A franchise that keeps growing

Back in June 2006 business partners Tom Shanahan and David Kelly brought Kendlebell, a successful UK-based franchise, to the Republic of Ireland through a Master Franchise agreement. Since then Tom and David have established a network of five franchise owners and are currently looking for dedicated and determined entrepreneurs to continue their expansion nationwide.

Both Tom and David had been working for multi-national companies when they began looking for a business opportunity. "We wanted to own a business where we would be able to use our experience and skills," Tom explains. "We first came across Kendlebell at the National Franchise Exhibition that is held in the UK. We were impressed with the company and thought the concept had great potential in Ireland so we decided to buy the Master Franchise rights."

Kendlebell provides a virtual office service to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). The range of services the company offers include a telephone answering service, E Fax Services, online diary management, boardroom hire, call transfer/patching, business mailing addresses, and holiday and sickness cover.

According to Tom Kendlebell stands out from its competitors due to the fact that it strives to provide a personalised service for its clients. "We take the time to get to know our clients so that we can act as an extension of their company rather than just as a call centre," he says. "Our ultimate aim is to provide an excellent, personalised and cost effective service."

As the owners of the Kendlebell Ireland Master Franchise, Tom and David oversee the network of franchise owners across Ireland, which involves selling available territories to suitable franchise owners, as well as providing training and support to the network.

At present, there are a number of franchise locations throughout Ireland both within and outside of Dublin. Tom and David estimate that there is potential for more franchises across the country and are actively looking to recruit some franchisees during 2010.

Tom explains: "We are looking for franchise owners who have a strong sales ability and drive; are commercially astute with a desire to run their own business; are willing to work to the Kendlebell formula; have a passion for customer service; are experienced in people management; and who have a professional approach.

"In return we provide comprehensive two weeks' training, which covers all aspects of owning a Kendlebell franchise including how to use our systems, how to manage people, and how to do the paperwork. As well as this, David and I will provide ongoing support via the telephone and by visiting franchise owners at their office."

Tom is confident that the potential for Kendlebell is huge, he states: "There are currently about 250,000 SMEs operating in Ireland and I would estimate that the market potential for Kendlebell is 10 per cent of that." This coupled with the fact that Tom reveals that Kendlebell has been performing well despite the economic downturn as, "we help companies cut cost by replacing staff by using our services," means that this could be the perfect time to join the growing franchise.

Interview by Derin Ibrahim