An Australian Franchisee Case Study
How did you become a franchisee at 27 years of age?
After I completed my university studies, I started my career in the hotel industry. It was very demanding work that provided excellent training in systems and customer service, which is the cornerstone of my Trios business.
For over six years I worked in a number of hotels, including the Westin, Rydges and the award winning franchise group, Quest. I always envied people that owned their own business and at the age of 24, I set myself a three-year goal to have my own business.
Over the next three years, I did extensive research into different types of businesses. At 27 I purchased my Trios franchised business and have been running it for three years.
How does your day begin?
I start work at 7.30am, preparing for the lunch rush. Our staff come in progressively and attend to their respective checklists. Apart from the food preparation, there are also displays to be set up, menu boards updated, occasional ordering and before you know it, it’s lunch time. That the best part of my day – I love the interaction of dealing face to face with customers.
What is the lunch rush like?
The crucial three hours are from 11.30am to 2.30pm. During that time we go flat out serving customers. It’s not just my staff – I’m also involved in serving and constantly watching out for our four team members and all our customers. It is critical that customers are not left waiting too long, because we may not get them back the next day.
And after the lunch rush?
We continue to serve customers, although the pace eases off. After lunch we follow various checklists that revolve around cleaning, ordering, food safety checks and preparing for the next day.
How do you plan your week?
I know what to expect most days. I can largely predict customer flows by tracking my previous year’s takings down to the week, day and hour. I aim to do most of my ordering on Mondays, administration on Tuesdays, marketing on Wednesdays, and more ordering on Thursday. From Friday to Sunday we’re fully occupied with serving customers.
This structure is great in practice, but it’s often thrown out by staff shortages. Also, the new menu introduced at the end of 2007 has increased business by 25 to 30 per cent, and I’ve found it difficult to keep up with my administration and marketing. This means I need to be highly organised, which is why I come in early. If I am disorganised, my staff will probably be the same.
How much marketing do you do?
Ideally, I dedicate most of my Wednesdays to marketing. I walk the local streets, dropping off special offer pamphlets and customer loyalty cards. I focus on specific streets each Wednesday and track where the customers are drawn from. Not only are certain streets better than others, but certain sides of a street can be more rewarding. The franchisor provides us with the local marketing initiatives and tools. Using these, I can gather up information about the local area to help me target my marketing efforts.
How many hours a week do you typically work?
My working week varies from five to seven days, depending on staff availability. As I said earlier, I start at 7.30am so that I can ensure there is adequate preparation for the busy day ahead and leave between 5 and 6pm. My typical working week varies between 50 to 60 hours.
Which parts of the business do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy running my own business and welcome the challenges thrown at me every day. The work can be hard and the hours long, but it does give me rewards and a comfortable lifestyle. Above all, I still get a buzz out of the business and feel really satisfied serving good healthy food to my customers.
And the less enjoyable aspects of the business?
My single biggest challenge, like everybody else in this retail environment, is finding the right staff that fit our culture. In today’s world the younger generation think they know it all and for me I keep a positive attitude and allow them to feel like it’s their own business.
I find this keeps them motivated and it promotes a fun, energetic team spirit. After all, they are the ones that serve customers all day ever day!
Where do you turn for guidance and motivation?
I try and deal with most issues myself. I’m a highly motivated and positive person, but if I need guidance, I call the franchisor. I feel that a strong relationship with your franchisor is essential to your success.
The franchisor has enormous experience and knowledge, which I tap into regularly, and they are always willing to listen and support me wherever they can. The franchisor also has specialist resources in marketing, operations, leasing and fit outs.
Ultimately, my drive comes from wanting to be successful and help my parents and family.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start?
Basically, I knew very little about running a business when I started. I quickly realised the importance of quality service, dealing with staff and suppliers. I am committed to learning, and learn something new every day. I believe I will still be learning in 10 years.
What makes a successful Trios franchisee?
I think there are a number of factors that contribute to being a success as a Trios franchisee. Firstly, you must be actively involved in the business. And you must be 100% committed. Don’t expect to find a manager to run your business for you as well as you will. You have to be present at times, doing the hard yards and getting your hands dirty when it gets really busy. The franchisee needs to be in tune with all aspects of the business, especially how to think up ways to increase the average customer spend and how many times I can get that customer to buy every week. We cater for 30 different meal choices and that give us a competitive edge.
Secondly, a strong relationship with the franchisor is paramount, I can’t see how you can remain motivated and committed without having faith in your franchisor.
Thirdly, you must be able to laugh, or else you’ll go crazy. Fourthly, as I said earlier, you have to be willing to learn and keep learning every day.
Finally, you have to absolutely love what you do. You can’t do it just for the money; you must be passionate about your business and especially, believe in the product you are selling to customers.
Any words of wisdom for a new franchisee?
Stay positive, enjoy what you do and the rewards will follow. Choose your franchise business very carefully, because you are investing a lot of money.
Interview by Sergio Alderuccio, Managing Director, Franchise Developments
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