- Home Based, Mobile
Plan-it Cards is a greetings card publisher that distributes high-quality cards, gift wrap and gift bags directly to independent stores and national retail accounts e.g. Costcutter, Premier and Londis through our franchisee network.
We provide a monthly merchandising service with a unique planned display system (hence our name) that enables the retailer to offer a balanced selection of Everyday, Spring Seasons and Christmas cards expertly tailored to match consumers’ buying habits and the seasonality promotions.
Plan-it Cards franchisees provide this service to any retail outlet that sells cards! All card and gift wrap designs published are designed in-house, use the highest quality materials and are exclusive to Plan-it Cards.
We distribute our high-quality and exclusive range of greetings cards and gift wrappings to retailers across the UK and beyond. It’s that simple.
There are still a limited number of franchise territories remaining available across the UK.
Established in 2000, Plan-it Cards has flourished over two decades of success built on the quality and range of our products and the strength of our Franchisee distribution network.
The first Plan-it Cards franchisee joined in March 2002. 50% of our current network franchisees are now on their second or third 5-year agreements.
92% of our Network would recommend us [Source: 2021 WorkBuzz Franchise Satisfaction Benchmark].
We are a people business, and we think this says a lot about our ethos.
We also love greetings cards. It’s what we do! We create every design here in the UK and take pride in every design which has our name on the back.
Our focus remains to provide the highest quality in everything we do. You too can have this confidence in what you are promoting and selling.
Franchise re-sale prices depend on their size and level of development.
For a green field territory you’ll need an initial cash investment of £16,400 plus VAT plus minimum working capital of £5,000 for additional stock and the day-to-day running of the business. Plan-it Cards can support you to gain franchise funding if needed.
Joining Plan-it Cards gives you:
Regular monthly income. You make a 4-weekly visit to merchandise the outlets. Consistent repeat business.
Tremendous Growth Potential. Through developing current customers and finding new ones using our system. Extra sales generated through ancillary lines and seasonal opportunities.
Low risk, low overheads, and a high-profit margin. Franchisees typically start working from home using their own car and mobile devices.
A recognised brand with longevity. We’ve just turned 21. We are also an accredited, full member of the British Franchise Association (bfa) and have been for over 10 years
Flexible hours so you can shape your life-work balance Most of our customers are in the convenience sector, so you can plan your visits around their opening hours.
Full training and support. We will support you from day 1 but more importantly we’ll continue to support you for the life of your business.
Exclusivity. We create all our own greetings cards and gift wrap designs, they are exclusive to our network and you have your own exclusive territory!
No previous business experience is necessary. The Plan-it Cards know-how and business model has been developed and perfected, so you will hit the ground running to drive your business forward.
We follow best franchising practices, and you’ll have access to a bfa Qualified Franchise Professional as part of our management team. This knowledge & quality standard runs through our all of our training programmes and recruitment.
Our initial 2 –week training course covers all the elements of running and growing a greetings card franchise (including shadowing an existing franchisee).
We give you the knowledge and best practice to speak with new customers. All aspects of running your own business will be covered:
Our online Operating Manual is also accessible when you need it, throughout the lifetime of your franchise.
Our training, as you would expect, is constantly evolving and has been put together by an experienced management team with over 30 years franchise experience.
Our on-going support for the franchisee is focused on the continued sales growth of their business and is provided through a structured support programme in the field as you find and grow your customer base.
Franchisees normally visit between 8-10 retail sites a day with a typical day involving the preparation of displays at home (or small storage unit) and then installation of these displays in store.
Calls to the retailers are carried out monthly with a fresh display of stock installed each visit. With new designs released monthly there is always something new to show the retailer.
On each visit customers pay for what they sell. There is minimal paperwork and most shops pay on the day of visit.
The franchisees then return home with the previous month’s unsold stock to replenish and make sure the stock is ready for the next day’s calls.
Colin Jakes, was initially introduced to Plan-it Cards by his brother Graham, who was an existing Plan-it Cards franchisee at the time. He was delighted when the Plan-it Cards Brighton territory became available to purchase.
