold of the franchise information. By 2004, we’d opened our showroom in Norwich.”
Although all three Whitwood men are skilled joiners, they came to their franchise business from different directions. Dad, Malcolm, had his own woodworking firm, where the boys often helped out on site. Oliver was destined for the forces until a sporting injury dashed his hopes, later becoming a patisserie chef. Younger brother Tom previously worked with an outdoor pursuits company in Wales and France.
“Dad and I decided to invest in a Granite Transformations franchise, but we thought it would be great if we could all work together, so we enlisted Tom as Workshop Manager,” says Oliver. “We attended the initial training programme and found the technical side quite straightforward, as you might expect, but we appreciated the franchisor’s input on business operations and sales & marketing.”
Despite the natural reticence of Norfolk people, it seems customers love the Granite Transformations product, especially as they like things to last, and appreciate the polite, helpful and extremely proficient customer service provided by the Whitwoods. Nor is this franchise family content with just residential installations; they were also responsible for fulfilling one of Granite Transformations’ largest commercial contracts, at the stylish OPEN Youth venue in Norwich.