Matt Wilson – Riverford Home delivery Liverpool & Warrington
Matt Wilson took on the Liverpool & Warrington home delivery franchise in May 2015. Here he talks why he took on a franchised business and how his first couple of years have gone.
After living in the Netherlands for 2 years with my wife Ciska and 2 kids Ben and Rudi, I was ready to take on another challenge back in the UK. My previous job was in sales but having also run my own business as an art dealer in my 20’s and 30’s I knew I wanted to be my own boss again. I also knew how difficult it can be to get started so I decided to look at franchises that could offer me the support I wanted combined with a great brand.
I came across Riverford on the BFA website and it seemed like a good fit as we had been getting veg boxes in Holland and I loved it. In fact we had been buying organic food for many years, a perfect day out for us would be a trip to a wonderful organic market in Amsterdam stocking up on goodies then cooking something new in the evening. I also had a background in agriculture from my student days and was attracted by the fact that Riverford were farmers themselves. I discovered there was a deeper concern at Riverford for sustainable farming, ethics and fairness that appealed to me. Timing was on my side as my local region was about to come on to the market. 6 months later I was approved as Riverford’s newest franchisee.
Support from Riverford has been fantastic from day One. I have a dedicated business development manager, Greg, from Riverford’s Yorkshire based Home Farm, and he does a great job answering all my questions, he even helps out at any local shows & events I’m attending. We have quarterly meetings to catch up and keep a track on things. Greg always arrives with lots of graphs, folders and statistics but everything is very informal and involves lots of coffee and cake.
We deliver Tuesday to Friday and a typical week for me involves 3 early morning starts 2-4am to get to the hub, two full days delivering and 2-3 days in or home office taking care of the admin. There’s a fair bit to get through but it suits me working from home as it means I can take a break and take the dog for a walk on the beach. On top of this there is weekend work promoting at any local fetes and festivals, spreading the word about home delivery.
There were many challenges in my first year, not least turning around a region that was in decline where restructuring and reducing the delivery rounds was crucial.
Although initially not everything went to plan, we are now moving in the right direction and are now showing significant growth. There’s still plenty of work to do but we now have a stronger platform to work from and the future is looking positive.
I think my business stands out from the competition because of the caring personal service we offer, always giving a prompt reply to customer queries or any concerns. We take pride in the small details, for example how the veg is presented in the box and is it protected from the sun or rain if our customer is not in to take delivery?
If you’re thinking of buying a franchise I would say don’t be put off by the long application process that many franchisors will have, it really will help you. Also have a good look at the financial side too and discuss this aspect with other franchisees and an accountant. Really do your due diligence and understand exactly what you are buying into.
Running a Riverford franchise does require a lot of my time but for me it’s great and flexible enough to allow me to still spend many weekends away in Holland.
I definitely made the right decision to become a Riverford franchisee and my future is here in Liverpool and Warrington continuing to grow my business.