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Exclusive Interview: How an ice cream craving turned into business success!

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An Australian Franchisee Case Study


Sodhani and his wife, Varsha were craving ice-cream. Unable to find a store that was open at this time they thought to look on the internet to see what stores were nearby. To their distress, there were none.

They clicked the ‘Franchise’ button on the Baskin-Robbins website and this was the spark that made their dream a reality.

Once their decision was made to venture into the ice cream industry, they then undertook extensive research into several franchise companies’ and their respective reputations, history, store locations and franchise support system, before deciding to become part of the Baskin-Robbins brand. Six months after joining the group they are both well on their way to achieving their personal goal, of running a successful Baskin-Robbins store in West End, Brisbane. It’s now their personal challenge to make their store the number one Baskin-Robbins franchise store in Australia.

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

Traditionally, franchise opportunities and networks offer a solid brand backing, which assists in kick starting a new business. There are limited risks and usually well-known profitability benchmarks and standards. We chose Baskin-Robbins because it is a very well structured business and they offer a collaborative franchise business model. There is minimal wastage in regards to products and the training and support offered by the Franchise Support Centre is of a very high standard. It is a very exciting business to own and be part of and allows us to leverage our creative side!

What did you do before taking up a franchise?

We did and continue to work in corporate careers. Abhishek works for an Oil & Gas firm and Varsha for a Consulting firm. The store is currently managed by a Store Manager.

How did you raise the finance?

Personal savings and a bank loan helped us raise the finance.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

We were enrolled in the Baskin-Robbins Franchise partner training program which ran over a three week period and this training was invaluable. We learnt about store profitability, order/stock control management, marketing and local store advertising. We also got to explore our creative sides through the cake decoration program, which was just over a week long. We also receive ongoing support from our Business Development Manager.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?

At present our corporate careers take most of our working hours and the store is managed by our dedicated Store Manager. However, a typical day for us when we are working in the store includes developing relationships with our guests and our team members. We work behind the ice-cream counter and actually serve ice-cream, we both love the guest interaction and watching the happiness the guests experience when they eat our ice-cream. One of our key focus areas is to create a fun environment for not only our guests, but also our team members.

What challenges have you faced?

Some of the key challenges we have faced as first-time franchise owners include drawing up staff rosters, understanding and managing a store budget as well as driving sales. Working as an employee is quite different from running and owning your own business – there is a lot more you are accountable for, but these are all opportunities that we have embraced learning about. Both of us have really grown and learnt so much over the last six months.

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

Yes for sure, we have both grown so much and become far more confident in ourselves and our abilities, we have realised a dream we have both had for a while, and certainly this changes your life. Having our own business has allowed us both to not become as dependent on our corporate jobs as a source of income and we now own and have an alternate solution for making money and it is an exciting project to fall back on. We have also developed our business acumen, furthermore we are also building a little nest egg and look forward to additional funds for our retirement.

What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?

The four main promotional tools we use to grow our franchise include Cloud4wi, Bus Shelter Advertising – AdShell, in-store marketing through our team members as well as Daily IQ from Commbank.

What differentiates your franchise from the competition?

The Baskin-Robbins West End store is one of the biggest stores in Queensland and is also one of the stores to feature a fresh new innovative store design.We have a very high staff retention rate and this positively impacts our guest service experience and we see a large portion of our guest visiting our store again. As the Baskin-Robbins brand was brought to the Australian market in 1989, there is tremendous history behind the brand. We have a wonderful and unique product offering with our 31 flavours of ice cream and is definitely differentiated in the market place. The brand awareness is also very high.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

We strongly believe that being positive and passionate about your business and more so, the brand, will lead to a successful franchise store. Setting achievable goals and objectives and focusing on a return on your investment makes a successful franchise partner, also understanding your financials and how you can impact or change profitability through guest purchasing, staffing, product purchasing etc. is fundamental to your success. Finally, we believe a high level of focus needs to be placed on store operations and this also drives a successful franchise.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?

Research options and focus on a strong brand, stay positive and start building funds at least six months in advance. Return-on-investment analysis is vital and always remember you can only be as strong as your team, therefore your team members are the biggest asset you have.

What are your plans for the future?

Our team has a strong focus on goals to make Baskin-Robbins West End achieve;
1. Number one performing Baskin-Robbins store in Australia
2. $1 million sales by December 20163. To open a second Baskin-Robbins store

Would you do it again?

Yes we would certainly do it all again, this has been an amazing journey so far and it is only the beginning. We endeavor to look into more opportunities in the future, for us it is not about ‘I can’t do it’; it’s about ‘How can we do it?’

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