When McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken wanted badges for their staff, it was the start of a big business adventure for Recognition Express
That was 1979. More than 30 years later and Recognition Express is the European market leader in corporate recognition products. It’s also the most successful franchise network in its sector in this country, with over 50 franchise owners in the UK and Europe. Its portfolio is extensive and includes supplying branded business gifts and promotional products, personalised name badges, staff awards, posters, banners and signs, plus a full range of branded clothing, to businesses and organisations in the UK.
For managing director Nigel Toplis the secret to success is finding exceptional franchisees who share his desire to be the best in the business, along with a great range of products, a professional design service and personal attention.
“We’re all about quality and pride in a job well done,” he says. “I never cease to be amazed at the jobs our franchisees take on. They’re so inventive - from producing pens for the island of St Helena’s tourism authority to printing waterproof jackets for a brass band who were fed up of getting wet on parade. They’re always up for a challenge.”
Over a period of 30 years franchise owner Paul Mitchell has been able to develop his business safe in the knowledge he will always receive high levels of support from Recognition Express.
“I’ve been a Recognition Express franchisee since 1981, which means I’ve seen how the business has developed and improved every year,” says Paul. “The business today is very different from when I launched. There’s a huge emphasis on branding and marketing - a focus on making Recognition Express the first choice for our customers.
“The market has also changed too due to the growing importance of branding to any business. This means that there’s a lot more potential - any business can be considered a potential client.”
Paul adds: “I’d always wanted to work for myself and it turned out that Recognition Express provided a great way for me to achieve this. It was their ability to provide great training and support that first attracted me to the business and this has got better and better. The business is always looking forward and has always been focused on improving its systems. The training is now very sophisticated and, with all the added support, the franchise package is second to none.”
Operating in the business to business sector, Recognition Express has been a full member of the British Franchise Association since 1980 and is a past winner of the bfa Franchisor of the Year Award. The company is renowned for its high level of ongoing franchisee support, advice and programmes in marketing, sales, product sourcing, technology and business planning.
Centrally designed, managed and implemented direct marketing programmes form the backbone of the company’s marketing systems, which are augmented by high quality collateral, marketing tools and ongoing training designed to drive business growth, client contact and brand awareness.
Recognition Express franchise owners come from all walks of life - from teachers and factory bosses to former military personnel. They include former accountant Stuart Fisher, 49, from Harrow, who says: “I had always fancied running my own business and didn’t want to look back in 10 years and wish I’d taken the plunge.
“Two years on and I can honestly say Recognition Express does everything it says on the label. There’s comprehensive training with refreshers if needed, great support in all areas of the business and a helpful network of franchise owners.”
Says Nigel Toplis: “It’s you who makes the key decisions in your franchise business, but you are not on your own because we are always on hand with help and advice, business planning, financial planning, marketing programmes, training and much more.
“As part of the largest franchise network for corporate merchandise and recognition products, our franchise owners also benefit from our considerable purchasing power. We get the very best products from the very best suppliers, keeping our network one step ahead of the competition.”