“I had been considering a career change for some time and was familiar with Graham’s franchise and the success he was making [of it]. I knew I wanted to run my own business but it was important to me that my choice of business allowed me to fit it around my family commitments”
“I knew the Plan-it Cards range of greetings cards from helping Graham occasionally with his business in the Croydon territory, when the Brighton franchise became available, I met up with the Plan-it Cards team for interviews. I had a pretty good idea from Graham how it worked but Plan-it Cards filled in all the gaps of exactly how the franchise worked. It was one of the most important decisions of my life so I did my research about other greeting card franchises available, but it was the Plan-it Cards range of product and the potential growth within the territory that made the choice easier to make.”
Colin, outlines the daily tasks of running his business: “I do all of the merchandising. It’s important that I interact with my customers, build relationships and get to know them and their needs. It’s the most important aspect of what I do. I visit the shops and organise stock to a pre-planned display making sure the product is all up-to-date with new designs. I also manage the shop’s seasonal requirements like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, as well as some of the minor promotional events like Thank You Teacher. This allows me to give the product in each store a distinctive feel for the time of year.”
Colin also has part-time help to manage the essential back office administration that is involved in any lively business – managing the accounts, stock planning and reordering. This allows him the time to focus ‘out in the field’ and develop new business.
A typical day for Colin can involve making up to 6-8 calls a day – depending on the size of the displays and which part of his territory he is in – to deliver and merchandise greetings cards, gift wrap and gift bags. Because greetings cards are a convenience product the type of stores visited vary from independent shops, newsagents, farm shops and supermarkets.
He says: “I now have a core base of around 100 shops double the number from when I bought the franchise. Having an initial number of shops certainly helped provide income from day one. From the start I have been opening new shops every month as well as developing and building up relationships with my existing customers to make sure their displays meet the demands of their customers. I make sure that all my shops are merchandised on a monthly basis and as my business has grown it is important that I am organised, particularly with regards to effective route planning and having the right designs available at the right time to service the shops.
“I really enjoy what I do. Being my own boss is something that I’ve always wanted. It is hard work but I am in charge. There is something satisfying in knowing that I am in control of my own time. And the good thing moving forward is that there is a still a great deal of growth potential in my area.”
Jacky is the Plan-it Cards Franchisee of the year 2021 and was awarded this recognition for her professional representation of the Plan-it Cards brand, and her unwavering dedication to building her business during the uncertain times of the Covid pandemic.
As a female Franchisee, Jacky is an inspiration to other women within the Plan-it Cards network and for those considering operating their own Franchise Business.
There are many reasons for wanting to run your own business and achieving a better work/life balance was an important consideration for Jacky, when making her decision to take on the Plan-it Cards franchise.
What was it that Attracted you to Running your own Business?
“Before I had my daughter I ran a trim shop, for a company who supplied the MoD. I did not think about working again until she had started school, as I did not want to leave her with a childminder. I was attracted to running my own business for the work/life balance with flexible hours and being able to work from home.
“Once she started school, buying the business was great for me as I could decide when to work and still did not have to have a childminder.
“It is hard to believe but I have now been running this business for more years than I care to remember, and as my daughter has grown up, I have been able to spend more time building up the business.
“There are always daily challenges in any business, but I enjoy what I do. At the end of it though I know the more time I spend building up the business the greater the rewards. That’s a great feeling.”
Why Plan-it Cards?
“I love greetings cards and it is a friendly ‘people’ business to be involved with. Working with the range of cards we have is lovely as they are bright and colourful with generally more added value finishes than our competitors and you don’t get bored! There are new designs coming out all the time.
I get regular feedback and support from the Plan-it Cards management team and I feel that as I’ve developed my franchise business the support, they have been able to offer has matched my progress. I cannot think of anything I do not like about the business.”
What is it like Running your Own Business?
“Simply you get out of it what you put in, but the rewards are very good and fulfilling when you look at what you have achieved. Going into business, especially as a woman, is not easy and is no excuse for an easy life. I like not having to answer to a boss, being able to work from home and organising my time and myself. And if I need any advice I know Plan-it Cards management team are there to support me.”
“Even during the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021 my business has continued to grow.
Plan-it Cards are developing our national account contacts and with this growth I am expanding the business on to the next stage. Space is important to expand and so I have bought and sited storage unit in our garden which my husband David has fitted out as a ‘pick and pack facility’, from which I prepare my customer stock boxes.
“I have a good size of territory, so you need time to spend developing it, as there is always opportunities to open new shops and develop the business. It is always important to have realistic, achievable business goals and I plan to have 150 good performing sites spread throughout my territory.”
