Taking The Plunge
Almost four years ago, 34-year- old Martin McDonagh took on a brand new business venture. In June 2013, he opened the doors to his luxury bathroom showroom Ripples, one of the UK's leading bathroom retailers and a business franchise operation. He says: "It had always been my intention to start my own business. I have always wanted to be in charge of my own destiny – after all, you spend such a large proportion of your life working, why not do it for yourself?" Martin had previously worked for builders "We always communicate by letter,. not by email, and when we design,. we will sit down for a few hours with. a customer and go and visit the site. before producing the drawings.". and plumbers merchant MP Moran, where he was running the Watford depot that covered bathrooms, kitchens, plumbing and general building materials.
So it came as no surprise that a business operating in the bathroom industry would be of particular interest. Using the knowledge he already built up, Martin followed his passion and contacted the managing director of Ripples, Paul Crow. "I'd known about Ripples for awhile and l loved the quality of products," Martin says. "In bathrooms, presentation is extremely important, and that's something that Ripples is very good at. "It's a bold move to start a business of any kind, so being a known entity able to negotiate trading terms with suppliers was a huge draw.
"The fact that you have goodwill from suppliers, as in, they are willing to open credit accounts for you straight away, is amazing. You also get help with public relations and advertising. Franchising simplifies all the aspects of business ownership," he says. With successful Ripples showrooms in London and Essex, Martin felt that the Hertfordshire area was a great opportunity for the next Ripples franchise and, after negotiating the lease, he signed on a property in Harpenden. Martin set to work with his father to refit the premises, and after a gruelling few weeks, the showroom was ready for business. Thirteen displays now sit across 1,200 square foot and showcase the highest quality products, as well as illustrate the design opportunities available to a customer should they wish for Ripples to design them a luxury bathroom for their home. While Martin is in charge of running the business, his talented designer, Dena Kirby, works with clients to produce stunning hand-drawn bathroom designs. With three successful years under their belt, Martin and Dena are proving to be a great team.
"Our unique selling point is our handdrawn designs, coupled with a very professional approach to dealing with our customers. "We always communicate by letter, not by email, and when we design, we will sit down for a few hours with a customer and go and visit the site before producing the drawings. Not many retailers invest that number of man-hours in each bathroom. "People want to be more involved with the designs, with storage solutions and mood lighting. It is something we are very good at and part of the complete service we offer." What is clear on meeting Martin McDonagh is that he is dedicated to his showroom. He is also very passionate about his work and speaks highly of the Ripples group as a whole. He comments: "It is difficult to start any business, but it would be a lot more difficult without being part of the Ripples franchise operation. "Having the framework in place makes it a lot less stressful, because we have the safety net of an established supplier relationship, good guidance from the franchisor as well as help and advice on administration and accounting.
The value of all this more than outweighs the fee." Sales in the first three years have been hugely promising, with Martin smashing all of his targets and exceeding all expectations for a new business. This is one young entrepreneur with drive, determination and an eye for what works in business. And what's even more evident, is that with the support and advice from the Ripples group, this franchisee has a very exciting future ahead.
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"The value of all this far outweighs the fee."
Martin McDonagh, Ripples Harpenden