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From BluCrate customer to development veep


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BluCrate Franchise Systems is going after what Travis Hills, vice president, calls an “underserved” market: smaller, outlying communities.

BluCrate, a direct mail, coupon pack company, is targeting these smaller communities with their product, because larger cities already are served by other companies, said Hills. 

The franchise is owned by Sunray Printing Solutions in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which has provided the “promo pack” to area businesses for 20 years. It was a good fit, because they use their existing printing business to print the coupons. The principals at Sunray felt they were on to something, so they created and started franchising the BluCrate concept five years ago. They have eight franchises in Minnesota, and one in Surprise, Arizona. 

Hills joined the company earlier this year, because BluCrate wanted to ramp up franchise development. He was an Anytime Fitness franchisee for eight years, eventually selling his company after he had built it to 10 locations. He later sold franchises for iBeach, a tanning franchise. He was familiar with the BluCrate concept, because he used them when he was an Anytime Fitness franchisee.

Because of his background, “I can relate to the franchisees we’re bringing on board,” he said. “I’ve walked down the path, and I want to help them not go down the wrong one, if that’s the case. This concept isn’t for everyone.”

According to Hills, BluCrate franchisees are extroverted people who are comfortable selling to businesses in these smaller communities—“go-getters, who want independent freedom. We’ll train them on the selling techniques.” 

The franchise has little overhead for franchisees, he said: “You need a car, a cellphone and a laptop and you are ready to go.” They are targeting owner-operators, and one person could manage three territories, which are based on zip codes and number of households. One investor already has signed for 12 territories, and is setting up his own sales force. 

Hills believes the concept is “recession resistant” because it’s shared direct mail and a more efficient use of advertising dollars.The goal is to sign 45 more franchises the first year, and to hit the 100 mark the second. 

 

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