When I became a franchisee I was sure that the life I was getting into was one of flexibility. One that paid the equivalent of my weekly wage whilst I was free to spend my days being a mother, wife and enjoying a life that did not have the 9 – 5 grind attached. I had invested a lot of money into a proven system so then all I had to do really was do the rosters, pay the wages and bank the money. Wasn’t it?
Sure when I started I had to spend time in store learning the systems and processes and besides the franchise agreement said that I had to, but after that surely my life would be one of freedoms wouldn’t it?
The reality though was something different. I found there were three really good reasons why you should spend some time in-store.
1. Get to know your customers
Getting to know your customers is without doubt one of the best ways to increase sales. Having a chat whilst serving, allows you to access your target customer directly. Ask questions about your product range, your hours of service, your team members. Even drop into the conversation a question about what they would like to see in your store. Listening to your customers and implementing suggestions builds a loyal customer base. Loyal customers don’t even look at your competition when making a purchasing decision – they come to where they know they can get what they want.
2. Get to know your team
On the outside your team always appear cheery and happy and because you are the boss they are always out to please you. You do, after all, pay their wages. But working with them sometimes shows another dimension. Working just one shift a week identifies if there are personality clashes, problems with operational procedure guides and gaps in your product quality and customer service. Getting to know your employees makes it easier to roster and decide who should be on the leadership team. It allows you to have those casual in-store conversations that identify system glitches that need to be fixed. The true cleanliness of the store cannot be hidden from you when you work in-store. Identifying training needs is much easier when you have done a couple of shifts in store. The added benefit of getting to know your team is that they will feel more comfortable to approach you with a problem when something is not right.
3. Control your Cost of Goods
Working in-store gives you the opportunity to see first hand product control and therefore wastage. It is very easy to hide wastage from an owner who is never in-store. Sure you have your team ticking off the invoices and checking deliveries, yes you may even have a wastage book or process implemented in-store but do you ever check that this process is being followed. It is very easy to hide wastage.
Now I am not saying that you should work everyday in-store and burn yourself out. I am the first person to advocate that every franchise owner should have defined days off. However, what I am saying is that there is a good case for the franchisee to do at least one shift a week in-store. Be strategic in the shift you choose. Work on a shift where there are newbies, or when you know there will be a sales rush; if for no other reason than to see how well your store operates in times of stress.
Avoid being a seagull, someone that comes in poops on everything and leaves. That is no way to earn the respect of your team, your customers or your franchisor.
Elizabeth Gillam founder and CEO of Franchisee Success creates High Performance Franchisees. Having owned and operated three franchised food businesses; Boost, Healthy Habits and Bucking Bull; she knows what it takes to operate a profitable food franchise. In her recent book, Upsize your PROFIT – 6 steps to running a profitable food franchise she outlines how franchisees can ACE their franchised business unit.