5 May 2016

What I know now: How to make your first 6 months as a franchisee a success

Starting out in any new job can be a challenging and daunting experience, but when it comes to running your own business, unexpected challenges become the norm. Franchising can take much of the risk out of starting a business; however preparation is still vital to make sure your new venture is a success, especially in that critical first six months.

Jennifer and Robert Stewart, of Bedshed Bundall, have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to starting up a new franchise. Having moved from Melbourne to the Gold Coast to open their new store in August last year, Jennifer and Robert are making their store a success.

Here, Jennifer shares her seven top tips for making your first six months as a franchisee run smoothly:

Invest in your staff

Customer service in our industry is everything. Having quality, reliable staff is always going to be crucial in the successful operation of a franchise store, so find the right people for the job and invest in quality training.

We are lucky in that all four of our children (plus some of their partners) work with us, and we make sure to play to their strengths and undertake regular training to perfect our skills. 

Get to know your local area

Never underestimate the power of local knowledge for business success. If you’re new to an area, take the time to do your homework. What is the local housing like? Is it suburban houses, or high rise apartment blocks? This will help to inform your buying decisions and avoid purchasing stock that will never sell.

Have an excellent bookkeeper

I really can’t stress this point enough – it’s so important to understand the cash flow in your business right from the beginning! If you don’t have this finance experience, bring in someone who does from the get go.

Read the fine print

If you are going to take out a loan to help start your franchise, do your research on what will be required to secure the loan, and roughly how long it will take to pay off. Make sure you use a bank you trust to support you through the process or explore vendor finance options with your chosen franchise.

Be clear on the decision making process

Find ways to engage great staff in the decision making process – after all, they are dealing with customers every day and have good insight into what’s working. In our business, we hold a business meeting over dinner once a month, but decide what works for you.

Initiate a healthy relationship with your suppliers

Our industry is changing all the time, and no one knows this better than bedding reps. Take them up on the training they offer – it will be worthwhile!

Remember – your local retail manager is there to help

While the initial stages of opening your franchise can be overwhelming, remember your local retail manager and franchising team will know the drill.  They are able to provide you with guidance and support which will really help you through those first 6 months. Reach out to them as much as you need, and ask as many questions as possible, particularly in the early stages!