Barry Thurston

Barry ThurstonDirector of Aspray Luton, Barry Thurston, hosted a very successful launch event for the opening of his new business. Attendees included the Mayor of Luton and local businesspeople, with 73 guests in total and the event also supporting two local charities.

Barry said: “Every single person I invited, I met face to face.” In the build-up to the launch of Aspray Luton, Barry attended lots of networking groups and made sure that everyone was aware of the up-and-coming launch event – “I didn’t shut up about it,” he says.

During the networking groups Barry encouraged some healthy competition by challenging everyone in the room to bring along two or three guests. “Cheeky, but it worked!” said Barry. Barry focused largely on the free networking aspect of the launch event, as most networking events normally come at a cost to the attendees.

Barry wanted to create a sense of excitement around the launch of Aspray Luton, and what other way is there to do that than offering free refreshments; each attendee benefited from a champagne reception with a selection of canapés. What more could you want on a Wednesday night after work?

The excitement didn’t stop there. A lady approached Barry at the launch event, asking whether he could deal with an escape of water claim for her mother. This gave Aspray Luton a kick start to business with a £4,000 claim before his launch event had even finished.

Encouraging attendees to show up to your launch event can be time consuming – Barry personally invited 450 people and followed up with an email every 10 days or so to remind them. Barry explained: “The launch event should really engulf your first few weeks with Aspray,” concentrating on getting those “bums on seats”. Of the 90 people who confirmed their attendance, 73 people attended.

Is cold calling an effective method of inviting?

Barry says: “In a word: no. Around the time of my launch event, my wife’s friend had just been made redundant from a telesales role so I asked if I could make use of her skills for a day to ring round possible attendees. She went through a long list of numbers and not one person turned up on the night.

“My advice to prospective and new franchisees is network, network, network!”


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