Ian is one of Plan-it Cards longest serving Franchisees having been involved with the business for over twenty-one years, his support and dedication was recognised in 2021 with
the awarding of a special recognition award and previously he has been Franchisee of the Year.
Start of Ian's Franchise Journey
Ian started his Franchise journey after being made redundant from his Senior Director role within the local West Midlands newspaper industry.
He knew he had a number of transferable skills that could be put to good use for himself, and when the opportunity arose he knew he couldn’t pass up the chance to run his own business.
Initially Ian purchased the Franchise territory of Walsall/Wolverhampton area and subsequently added on the adjoining territories as they became available and his business started to grow, today Ian services more than 230 retail outlets.
Opportunity to Grow his Business
Working to the Plan-it Cards business model; Ian views his level of customer service and productivity as the foundation to his success.
“There's something very special about growing your own business and I still get a huge buzz out of seeing my sales grow monthly. Some of my customers have been with me from the very start. I have accounts that sold a few cards a month in the early days and are now some of my largest and most profitable accounts.”
Ian sees the benefit of Plan-it Cards regular releases of new product and growth in its product range. He believes that it helps maintain interest in the displays and offers opportunities to expand business into the bigger retail units.
Developing his Business by Investing in Infrastructure
As part of his business's development, Ian has moved his operation out of home into an office unit where he stores, picks and packs the stock needed for his customers displays.
Ian explains “I was never comfortable working from home, the culture I am used to is very much office based and I have been happier since replicating it within my own business”
Like many Franchisees Ian now uses a small van to carry out his daily business. “The display stands we now offer to retailers are much easier to transport and it does help greatly when you are looking to develop accounts, also I can do more calls in a day.”
Satisfied Customers are the Best Advert for the Business
As a proactive Franchisee Ian is quick to respond to any opportunities to develop his Plan-it Cards territory and pleased that most of his new business is now coming from referrals from satisfied existing customers, which is testimonial to Ian's service to his customers and the strength of the Plan-it Cards brand.
Simon Hanna had just been made redundant, but he and his wife Caroline knew they wanted to continue to work where they lived in North Yorkshire.
‘’Caroline and I have been in greetings cards for over 30 years at various managerial levels, including owning our retail business. For the last five years I have been heavily involved in franchising, and have recently attained my Qualified Franchise Professional (QFP) qualification in the process.‘’ explained Simon.
‘’Though there is never an easy time to be made redundant, we knew that our next step would be to do something together. We had no additional responsibilities to deal with as our two grown up kids, Becky and James, have now left home. Looking around at various opportunities, I heard through my business contacts about a local opportunity at Plan-it Cards and met them at one of the industry trade shows.
“We particularly liked the product so we investigated further. I initially had a lot of questions through my QFP franchise training, even though Plan-it Cards was already a well-established brand. Having conducted a real in-depth interview, I was pleased with how their business system held together. In addition, I also took the opportunity to speak to a number of existing franchisees.
“Although not the biggest player in the market, their personal touch and commitment to making their franchisee’s businesses work really impressed Caroline and myself. With 70+ years’ greeting card experience between the two principals who run Plan-it Cards, I knew that what they did not know about greetings cards wasn’t worth knowing.
“More importantly, I knew from doing our research on the territory I was buying that we could add extra value to the business. Three years on I have been very pleased with the outcome and have a real asset to sell on – when the time is right!
“Good luck or judgement? I’m a great believer that you make your own luck, I work very hard and the rewards are there.
“We follow the Plan-it Cards system - all our customers receive a monthly visit. Our day starts early and we visit roughly 8-10 retailers every day. Each store receives a full merchandising visit, with each retailer getting a fresh display of cards every visit, so that their regular customers are always seeing something new from Plan-it Cards.
“We invoice each customer every visit only for what they sell, and for the majority of my customers they pay me there and then, making our business very much a cash orientated one.
“The final task of my day is to return the stock back on to the warehouse shelves and prepare packs for the eight to ten calls we do the next day.
“When you enjoy working for yourself there are never enough hours in the day. Some of my retailers are very demanding but I believe I’m an integral part of their team. Things never stand still at retail and I like to discuss my on-going plans with the retailers, talking through each season, analysing their figures, trying things out and helping them to promote their businesses, which in turn helps me.
