Cajetan Kii, Fulham
“I’m over 100% ahead of my projections – I’ve floored the competition!”
Cajetan, 32, became the first franchisee for The Wooden Floor Store when he opened his business in Fulham in 2018. Looking for the security of a proven model to go into business for himself, he’s got that and much more after doubling his business plan in his first four months.
He says it’s all thanks to some unique selling points and an “infectious” passion from The Wooden Floor Store founders, Richard Snape and Ross Nicholl. It’s been quite a journey from west Africa to south-west London, and booming business success...
What’s your background?
It’s a long story! I trained as a petroleum engineer and worked in the industry for a couple of years in Nigeria. I came to the UK to do a masters in oil and gas engineering, but after graduating it was hard to break into the industry here. So I went on to work for a foundation in London, and then into retail. After a while, I just thought, ‘I should start something on my own’.
I was young and wanted to get into business, but I wanted something that was secure and had been done before. I didn’t want to lose the little life savings I had after university! So I was looking for something proven and tested. My risk appetite wasn’t that high, that’s why I chose franchising.
Why The Wooden Floor Store?
I was originally thinking about another franchise, but there was a lot of holes in what they were telling me. I got back in touch with The Wooden Floor Store a few weeks after I’d first enquired, to get more information. We spoke at length over the phone, I went to Glasgow to meet Richard and Ross, and it was there that I made the decision that this was for me.
It was absolutely because of them. They just have so much energy and passion. I wanted to buy into someone else’s business because they’d done it before, and with Richard and Ross, not only had they done it before but wood flooring was their life and their passion. Before I got to know anything about the products or the industry, I’d already decided I wanted to go with these guys.
The information they gave me, I knew they weren’t hiding anything. What they were saying was what was happening, everything went seamlessly. It was so different to the other franchise.
Their passion meant everything, it’s exactly what I was looking for. If someone doesn’t have passion for their own business, then why should I? Infectious is the word I’d use to describe it.
I did the same that everyone should do before buying into a franchise: cold hard research. I was shown everything and you need to be able to ask everything that you want to ask. They were really forthcoming, they answered my questions clearly and openly. The process went really smoothly.
How did you feel when you’d made the decision? It’s a big deal!
Yes, it’s a big step! After I’d decided to take the plunge, there was no turning back for me. Especially because I was the first franchisee. It wasn’t like other franchises I was looking at where they could show you the books and what’s been achieved by others. People coming in to those have got something to look at, but I didn’t have any of that.
I trusted my gut, Richard and Ross made it a lot easier because they knew what they were doing and what they were talking about, they’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. They gave me no reason to doubt anything, that made it simpler for me.
What’s been happening since you opened your store?
I opened the store on 4th May. We’ve been open for four months now and in each of those months we’ve comfortably exceeded the projections in my business plan by more than 100%. The value is amazing. I came in expecting a certain level, so to do 100% more than that is fantastic.
What’s also really good is that it’s not a high-traffic business, so you do have time to do other things like the admin, marketing planning, sales processes and so on.
How have you been so successful?
In terms of the product, anybody worth their onions would get along with wood flooring. It’s not highly technical, you just need to get to know the basics. It’s all about people – if you don’t like talking to people, then don’t go into retail! You’re talking to people on a daily basis and basically convincing them to buy from YOU. Why should they buy from you?
I tell the people that work for me that we don’t sell wood flooring, we sell a service. People buy from people they like. It doesn’t matter how good the products or price, if someone has a bad experience with you then they’re not going to give you their money. Anybody with the right people skills can do this, and do really well.
Other than that, I’d say there are three things, outside the guys and their support.
The first is location – one of the things Ross told me was location, location, location: get that right and the rest will follow. We got it right. My store has got high ceilings so we’ve really used that – we’ve got huge 3m by 1m boards stretching from floor to ceiling. In a typical flooring business you get tiny samples, it’s difficult for customers to see how the products are going to look. We decided to take the best sellers and display them in the most gigantic, beautiful way!
Secondly is the pricing and value. I’ve done a lot of research in the London market, and the prices are crazy just because it’s London. We started giving customers the same prices that people are paying in Falkirk!
As Richard and Ross like to say, we floored our competitors! They just can’t match our pricing. And we can offer that because Richard and Ross import and design these products themselves. The own-brand products that we have, we manufacture, design and import them so we control the entire supply chain and can control our pricing structure. Other stores can’t do that.
The third thing was the Grand Designs exhibition. When I was getting ready to open, I had a decision to make between investing around £5,000 into exhibiting, or keeping the money for cash flow. It was a difficult decision, we were just opening, but my gut just told me let’s do it!
It was a massive success. We took orders, we took deposits, got a lot of leads that we followed up for the next two months after the show, and it gave us such a boost. We rode that wave for a very long time, in terms of both the sales we took and the leads generated for afterwards. It was a good decision!
Do you feel you’ve had good back-up from the franchisors?
Oh yes, the support from Richard and Ross is always there. They have a great team behind them too. That word I used earlier, infectious, well they’ve infected their staff as well, everyone working for them is at that same level and so passionate.
Whenever I ask about something, they’re always there to help. I can call Richard or Ross any time of day just to find out something, no matter how trivial it is. The support has been amazing.
Your plans for the future?
The plan is to grow from strength to strength. I can’t tell the future, but ideally I’d like to open another couple of stores around London. For now it’s just to keep moving in the direction we have been in for the past four months, and see what the future holds.