WelcomeFamily, a company that improves the welcoming of families

Interview with Frédéric Martz, co-founder of Welcome Family, who tells us about his career and the development of WelcomeFamily.

How did the idea of ​​starting your business come about?

At the time, I was a sales agent and in solitude. Fortunately, I had followed training that had restored my self-esteem. At the same time, I had friends who traveled the world and we chatted. They told me, “It’s amazing, how different the reception of families and children abroad is and in general in Central America, South America, the United States, Australia” because this trip around the world, they did that with their children. They wrote to me: “Something should be done. There’s something to do. I don’t understand that in France, now, there is this feeling of embarrassment when you come with your children to a restaurant”. It must be said that abroad, there is always attention to them, whether for coloring or for a toy. This existed at the time at McDonald’s, but was not common in France. This echoed a trip I took with my young son to see my sister (who lives in the US) where the waitresses were particularly cheerful and naturally brought us a baby chair. At that time I replied to my friend “Listen, I’m into promotional items, yes, it’s true that it might be a good idea to color, but you shouldn’t do a one shot (one shot, editor’s note) and you have to make a global offer, a family package to accommodate children ”. I was afraid that doing just crayons or coloring game place, as a promotional item maker, we would just make one sale and that would end there. That’s how I came up with the idea of ​​creating a brand that offered a global offer.

What happened next ?

I wanted my friend to join me, but he didn’t want to join the WelcomeFamily project, because he didn’t want to do any commercials. We already had experience together and we already set up a start-up in 2000. I tried to convince him, but he didn’t want to make sales because that blocked him. So I insisted on telling him: “You know, at some point, we’re going to have to take our pilgrim’s staff and knock on restaurant doors to offer them our service and our products.”. I didn’t want a partner if he didn’t make sales, so I tried a little and finally he made his way to his side. Now he’s installed a scan box that works great, but it’s really another niche. Eventually I convinced two other friends to join me and that was the trigger for creating the company that developed WelcomeFamily. Because the parent company is called Marketing Creation.

So you immediately created a global concept?

In fact, we started from the advertising object that was our first “business unit”. Basically, I started as an agent for promotional items and POS packaging. In short, I was doing communication and, finally, it is thanks to this activity that we were able to finance the development of Welcome Family. Marketing Creation was the means that took me from agent to company and I exchanged an existing turnover of clients who knew me. In the end, when I think about it, we developed a little bit, as they say, in garage mode. We finance our coloring kits, our baby seats that we rebuild, redesign and gradually build an offer.

How was the transition?

In the first year we made €100,000, while in the second year we were already at €500,000, which means that the transition was quickly achieved. In fact, the children’s advertising business is still doing pretty well and at the time we were at 50/50. I’d say the change was made in the third year since Welcome Family went beyond advertising in a way.

What have been the company’s main milestones so far?

There was that first big step, that is, structuring and starting the business. The second big step was to formalize the association. Formalization was a subject that I defended with my partners even though I had created the company. At a certain point, I wanted to put on paper in a concrete and real way the actions of each one in relation to the investment, the contributions of each one. Not necessarily just the financial aspects. This is, for me, a key to success because it effectively allows us to not get out of the “pat each other on the shoulder, do something together”.
The next step was to sign up for McDonalds, which I had researched. This sale remains one of my best memories because it starts with a phone call with no network, with nothing, and telling me: “Why not probe the biggest one from the start? ». The funny thing is that we didn’t have a project at the beginning and we thought: “Here, it looks like they need a baby seat.” What can we do as an original baby chair for them? ». And then, we combined the two crafts, that is, advertising objects and WelcomeFamily. We started with the company logo to create a baby chair. And since 2014, we have continued to work for McDo France, but also for the world. It represents a significant part of our turnover even if we are not dependent on it.
Finally, the main stages are perhaps mainly linked to business meetings, which allowed us to develop. The next one was in 2017, when we started working with Accor, which was an opening in the hotel sector because we had very little presence in this market and, the funny thing, we started working together also for Club Med. 2019 looked like our boom year, all things considered, where we felt WelcomeFamily was known and recognized as a key player, but we ran into covid.

How did you overcome the cessation of activity?

So we had to reorient our promotional items business. Fortunately, we were a somewhat multiform company and we kept that DNA, that ability to produce for someone, for a brand, because otherwise it would be more complicated. Then we turned our focus to agri-food and worked mainly for Panzani to make children’s advertising objects. To continue the development, we launched the plushcreation.com website because we were convinced that there was potential in the mascot and in that need, perhaps a little gentle in this somewhat troubled time. This third branch has become quite important for us because we have several orders a day.

Why is this branch important to you?

What interests us about Peluche Création is that we have a lot of requests from charities. And that, for us, is very important because we like to help them. We don’t help everyone, of course, but we systematically help charities by giving them a discount or writing a check when they place an order. It’s not 100% sponsorship, but anyway it leads us to have a lot of associations, especially small football clubs. Finally, I realize that if we didn’t have covid, we would have stayed in a Welcome Family development that until then had taken the lead.

What will be your future areas of development?

There is already what we had to stop during Covid and, in particular, our development in Spain through a VIE. After two years, we managed to reach networks that don’t exist in France, such as Taco Bell, which is well known to anyone who has been to the United States, much less to France. We created an official and lasting office in Spain and we did the same in Italy. Now we are working to really develop exports and we are trying to create small Welcome Families in countries to re-develop local sourcing and print, for example, at local printers. This will require us to recreate an ecosystem in each country, which can take time.

What was the biggest difficulty you encountered?

It was at the beginning of our activity. I think so, I like to laugh about it. In the first year, we made 100,000 euros, and I have a customer who called me because the customs had blocked the goods for counterfeiting on a watch we produced. I had designed the clock completely, but a clock often looks like a clock. Result 35,000 euros of goods were destroyed and I had to refund the customer. Today I laugh about it because she is still a customer of ours, but this episode was certainly one of the biggest difficulties. I even called in a coach to mentally overcome this concern.

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