Shebang touts franchise scheme as ‘best by mile’


“This will be the biggest thing for Shebang in 2011,” says boss Iain Humphrey of new franchise scheme ‘The Purple Partnership’

Shebang Distribution will open its tightly-controlled new ‘Purple Partnership’ franchising scheme to the wider dealer market from February.

The new scheme is already running with around 115 shops under its Go Mobile retail signage, a combination of wholly-owned sites and former JAG franchises.

Shebang has direct airtime contracts in place with Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and Three. It has brought in eight new account management staff, split between the office and the field.

Another four have been recruited to field customer queries, and also follow up purchases from all shoppers to all Go Mobile sites to gauge satisfaction and offer after-sales support.

Shebang managing director Iain Humphrey (pictured) said franchisees will be paid full ongoing commission from all operator suppliers, which he claimed is unlike the terms of competitor schemes.

Humphrey said franchisees brought across with the purchase of JAG in August had seen an uplift in connection volumes and profitablity in the first month’s trading under Go Mobile, with a 100 per cent jump for some of them.

“After months of chaos, they are writing better business and earning more,” said Humphrey.

He said the Purple Partnership scheme would be bedded down through the new year, when Shebang will open up to new partners. Humphrey said: “Shebang is clearly better than JAG was from a logistics point of view.

“That is an instant win for franchisees. It is important that JAG turned a lot of sales staff into business owners, and should be applauded for it. But our scheme is new, and is better than any other kind of franchise programme in the channel, and a country mile better than say Fonehouse, in terms of the support, commercial package and logistics. When it launches in February, it will have a better front-end than anything else out there, just as it already has the best back-end in the market.”

He added: “This will be the biggest thing for Shebang in 2011, alongside our web developments.”

Humphrey gathered Go Mobile partners last week for an open discussion about the direction of the programme. He admitted the Shebang management team had expected a “grilling”, but found sales to be up and franchisees to be committed.

He said both he and former JAG boss John George had made personal loans to see certain partners through some recent difficulty, notably with outstanding stock.

“Account for account, as a distributor I might not have taken some on under normal circumstances. But we sat down and talked with them. We have put a lot of our own money into this, and we believe they are great businesses,” said Humphrey.