Re-feel, a cartridge refilling major is a cent percentage franchised firm. In an interview with Neha Malhotra, Mr Alkesh Aggarwal, CEO, Re-feel Cartridge Engineering talks about Re-feel’s inception, growth and success with franchising.
Neha Malhotra (NM): Tell us about the origin, growth and success of Re-feel as a brand? When, where and how did it originate?
Alkesh Aggarwal (AA): Being an integral part of the IT industry for the last ten to twelve years, we had developed an efficient technical perception of the industry. Cartridge related troubles were regularly encountered by us as well as our clients. Costly cartridges coupled with the high per page print costs were regular headaches since cost control was getting extremely difficult. You can call it a spark in the mind or Lady Luck’s mercy, that an opportunity was recognised and we were on our way to bridge the huge gap between the demand and supply of cartridge refilling. Three years of extensive research, brought us to the opening of our first retail store at Kolkata in Oct, 2007.
NM: When and how did the company decide to opt for franchising?
AA: Even as amateurs in the industry, we had the confidence that the industry had high potentials, but as we stepped into the industry, we realised that refilling demand was far more than anticipated. We therefore generated a franchise module of expansion and successfully convinced potential entrepreneurs who opened stores in Kolkata and Jaipur and we were on our way. Our first franchise unit was opened in October, 2007.
NM: What all services do you provide?
AA: Our prime services include, refilling of inkjet and laser cartridges. We also provide OEM cartridges, re-manufactured cartridges, office stamps, photo-papers. The secret lies in our process which is environmentally safe and at the same time very cost effective. We save nature, save money, yet secure considerable profits for the franchisees.
NM: How many outlets do you have at present and how many of these are franchised?
AA: We are India’s leading printer cartridge refilling chain with our presence at 70 premium locations across 50 cities of India. We solely follow the franchising mode for our expansion and all our stores are franchised.
NM: What all training and support do you provide to the franchisees?
AA: We have a very scientifically designed training module. After all training makes all the difference. The eight day training given to franchisees basically covers the entire technical procedure. Besides we also provide assistance training for marketing, accounts and tax, and other related miscellaneous topics on the industry and the store which the franchisee is about to own.
NM: How much investment is required by an aspiring franchisee in terms of money, time, and dedication?
AA: We have divided our national market into two categories. For A cities, you require an investment of around eight to 10 lakhs whereas the B cities require an investment of around four to six lakhs. An area of 300-400 sq. ft is also required. Dedication, as we say is directly proportional to the amount of profits one seeks. To put it in simple terms, success shall follow dedication.
NM: What is the break even period for a Re-feel franchisee?
AA: An operational break even is expected in three to four months time and a project break even is expected in 12-18 months time depending upon each individual’s performance.
NM: What are the company’s future plans in terms of expansion through franchising or through company owned outlets?
AA: We are looking forward to open 250 stores by 2010. At present we do not have franchisees outside India but we are open to master franchisees internationally.