In conversation with The Fruit and Veg Man

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In conversation with The Fruit and Veg Man we spoke with founder Sanjay Roy about his journey into franchising and about how, and why, the business was formed originally.

Sanjay’s story is one of perseverance, chance encounters and transformative success. His journey highlights the importance of adaptability, resilience, and building trust in business relationships, all of which have been crucial in the expansion and success of The Fruit and Veg Man.

Basic information

Founder: Sanjay Roy
Founded: Core business started in 2020, first franchise location opened in 2023.
What they do in a nutshell: In simple terms they sell fruit and vegetables.
Why they’re great: Not only do they provide delicious and healthy fruit and veg in a variety of different services, but they are also affiliated to Keech Hospice and were initially set up to raise money for them (and they still do – thousands and thousands of pounds!)

In Conversation with The Fruit and Veg Man

Watch the full interview with Sanjay Roy here:

Ashtons Franchise managing consultant Phil Mowat chatted with Sanjay about all things franchising:

What does The Fruit and Veg Man do?

The Fruit and Veg Man pretty much does what it says on the tin – pretty straightforward. We sell fruit and veg, but we’re very unique in our sector. We’re the only fruit and veg business that has franchised in the way that we have in that we sell fruit and veg via 4 methods. The first is via market stalls. These are your traditional pop ups in a gazebo market stall. The second is our office fruit boxes. The third is our subscriber boxes or one-off boxes. The 4th method is our corporate customers. We have national contracts now where we can service restaurants, pubs, care homes, hospitals, anything corporate. So, there are four ways that the business runs.

How did you originally start business? When did it start? Why did you have the idea?

Well, I’d like to say I woke up in the middle of the night and had a Eureka moment, but it was completely the opposite. It was actually completely luck, accident, opportunism, a mixture of the three. During Covid I had furloughed myself as a personal trainer and being at home on my own was, one of the worst things that that could have happened to me. I had done a lot of fundraising for Keech Hospice who are a local Hospice round the corner from where I live. I know that funding and fundraising for them had gone down because of the pandemic. So, I thought, let’s see if I can sell some fruit and veg and raise some money at the same time. It was, I guess, a philanthropic start to the business.

With my background in knowing how to create a website, which I’d done for my personal training, I bought a domain name and set it up. I was very lucky with getting the domain name – thefruitandvegman.com – it’s quite straightforward and people realise what we do as soon as they hear it. When I got the domain and I put it up, the automatic SEO meant that I was getting orders from all over the country.

What made you think about franchising?

I’d say when I was getting orders from all over the country, I knew there was something there, but I didn’t quite know what. I realised if I wanted to fulfil orders in other parts of the country, then franchising would be a good way to go about it. That’s when I came across Ashtons.

What happened during your initial conversation with Nick Williams from Ashtons?

I had looked online for franchise consultants and Ashtons were by far the leading company. I had watched Nick on a presentation on YouTube that explained franchising in a lot more detail than I had in my head. That really attracted me to actually enquiring with Ashtons to see if they could help me.

The first time I called Nick and I explained to him what I was doing, and that I wanted to franchise. He said no, I wasn’t ready to franchise. I’d only been set up maybe a month or so. Yes, sure, I’d been getting money orders from all over the country, but that in itself wasn’t enough to franchise. Every time I spoke to Nick, what I really liked about him, it wasn’t just a ‘no’, it was a ‘no BUT have you thought about XY&Z?’.

So, I did XYZ and then I came back, and he said, ‘OK, we’re a little bit further into where you want to be – have you thought about 123 now?’ Then I went away and did that. We then got quite a big contract with an airport. It was at that point that Nick said, ‘I think you are ready because you now have a commercial contract that could potentially expand to other parts of the country’.

How did you find working with Ashtons and your consultant Phil Mowat?

I consider Phil not just a consultant, I consider Phil a friend – someone that I completely trust. Trust is a huge thing in business. If you win the trust of someone that you’re working with, then that basically filters down to your own customers. It is all about trust. And when we met, Phil did a surgical like analysis of the business. Has was very organised at each step and set out a timetable. He was a coach and mentor – and I listened to everything. He encouraged me to keep refining it, professionalising it, making it really succinct and evidence based. Phil’s help in keeping us organised, in executing the steps, is what’s made us, is what has got us to where we are today.

What is your experience with franchisee recruitment?

I think resilience is a word that it isn’t really spoken about much but that is certainly what you need an abundance of as a franchisor. When we went live with the recruitment within half an hour we’d had 40 applications. By the end of the first week, we had nearly 300 applications! It made me feel really good. But the downside was I had to call all three hundred of these leads and the majority of them were just not great. The biggest challenge was the time spent on those 300 calls – almost half an hour per call. Whereas now I think within 30 seconds, I will say yes or no – that comes with experience.

How many franchisees do you have now having launched 12 months ago?

We’ve got 5 franchisees but we’re in talks with a couple more. We’re still getting hundreds of applications in every week, and that’s really lovely.

What qualities would your ideal franchisee have?

Essentially, it is straightforward – just be nice. I think emotional intelligence is very important. The difference between success and failure is, is absolutely marginal. And it can all come down to mindset. We want to continuously evolve in our practises as franchise and franchisor.

What’s the best thing about being a franchisor?

I’d say the best thing is seeing the success of every single one of my franchisees, it’s a risk signing up to a relatively new franchise. But they’ve come in, and the numbers are staggering for each and every one of them.

What’s the biggest challenge being a franchisor?

I say the biggest challenge is actually that there’s so much stuff out there in the franchising world that sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. Do you join the BFA? Do you go to exhibitions? Who do you trademark the business with? Who do you map your territories with? I just get rid of the noise, and I just focus on the one thing that is the priority at that time. Then I do that 100% and then I go onto the next one.

Where would you like to be in 5 years’ time?

My hope is in five years’ time, the franchisees that we have are all happy and healthy. We make a big thing about mental health, that’s the sort of culture that we want to breed. In terms of numbers, I’d love coverage to be across Scotland, the northeast, the Southwest, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.

Could you be the next franchisee for The Fruit and Veg Man? Find out more about the franchise opportunity.

Do you want to follow in Sanjay’s footsteps and franchise your business? Contact us for a chat.

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