“We have, in the last six months, moved the business from our home to a rented office and storage facility and have just achieved our best ever monthly sales figures. We have also taken on a part-time merchandiser so we can continue to grow the business and carry on offering the level of personal service our shops benefit from.‘’
Alistair Black was awarded the Plan-it Cards 2016 franchisee of the year.
Although he had been in the industry for over 25 years, his motivation for joining Plan-it Cards was very clear. He wanted to create something tangible from his experience and efforts in the business. To build an asset that he could develop, grow and sell on in the future.
‘’My choice of Plan-it Cards was based on knowing that you are only as good as the product you sell. The Plan-it Cards range of greetings cards, gift wrap and gift bags and display equipment options are second to none – with a regular infusion of new designs across the product ranges coming out monthly, including seasonal as appropriate.’’ explained Alistair.
‘’I’ve seen a change in buying habits as consumers now treat cards as a convenience product and not as a planned purchase. I was used to dealing with specialised card shops in my previous job but realised that changes in retail with more access to greetings cards, as an impulse purchase, was becoming more the norm. Shops that never before thought of selling cards are now benefitting from stocking cards. This change has made greetings cards available in many more outlets, giving me more opportunities so that now limited space is the most common objection to overcome.’’
The market has now moved on, and Alistair has capitalised on his vision through a wide variety of shapes and sizes of shops. He has expanded his business especially over the last few years. Having originally run the business from home, he outgrew the space and now rents storage space nearby. He employs two part-time merchandisers and a packer to help service his area to best effect.
‘’You need to have a certain drive to succeed and not be afraid of hard work. I know, compared to other Plan-it Cards franchisees, that I do not have as many shops but I prefer to spend my time developing the opportunities available in each outlet. I feel for the first time that I have the right work/leisure balance as I want to spend more time with my wife Dawn and son Louis.
My role within the business has changed over the last five years so now I have staff to manage as well as the stores. I now have to bring many more skills into play and this makes it more enjoyable.
I have just renewed my franchise agreement for another five years as I feel there is still a tremendous number of opportunities available. New everyday product lines, like gift wrap, gift bags and seasonal products like roll wrap, big value boxes and money wallets ensure that we are not standing still. As the size of my displays within the shops grows, our range of products has developed to suit the space available.’’
Maciej Warchocki, the Plan-it Cards franchisee for London, has just expanded his business by buying a neighbouring franchise territory when it recently became available. He takes up the story:
"I previously worked in Information Technology (IT) but have always wanted to run my own business. I felt restricted and undervalued in my job. I concluded the only way I was able to work hard and achieve success in a flexible way was to work for myself.
“I knew a little bit about greetings cards having worked in a warehouse for a rival company. I understood that greetings cards was a good, stable and profitable business to be in. I was aware of the two joint owners of the Plan-it Cards business, but I had no sales or business experience prior to setting up my business with Plan-it Cards.
“Thankfully the clue was in the name; Plan-it Cards. The company releases over 80 designs a year, making sure we have the right product at the right time to supply to our retailers. With over 400 designs available at any one time there is plenty of choice.
“Having the re-assurance of the quality of product I was able to concentrate on the set-up of my business, and head office have been on hand at every stage through the initial planning, development and establishment of my business with help and advice.
“Originally coming from Poland where there is not a strong culture of sending and receiving cards, I found the training was particularly relevant with respect to learning about a £1.1 billion market, and tailoring greetings card displays to suit consumer tastes and the retail space. What I also liked was the practical training days, which gave me the opportunity to meet other like-minded franchisees and get tips from them and learn from their experiences. I found it re-assuring that, whilst it is my business, I have the support of the network and head office when I need it.
"Five years on, I enjoy the flexibility the job gives me. The hours are planned to suit me – which is particularly important when working in London."
Maciej now has over 350 sites in and around London and, though he visits all his shops personally, such has been his success that he now relies on the full-time assistance of his mum, who helps with getting the cards ready for the next day’s calls, and his fiancée who helps with the daily paperwork and administration.
"I am excited about continuing to grow my business over the next few years with Plan-it Cards. There are always sales leads to follow up on, either through personal recommendations, group account enquiries or through the website. Retailers respond to ‘only paying for what they sell’. They have no initial cash overlay, an improved cash flow, and no redundant stock to worry about. My next milestone is to grow the business to have 500 sites."