There is definitely more awareness and growth in the niche market of second hand or used products. The new-age customers prefer to buy or invest in brands that are environmentally and socially conscious. And by reusing, we reduce the amount of waste we dump back into the world. Further, it is also a profitable and unique franchise option. “Used Products” is a Dutch franchise that was born with the vision to tackle the challenges of the used market. Used Products franchise aims for a better world by selling products that were almost equivalent to buying them brand new with a warranty. In this interview, CEO Bas Hofte of Used Products, shares with us how he created a successful franchise brand by doing what he loves.
I kind of grew into it, to be honest. I was working in one of our shops when I was around 16 y/o, just as a job when I was still studying in school. The shop is by the owner of the whole franchise; back then we only had few shops.
Then I studied Commercial Economics at the University of Amsterdam, and I had to take an internship. I did the internship with the owner of the franchise – that’s how we got connected. Then after my study, he offered me a job and that kind of grew into that.
Since the end of 2011, we do it together, we’re both co-owners of the business, so that’s how it grew in franchise literally. Back then we had just 15 shops and by now it’s almost 60, so it’s going great!
My business partner back in 1997 came up with the idea. He saw that the second-hand market was existing but was very small in The Netherlands, and he had some sort of vision that it could have been a lot bigger than it was.
Here in The Netherlands, there was a pretty bad image of second-hand products. The products that were sold in the second-hand market were often not really nice or not very good, and he wanted to change that. He wanted to make nice shops with good products, affordable for everybody – that’s how the idea grew with him.
He opened his first shop and it turned out to be a great success, from then on it grew further.
As I said, it was from 1997, and back then it was literally just a good description of what we did. He was going to sell second-hand products, so “Used Products” was a good description of what we did, and that’s how we came up with the brand name.
We have an English name though we are a Dutch company. But we wanted to do something with being Dutch as well. That is why our brand design and the brand logo is orange, which the Dutch love because our football team plays in orange. The Used Products logo with black and orange was created back then to instill the feeling of Dutch culture as well.
What we always want to achieve with our shops is that we have very nice products that are second hand. When people visit our shops they don’t see that they are in a second-hand shop because they have the feeling that it is just a normal shop. Often people ask, are these products new? or are they second-hand? And that’s the goal that we try to achieve which is very different from our competitors. And most of our competitors you can clearly see that they are second-hand shop and that they are second-hand products.
We try to distance ourselves from there and try to have a normal shop looking as normal and nice as possible. But when you see the price you realise that it is a second-hand shop and it is not new. That is how we stand out from the competition. Moreover, we also give a warranty on some of our products. The idea is why pay more when you can pay less with the same amount of warranty? Most importantly reusing is very good for the environment.
For us, the most important part is to be strong commercially. What we need in a franchisee is someone who has a commercial mind and eloquent. He needs to be a salesman to be able to make good deals because we buy and sell in our stores. He must be a good negotiator, have excellent people skills. Because we have a wide range of products a lot of different kind of people enter our shops. So it is important to be good with everybody that comes into our store to be able to make a deal with them.
Definitely depends on the quality of the entrepreneur. But on average I would say between 1 to 3 years.
I think I am in the middle of it with the Corona crisis. The entire year has been very challenging and we will definitely come out stronger than we went in. In addition to the physical shop, we also have an online presence through our website. And we realise that if we have the combination of the physical shop and online that has helped us achieve our goals better by investing in it. The biggest challenge has been this year. And if we look back at the numbers we are proud and happy with the results that we have achieved.
I would say, when I started the franchise I was just 26 years. It was a big gamble for me and it turned out to be a great success. Where we are right now and what we have created especially in The Netherlands but also abroad, makes me feel proud with our achievement. With our whole formula we have expanded into a respectable organisation. We now have shops in Belgium, Germany and Romania.
Every morning I meet with my business partner to discuss the work from the previous day and the agenda for the day. We then proceed in completing our daily tasks and performing our day-to-day roles.
When we opened our first shop in Romania at Cluj-Napoca, which is a student city in Romania. That was the first time we stepped out of The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, culture-wise and language-wise. That is a completely different economic system, but it turned out great. There was a line waiting and it was an immediate and huge success for the franchise. Just to see a big line of people waiting for our shop in a different country like Romania is very rewarding.
Expanding! We have set a very good base now in The Netherlands. We grew to more than 50 shops here and we are really ready to look at expanding our footprint abroad as well. In 5 years we hope to be as big as we are in The Netherlands, also in Germany, Belgium and outside of Europe as well. In 5 years we are working on opening shops successfully in 5 or 6 more new countries.
Do what you like. It is the biggest cliche, but it is true. Do something that is close to you and fits you. Franchisees of us as well, some of them put so much love in what they do. And it is the ones that have them that are the most successful as well. Try to find something that suits you as a person and then success will come automatically.
Want to more about Used Products franchise? Check out their franchise brochure here >>
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