Offering one stop solution in mobile related services is The MobileStore. In an interview, Srikant Gokhale, CEO, The MobileStore updates us about the growth and expansion of the company via franchising.
Ramanjit Kaur (RK): Share with us the concept of The MobileStore. What is its USP?
Srikant Gokhale (SG): The MobileStore promoted by the Essar Group, is a one stop mobile solution shop which offers mobiles, mobile accessories, mobile connections, mobile bill payments, and many other services all under one roof in a world class shopping ambience.
The USP of our store is experiential selling of mobile phones according to the needs of our customers. Hence the USP lies in its simplicity. It is a ‘Simple to Understand, Easy to Implement, Low Cost-High Return Franchise Model’. As the name goes, we at The MobileStore strive to delight our customers with a complete touch-n-feel experience of the mobile phone world. The MobileStores has gained the expertise to manage retail business in mobile space.
RK: What inspired the company to take the franchise route for expansion?
SG: Franchise route for expansion is historically the most successful medium to expand operations in minimum time and at multiple touch points. At The MobileStore, we believe that our learning which have now transformed into some of the best practices in the industry shall help us and the franchisee to make it a win–win model.
RK: What kind of training and support does the company provide to its franchisees? What is the role and responsibility of the franchisees?
G: The franchisee will have access to hire its staff from the state of art ‘Retail Academy’ of The MobileStore, which is first of its kind to train and prepare quality manpower for retail industry. Also, the regional field team of the company shall help franchisees to train their staff with various aspects like soft skills, product features, systems and processes, latest technologies etc. Franchisees shall be responsible to follow minimum qualification guidelines for staff. Also, they need to take their staff to weekly refresher modules provided by the company training teams.
RK: What are your future expansion plans across India?
SG: We are planning to come up with 50 mobile Applications (Apps) stores across major metros in India, from where the customers can walk out with fully loaded mobile phone applications upgrading their phones to SmartPhones with the assistance of staff at TMS’s Apps stores.
The company also plans to add another 1000 stores in next three years via franchisee route and another 500 COCO stores. A majority of expansion will be in tier II towns.
RK: What is the investment and space requirement by prospective franchisees?
SG: The total set up cost ranges from Rs four to five lakh. The working capital needed is Rs 2.5 lakh. The MobileStore has different space requirements. Our franchisees can operate under different formats in which the space can range from less than 600 sq. ft to 1500 sq ft.
RK: What challenges does a franchisee face while setting up his franchised outlet?
SG: For the franchisee, the key challenge is to match the service levels set by the company and provide the same service as the COCO store. The strong training arm of the company shall help them to match the service standards. Moreover, it is challenging to ensure the stocking norms for the franchisees. It is very important to ensure that no stock dumping is done by local vendors/dealers on the franchisee. Also pilferage at the franchisee store has to be kept at the minimum. The company has successfully replicated its ‘strong auditing measures’ at the franchisee stores to overcome these issue.