Case Study: Kate Atkinson, Bridal Reloved
Falling in Love with Digital – Kate Atkinson, Bridal Reloved
“When a bride-to-be falls in love with her wedding gown, you know you have done a great job”. Kate Atkinson is the owner of two very profitable bricks and mortar shops selling beautiful pre-owned designer wedding gowns. The first Bridal Reloved outlet opened in Beverley, East Yorkshire, followed by her second in Dorchester where she now lives.
She set the business up as a life style choice two years ago. The business, however, had a mind of its own and has grown far quicker than she anticipated. With high demand from brides who have loved the Bridal Reloved experience, Kate is expanding further with another Bridal Reloved franchise due to open in Essex shortly. “Due to the power of social media we already have 5 bookings for this store and we haven’t even got the wall paper up yet!” Bridal Reloved may not be a lifestyle business for Kate any more but she still believes the franchise model is for those who do want to fit it around their own lifestyle.
Kate works with a franchise expert to create the systems and processes required for a turnkey franchise model. The cost of the franchise includes support in finding the right premises and the fit out. It also includes £18k worth of dresses at retail and Kate herself working alongside the franchise owner for the first week, sharing her invaluable knowledge and expertise.
When Kate came across the Dorset Business Women Go Digital programme, funded by the Government Equalities Office and delivered by WSX Enterprise, she was keen to explore how she might use technology to solve some of the challenges she was facing with her franchising plans. But she wasn’t too sure how it might help. Since the launch last November Kate has been a frequent flyer at all the workshops and group meetings.
Each month there has been a speaker on a technology topic followed by a facilitated discussion to help business women work through how they might use some of the technology ideas.
“I have learnt more from being involved in this free Go Digital programme over the last six months than I ever did from the £3000 per year that it cost me to get a university degree. My first franchisee has been working through Go Digital too. I will be looking for support just like this around the country for my franchisees when they start their businesses.”
Bridal Reloved already has a fan base of six and a half thousand on Facebook with a further thousand following on Twitter. Kate’s online social media strategy already serves her shops well. “As a result of our online activity, we had 40 bookings (not including walk-ins) last week and had to roll lots of brides over into the next week!“.
She has immediate plans for targeted Facebook advertising to generate a bigger fan base and is planning a YouTube channel (the second largest search engine after Google) to showcase how the dresses look, drape and move in motion.
Kate’s strategic plans for growth and the value of the annual franchise license fee will involve a significant promotional programme. She is currently working through her ideas with her peers on the longer term plans to develop the Bridal Reloved brand. With Kate’s ideas and boundless energy it won’t be long before brides all over the country will be able to enjoy the Bridal Reloved experience.