It’s not often you hear of an opportunity to own a business and raise cash for a good cause at the same time. That’s why Oast House Farm Snacks, the franchise that raises money for local hospices by selling office snacks, is proving so popular with franchisees and customers alike.”
As is often the case, the founding of Oast House Farm Snacks was driven by a change of life circumstances. “My wife wanted to go back into work after our first son started school,” says Matthew Simmonds, the company’s franchise director. “But back in her job as a veterinary nurse, there weren’t the hours to fit around that.” Fortunately, they had recently stumbled upon a business concept they felt had a lot of potential. They came across a company that was placing a basket of flapjacks into an office and inviting people to pay by putting a pound in an envelope. “It was like bees to a honeypot,” says Simmonds. “If somebody did that with a good cause-related marketing campaign behind it, I could see it would make a good little business.”
“This kind of philanthropy has always been baked into Oast House Farm Snacks – and with good reason. “We’d recently lost my wife’s father to cancer and got involved with the local hospice,” Simmonds says. “We found out how much money they needed to raise because we wanted to create a business for her that would also help us do a bit of fundraising.” The business quickly took off and Simmonds soon started to wonder if he and his wife could help other hospices around the country. They reached out to another home in Brighton and soon found themselves managing a multi-site operation. “I ended up going down to Brighton in my spare time,” he says. “Then we employed somebody to take it on and it went a bit crazy from there.””
Before long, the entrepreneurs realised that a franchising model would actually be a great fit for Oast House Farm Snacks. “It became quite clear that if our employee in Brighton was running as a franchisee, they would be running profitably,” says Simmonds. But they were aware that converting the model would take some work – operating Oast House Farm Snacks as a business owner would entail many additional financial considerations such as VAT and tax. Fortunately, its Brighton employee served as the perfect pilot for the fledgling franchise and became the first franchisee to buy into the business. “Developing the model was really about homing in on the pain points that she would go through and supporting her through that whole process,” he adds.
By June 2015, Oast House Farm Snacks had proven its model and was ready to begin franchising. But how does its service actually work? “We use two local bakeries and then we have a much larger contract with a manufacturer for the remainder of our products,” says Simmonds. Boxes of these products, which include everything from flapjacks and rocky road to muffins and cookies, are delivered to local businesses; employees pay based on an honesty system and after ten days the cash and remaining products are collected.”