Mum of three Christine Lambie, 42, from Thornton Cleveleys near Blackpool has been running a Riverford Home Delivery franchise with her husband David for the past 15 months.
“David was looking for a career change,” explains Christine. “He wanted to be his own boss and I was keen to get back to work after having the children so one night we sat down and started thinking about what interested us and what we might be able to do and found ourselves looking at the British Franchise website. After trawling through the site we came across Riverford, liked what we saw, and thought we would go for it. The franchise opportunity came with fairly low start up costs compared to some which was another appeal as well as the fact that we liked the idea of being involved in a business which was about eating healthy, local and seasonal vegetables and supported the environment.”
Christine now manages the day to day business from home, with her youngest in tow, while David continues to work four days a week for the local authority before becoming the local vegman on a Friday and getting in to his Riverford van and setting off delivering vegboxes to customers across Blackpool and the Fylde coast.
Prior to giving birth to her eldest child Jacob, 8, followed by Marcus, 6, then Natasha, 3, Christine had worked for both the John Lewis Partnership and food distributor Cox Radcliffe, so brought experience of retail and distribution to the table when they decided to launch their Riverford Home Delivery business in October 2008.
They were able to fund the new business with a business loan from Lloyds TSB.
The business has developed steadily and Christine and David are looking to push additional sales early in 2010 through a number of promotional initiatives. These include open van sessions, Riverford Cooks events (anything from full scale cooking demos to customer lunches in village halls), leafleting, attending farmers markets and other community events and of course advertising and PR.
Christine puts their success to date down to the quality of the produce they sell and offering a friendly, polite and courteous service so their customers who she finds then have confidence in recommending them to other people. “Word of mouth is so important,” she says.
Christine advises anyone considering starting a franchise business to really do their homework and ask as many questions as possible before going ahead. She says you also need to work hard at maintaining a good work life balance, especially if you have a young child still at home. “It is hard work and long hours but you have to be strict and make sure that family life doesn’t suffer,” she explains. “It’ not always easy but we all muck in together and the children have learned not to hassle mum while she’s at the computer!”
Family Friendly Working readers can enjoy their 4th box free from their own local Riverford Home Delivery service. For more information please visit www.riverford.co.uk.