Exclusive Interview: Joe and Michelle, Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar

An Australian Franchisee Case Study

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Name: Joe and Michelle Rechichi
Location: Mount Lawley, Perth, WA
Franchise: Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar
Date launched the franchise: 23 January 2012

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying a franchise business?

Both Michelle and I studied a Bachelor of Commerce. I specialised in Marketing and Hospitality, while Michelle specialised in Marketing and Management.

Prior to joining the Crust franchise, I was working for Carpet Court, a family business, and Michelle was working in a corporate marketing role for Peet Limited, a leading land developer in Western Australia.

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?

We explored a number of franchise opportunities, however, because we are based in Perth, we had the advantage of witnessing the Crust brand evolve on the East Coast, so were confident it would be a success in the Perth market.

We also spoke to a number of franchise partners in the wider region who had nothing but positive things to say about their experience. Off the back of this, we decided to take the plunge and haven’t looked back since!

How did you raise the finance?

We were able to finance the investment using collateral from our existing assets. The strength of the Crust brand also meant that we were entitled to a variety of benefits with some of the leading lenders.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

We spent two weeks in Sydney where we learnt from one of Crust’s top franchise partners, Jim from Crust Pyrmont. We also had a support team from Crust Subiaco work with us during our first few weeks of operation.

Michelle and I continue to develop our food knowledge, and while we’re not experts, we’re lucky to be part of a franchise that provides ongoing training and support, allowing us to provide customers with a consistently high standard of product.

Now, five years on and one of the first Crust stores to open in Western Australia, we are proud to be a part of Crust’s national franchise partner board. As part of this group, we have been given the opportunity to provide practical feedback to help shape the future direction of the brand.

 

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?

Michelle and I each have different skill sets, so we try to work to our strengths. I manage the day-to-day operations and finance, while Michelle drives the store’s marketing strategy.

Michelle’s day sees her developing marketing strategies, scheduling social media content, attending sponsored events, developing new relationships with local businesses, throwing events for our staff, mentoring her marketing interns and often working in-store.

My days aren’t so glamorous; I’m very hands on and spend a lot of time in-store to ensure that we are delivering quality product and service to our customers. My tasks can range from team training to preparing ingredients for the night’s trade. If I’m not in store, I’m often analysing store data and working with store supervisors to maximise financial and operational performance.

What lessons have you learnt?

• Make sure you delegate to and trust your team.
• Work ethic and attitude are key when recruiting for staff.
• It’s important to have a good work-life balance and to know when to switch off.
• Being adaptive to change allows you to evolve in the market place.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?

It’s no secret that Michelle and I lead an extremely busy lifestyle; so at the beginning of our venture we implemented strategies to assist us in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

It’s not always smooth sailing when taking on your own business; so it’s important to be as prepared as possible for any issues that may pop up along the way. Planning has been crucial for us; it’s allowed us to setup a structure so that the business can operate smoothly when we aren’t there.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?

Do your research and be willing to work within the business. Put in the hours, business success won’t just happen overnight.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

• Committed franchise partners who are passionate about their business.
• Customer-focussed franchise partners who are dedicated to continually improving systems to deliver high customer service standards.
• Franchise partners who create a fun environment for their team allowing staff to enjoy their role and deliver on the business promise and product accordingly.

What are your plans for the future?

The business has been a resounding success over the last five years and we’re committed to developing it even further. Once we’ve reached our end goal, anything is possible!

Would you do it again?

Absolutely!

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