Schmidt Kitchens UK expansion manager, Rosalyn Hastings, explains how a broken down car led her to a career in the kitchen business
Rosalyn Hastings was given a car for her 17th birthday. She explains: “Everything was fine until it started making horrendous screeching noises and then seized up. No one had told me that you had to put oil in as well as fuel.”
Her parents refused to buy her another one, so Rosalyn abandoned her job at a building society and took another one as a trainee kitchen designer - just to get the company car.
“That blown-up car changed my whole life,” she says. “I fell in love with the world of kitchen design and sales.”
Rosalyn’s new career delivered experience in design, sales and showroom management, as well as expertise in franchising up to director level. Now as UK expansion manager for the Schmidt Kitchens and Interior Solutions franchise, she uses her experience to source and develop new franchisees to meet Schmidt’s plans to open 10 to 15 new UK outlets a year.
ADDRESSING THE BALANCE
Strangely, although it’s women who spend most time in the kitchen, the kitchen sales business has historically been largely the preserve of men.
“Things are much more balanced today, but I remember turning up to measure for a new kitchen and the customers saying they expected a man,” Rosalyn says. “I think it’s because kitchen design includes measurement and technical details and there’s a sales element - both of which were once seen as male specialities. I’m living proof that they’re not.”
Schmidt’s network of franchisees includes three female sole franchisees - including one who combines her business with bringing up children - and other women who are co-franchisees.
“Some female customers seem to feel more comfortable buying from a woman”
“We welcome women as franchisees,” Rosalyn says. “Some female customers seem to feel more comfortable buying from a woman, provided she has the necessary technical expertise - and our franchisee training provides that.
“Women in the kitchen design market also seem to be more comfortable sharing their practical experience of using kitchen layouts, which often helps build a relationship with female customers.”
Some customers react differently to men and women, which is why Schmidt encourages a mix of staff in all its showrooms.
One of the attractions of setting up a kitchen and interior solutions business with the Schmidt franchise is the ability to talk to a network of other franchisees.
“Women particularly seem to like sharing experiences of what works well for them,” Rosalyn says. “They are open to listening and want to learn from each other, so they appreciate the chance to access the advice of other franchisees, which benefits them and the franchise as a whole.”
Her message to women wanting to start a business is: “If you want to talk with another woman who has extensive experience in the kitchen franchise sector, I’m here and we also have female franchisees you can speak to. Come and talk to us!”
At a glance
Number of franchised outlets: 26
Location of units: Retail parks and high streets
Investment range: £350,000
Minimum required capital: £80,000