SA Franchise Brands welcomes Tony Marchesini, CEO and Franchisor of H2O International to
share some insights into the world of a Franchisor.
With over seventy franchises and growing, what would you ascribe the past 18 years of sustained success to?
At H2O International we have a hands on management approach in all aspects of the business so that we know what the franchisees are experiencing. Over time we have developed a strong branding which has created sufficient value to allow franchisees to maintain their margins. The customer’s perceived value of fantastic service and support has converted them into loyal customers. We have also, over time, created various new and very lucrative income streams for our franchisees.
How has franchising worked in favour of H2O International?
Franchising has enabled H2O International to expand its footprint in Southern Africa and neighbouring countries to well over seventy outlets. This has been achieved by the high quality of franchisees that lead their sales force and provide excellent technical expertise to the customer. We have a motto that says, ‘Customer For Life” and to achieve this we first need to identify the customer’s water problems and establish their requirements before we provide the best solution in the most cost effective way to satisfy the customer.
How would you describe the overall relationship between H2O International and its franchisees?
We are in constant contact with our franchisees and have an excellent relationship with them. Two way communications is encouraged by inviting franchisees to provide us with any feedback. We support them wherever we can. We have stable franchisees that love the brand and most are very happy, positive and enjoying seeing their businesses grow year on year.
What challenges does H2O International face at present and in the future?
The exchange rate is always a challenge as we do a lot of imports from China, USA, Korea and Italy. This negatively impacts on the landed cost of our products and therefore we have to watch our margins very carefully. Fortunately we have a stable and popular brand with systems that work and have come out on top, whatever challenges we have faced in the past.
What expansion plans do you have for H2O International?
In South Africa there are still a number of areas where there is opportunity to set up franchises to expand our footprint in this country. There is huge opportunity to expand into the rest of Africa as well as you must remember that we don’t just provide clean water but rather purified water. Expansion into the rest of Africa will be done through master distributors.
We are aware that H2O International has started its own charity organisation called Wishing Well International Foundation. Please tell us more about it.
Yes, this is an initiative to bring clean water to the poor who do not have access to tap water and have to rely on water from rivers, boreholes that may be contaminated. We are using our knowledge and extensive distribution network to deploy the Biosand Filters into areas in Southern Africa that are in dire need of water that is safe to drink and that will not cause illness.This is a non profit organisation and all our franchisees participate by making a contribution of their profits to the Foundation.