3@1 Business Centre – Woman in franchising

Franchising has a lot to offer enterprising women, just ask 3@1 Business Centre franchisor Belinda Dunn…

Belinda’s first taste of franchising was enough to get her hooked. “I was invited to the International franchise Fair in Egypt and really enjoyed the diversity of ideas and concepts and meeting entrepreneurs.”

Her background in sales and interest in franchising meant that when the opportunity arose Belinda was quick to join husband Chris Dunn’s franchise operation. She started out handling franchisee enquiries and has continued to broaden her scope and involvement in the business over the last fifteen years.

3@1 Business Centre Franchisees focus on the provision of state-of-the-art communications for business owners and individuals. From copy/print, wide format, courier services, photographic to sublimation 3@1 Business Centres offer a broad range of services.

2017 was a breakthrough year for the franchise with 16 new outlets opening, taking the total to 80 operating stores in three countries. The target set for 2018-9 is another 20 nationwide. “There is a great need for our services across the country and centres constantly approach us to place franchisees in their malls.”

The concept has proven especially popular among female entrepreneurs and Belinda believes women inherently possess many of the skills needed to be successful 3@1 Business Centre franchisee’s, including the ability to follow a system, listening and building lasting relationships with clients, focusing on the tiny details, prioritising and multi-tasking.

“We find that women are often a lot more networking- and relationship- orientated, which suits our franchise requirements well,” explains Belinda.

The training and support that are part of 3@1’s business format systems are key drivers for many women looking to start their own business. “We offer a personalised service and deal on a one-on-one basis with our franchisees. We’re accessible and we take an interest in the development of our franchisees at a personal level. We’re also a family-run business and I think many women react positively to this.”

Training is comprehensive. New franchisees initially spend time observing at an existing outlet. They see how customers are handled and how a transaction is closed. Next, they train on their own equipment and in their new store. This is one-on-one onsite training.

Thereafter franchisees can approach Belinda and the 3@1 team for ongoing support. Head office also follows up with regular store visits nationwide.

The concept is designed to allow franchisees to develop the business in accordance with their entrepreneurial flair. Beyond the normal services, including copy/print, courier, binding/laminating, photographic etc., franchisees can choose to add extra services. “So, a franchisee that is prone to graphic design can develop their skills in this particular area. Or if they lean toward figure work i.e. bookkeeping-orientated, they can add this element to their new shop. That’s why the concept suits almost anyone who is computer-literate, works well with people and wants to start their own business,” says Belinda.

Beyond the expertise of the individual franchisees, 3@1 also takes the needs of the community in which the outlet is located into account when compiling the range of services. “If the community entertains a lot of foreign visitors and requires high levels of voice-over-internet services then our franchisee will concentrate on that. They may require postal or communication services and this often depends on the area you trade in – is it a consumer area or an industrial area etc.?”

Innovation and versatility have been crucial to the expansion of the 3@1 concept. Kodak photo-developing machines are among the newest addition to stores. The company has also developed its sublimination services, which offer huge profit margins for franchisees.

Honing the franchisee selection process has been one of the biggest challenges that Belinda has faced over the last few years. Today the selection process is rigorous, and franchisees are vetted very carefully.

Contact Belinda Dunn +27 82 8564654
Email: info@3at1.com
Or visit www.3at1.co.za

Belinda’s tips

Top tip for franchisees: “Thoroughly research the franchise you are interested in. We equip prospective franchisees with all the information they need to decide whether 3@1 Business Centre is right for them.”

Top tip for franchisors: “Spend time with your franchisees, don’t be in a rush. It’s very important to work with them and find a site that suits the individual.”

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