The Zip Yard is the perfect fit for franchisees looking for flexibility, sustainability and profit, says owner Neluka Dunning
Neluka Dunning, franchise owner of The Zip Yard in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, spent several years at home raising her children before looking for a new business opportunity when they started school. A The Zip Yard franchise proved to be the perfect solution, as she explains here.
What made you decide to invest in a zip yard franchise?
I considered and discounted countless business and franchise opportunities before I found The Zip Yard. One of the non-negotiables for me was that I needed to retain flexibility for my family, and many of the franchises I looked at – especially those open 24 hours a day or requiring me to be there into the evening – simply wouldn’t have allowed for that. By owning a The Zip Yard store, I could create a profitable business and build a highly skilled and trusted team, which allowed me to stay local and be around to drop off and collect my children from school every day.
Did you have a background in retail or clothing alterations?
No, and I can honestly say it isn’t essential. I’ve always enjoyed fashion and had my clothes tailored, altered, and repaired. Knowing what a huge difference clothes make to how you look and feel was one of the main factors why I wanted to pursue the opportunity. For me, it’s a win-win setup – you’re providing a service which people will always need (there’s no hard sell), you’re transforming how people feel about their clothes (and how they feel wearing them) and, by its very definition, you’re working on a business that’s helping to create a more sustainable and green future.
How did you find the initial set up?
It’s daunting to decide to invest in your own business – especially when you’re starting out in an industry that you’ve not worked in before, but The Zip Yard made it surprisingly simple. It’s a really professional business and one of the reasons why the brand has been so successful (there are 53 stores across the UK and Ireland). I did two days of intensive training at another successful store – during which time I learnt all about how the business is run and how to function operationally. Something I found particularly useful was that I was able to order everything I needed for the store in one click from head office. Franchise owners are empowered to run their businesses in a way that suits them – and that includes building their own supplier relationships if they want to do that – but from the off, you can benefit from the long-standing affiliations the brand already has.
What makes it a unique proposition?
There are so many incredible things about being a The Zip Yard franchise owner. In fact, I see so much value in it that I now own the UK franchise network. From the off, you’re part of a wider team and have support with marketing and recruitment. There’s a deeply embedded focus on exceptional customer service that runs throughout the company and, most importantly, for seeing the transformation of a garment from initial fitting to completion – it really never gets old. Our stores are spotlessly clean, welcoming and have large fitting rooms – it’s a world away from some of the cramped, unwelcoming tailors I’ve been in previously.
How is the franchise performing now?
Brilliantly – we’re well known in the area and work hard to delight every customer. We do lots of higher-end tailoring on jackets and dresses, but it’s the small moments I love the most – including some of our regular customers who have arthritis and often come in to have buttons replaced or zips mended. Some franchise owners offer home visits for affluent customers, others focus on bridal or specialist services. The great thing is you can build the business around what your customers want.
What advice would you give to your former self, with the knowledge you have learned from being a franchisee?
Only that I wish I’d done it sooner. It’s financially rewarding, while also being a genuinely great business for a more sustainable world.
What would you say to someone wanting to become a franchisee?
Get in touch. The aim is to have a The Zip Yard store in every city, so if it’s a specific geographical location you’re after, it’s the perfect proposition.
At a glance
Number of franchised outlets:
Location of units:
territories available across the UK
initial franchise fee: £15,000, total investment including all set up £42,000 (inc VAT)
Neluka Dunning, managing director, The Zip Yard GB – firstname.lastname@example.org 07538 276449