A Snack-in-the-Box Women in Franchising Special

“This business is ideal for women – I'm surprised there aren't more of us doing it” - Debbie Shrimpton

Working in a call centre for two years had left Cleveland based Debbie Shrimpton frustrated and fed up at being tied to long and rigid hours. Before that she'd been a line-manager at a KP factory where, despite the stringent working conditions, she got a valuable insight into the snack food industry. She says: “I've gone from manufacturing snacks to selling snacks for a living, and I know which one I prefer! Snack-in-the-Box (SITB) is a people business, and that was what attracted me to the franchise in the first place. I love meeting my customers, spending time chatting with them and knowing they appreciate seeing me every week. After all, I am bringing them something they want – those snacks and little treats that keep their employees happy!”

Snack-in-the-Box franchisees deliver top branded confectionary and savoury snacks directly to the workplace. Debbie Shrimpton bought a 'Self Service Box' franchise, which relies on its customers leaving money in the box in exchange for the snacks they take away.

“This is such a simple idea,” says Debbie. “It's a cash business, and the franchise model is so easy to understand. Everyone needs a little refuelling during their working day, and we make sure there's always something there. All we ask in return is they leave the correct amount of money in the box. That's the honesty box policy, and it works. And let's face it, Mars wouldn't put their name to something that doesn't work either!”

Franchising since 1996, SITB now has more than 100 franchisees serving over 16,000 customers each week. Its franchise network boasts a number of women franchisees including, among others, twin sisters, and a mother and daughter team.

Interestingly, when Debbie first took on her franchise, she turned to a female family member to help her to run the business. “Initially I went into partnership with my sister-in-law,” she says. “She could only work part-time and wanted to fit something in between looking after her two young children. We were able to run a full-time business by working three days a week each – and made £30,000 a year between us. Once my sister-in-law's children had grown up, she decided to go back into full-time employment, and by then I was ready to take on the business by myself. SITB was perfect for someone in her situation, as it gave her the flexibility she needed to look after her family, and the opportunity to have a share in her own business.”

She adds: “Now that I'm a grandmother, it's great to be able to help look after my granddaughter wherever and whenever I'm needed. Unlike most employees, I don't need to ask for a day off. Nor do I need to fill in forms just to take some time to help out my daughter. In fact, I don't need to justify my family commitments to anyone. SITB is a great business for those that have a life outside of work, and who genuinely enjoy getting out and meeting people. This franchise is ideal for women. I'm surprised there aren't more of us doing it.”