Australian Franchise News – 19-08-14
10 YEARS OF HARD WORK and commitment have been officially commended after local business owners Ann and Graham Thatcher received the accolade of being named one of Queensland’s best franchise operators.
The couple who own five Ella Baché beauty salons including two in Brisbane’s CBD, two in Westfield Carindale and one in Capalaba Park Shopping Centre, were named Queensland ‘Multi-unit Franchisees of the Year’ by the Franchise Council of Australia.
The pair, who gave up corporate careers to realise their dream of business ownership, said they were immensely proud to be recognised for their achievements.
“Ann and I were overwhelmed by the win, especially being up against so many other great business operators,” Graham said.
“We have been fortunate enough to win a number of awards within the Ella Baché network but to win against the wider franchise business community confirms we are on the right track and validates all the effort we have put into operating our business.”
The Thatchers, who employ over 40 local people, have enjoyed strong growth in their business enjoying an average 12 percent increase each year.
Ann, who had always been an Ella Baché customer, said she initially started the business as her career change move but it soon grew and became something the couple could build a future on.
“I had always wanted to start my own business and I did a lot of research before deciding on a beauty franchise,” she said. “The idea originally dawned on me after I recognised there was no therapy based salon catering to the corporate market with suitable before and after work sessions,” she said.
“Once I had decided the type of business I wanted the search was on for the right brand. I was very familiar with Ella Baché and loved the products and after looking into the opportunities with them I felt it was the right choice.
“I loved that the brand was so established, it had already been around 50 years when we started, and I really liked the idea of being part of a family business that was still managed by family members.
“The fact we did not have to be a therapist to run the business was another benefit but we certainly had to work hard to understand and learn about the nuances of the beauty industry. This has led us to purposefully surround ourselves with experienced and talented therapists and salon managers.
The Thatchers said the continual support they received from the franchise gave them the confidence to take risks early.
“After just 12 months of running our first salon an opportunity came up in Westfield Carindale and we realised the potential of the location immediately so we jumped at the chance even though we were still fairly new business owners,” Ann said.
During this time Graham remained in his corporate job but assisted with the financial administration of the business behind the scenes. When the opportunity came to open a third location in 2007 Graham quit to join the business.
“After our third salon we realised this was something we could really grow to secure our future,” he said. “After 10 years we have reached a level we are satisfied with and our focus now is on growing those salon customer bases and creating an asset that will benefit us when we come to retire one day.”
The Thatchers success is attributable to being able to maintain strong growth in relatively challenging economic and retail times.
“We have had strong year-on-year growth for the past five years even though the overall retail industry was hit pretty hard. We have never stopped marketing and we have invested heavily in training to maintain an impeccable standard and experience in our salons.
“We have grown to a level where we have our own internal trainer to ensure our staff from the managers to therapists, have the right skills for the job and to provide the highest level of customer service.
“Running our own business has certainly presented us with some challenges over the past decade but it has also been very rewarding. We have structured the business and utilised technology in a way that enables us to operate remotely while being able to undertake travel different times of the year. . Its hard work but we enjoy it and we are in control of the level of lifestyle balance and financial security we want to achieve.”
The Thatchers will now compete at a national level in October to be awarded the title of Australia’s Multi-unit Franchisee of the Year.