Mobile phone company Vodac is looking to franchise 40 to 45 Vodafone retail stores nationally. The Vodafone stores are set to tackle opposition from Optus and Telstra franchises, part of the plan being to boost the Vodafone name through investment in television and radio advertising starring Michael Richards (Kramer) from Seinfeld.
Under a national franchise program, the stores will have a gen-eric look and feel selling, aside from mobile phones, palmtops and home office telephone and fax equipment.
Already there are 30 Vodafone stores, 20 owned by Vodac and 10 franchised. Vodac plans to own a further 10 stores, aiming for a total of 80 Vodafone shops.
Following approval, for $35,000 and with enough financial backing, a Vodafone franchise can be acquired. Vodac will even thrown in the shop fitout.
"It's a very financially attractive package for somebody to enter into. And it's got very little risk for the hard worker because you are working in a program," said Gordon Clubb, Vodac's sales and marketing director.
Vodafone stores will be expected, after a period, to maintain the sale of at least 120 connections per month, a level which Clubb said has been exceeded by all Vodafone franchises so far.
"And we won't let you go into a location where you can't make it. Because it's connected to the Vodafone brand name we want it seen as a top level of retailing in this technology," he said.
According to Clubb, the franchise program has received a healthy amount of interest from the IT industry.
"We're relieved we could attract people already with a wealth of knowledge around IT. And an independent business person we believe will probably be about 10 per cent more productive in what they sell because it's their own business," he said.
A number of regions will be defined with "Retail Managers" assigned to overseeing the running of running eight to 10 stores, four of which will be owned by Vodac. "We don't treat a franchisee any differently to our own store," Clubb said. "We decided to take 30 of the shops ourselves and by driving those 30 shops we're driving the whole program so they feel that we've got a very close vested interest in the business."
By Christmas, selected Vodafone stores will be selling organisers and PDAs with Vodac looking into products which run on GSM.
"We want to make sure we have a path, we don't want to be like a computer store of the old days that didn't move into either networking, comms or value added reselling and if you didn't do that you'd die," Clubb said.
"We want to be able to take these guys and move them as technology becomes available. That's the important part, you can do that with a Vodafone store, you can't do that with a independent reseller."
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