How four franchisees built a successful cafe business [part two]

By Sarah Stowe | 29 Oct 2015 View comments

In part two of our profile on Shingle Inn's Mt Ommaney franchisees Nicki Nesbitt, Wiesiek Lewandowski and April and Tony Carnie, we take a look at how they operate the cafe on a day-to-day basis, as well as their plans for the future. 

Missed part one? You can view it here.

Nicki and April also discuss the personality traits potential franchisees should possess in order to achieve success in their business. 

A strong work ethic is required

April stresses running a franchise is hard work. “Don’t go into the business of owning a cafe with your eyes closed,” she says

“Be prepared to work long hours, be self-motivated and open to learning.”

Patience, perseverance and organisation are also important in achieving success. “The market won’t come to you and there’s no magic bullet. Build your relationships one by one; one day at a time and a successful business comes from that.

“Be prepared and have a strategic plan but equally be open to accepting change with a positive attitude and look for mentors, either within the franchise or an external supplier,” April explains.

Nicki says its important franchisees have people skills. “They are vital, both from a leadership perspective as well as in the ability to build rapport with your customers and your team and being able to motivate them.”

April adds open-mindedness and a positive attitude are also essential. “There will be a lot of change in your lives if you want to move the business forward and you have to be prepared for that.”

No typical day

As with many franchises, there’s no such thing as an average day at Shingle Inn. “No two days are ever the same,” says April.

She and Nicki devote one day each week to working on the business, and they also spend a large chunk of their time in-store.

“There is always one day of the week that both Nicki and I work away from the business. This is our ‘red’ day where we focus on strategy and improving the business.

“We review and discuss marketing, plan team training and development, review monthly business performance and develop new processes or procedures for our team.”

When they are in the cafe, jobs vary considerably. “Our work is diverse, covering all aspects of operations, including quality assessment, customer service at the counter, talking to customers, preparing meals and training our team.”

Managing the roles

While there are four franchisees involved in the running of the business, each person has a set of clearly defined responsibilities.

The roles are split as follows:

  • Nicki: marketing and business analysis, process and quality management
  • April: finance, MYOB and reporting
  • Wiesiek: maintenance, kitchen management
  • Tony: customer service and he is generally the duty manager each day

“I think we’ve always done a great job of utilising our individual strengths while ensuring we’ve cross-trained in each other’s areas for back-up on sick days, rostered days off or on the infrequent occasion we go on holidays,” says Nicki.

Training and support

Nicki says their area manager was particularly helpful in the early days. “They provided us with support across all areas of our business following our six weeks of training.

“The Shingle Inn system has progressed even further since then with a NESTer (National Establishment Store Team) working in-store to support franchisees for the first two weeks of business operation.”

She adds there’s also ongoing training and support. “There are quarterly Family Forums we attend with all the Shingle Inn franchisees from across the network as well as the Shingle Inn conference.”

Moving forward

Nicki says their primary goal is to be debt free. “We’re always keen to improve our work/life balance too,” she adds.

“Ultimately we’d like to be in a position to provide more input into product and menu development and trialing products for the Shingle Inn network so we’re particularly focused on staying true to the system and providing solutions and constructive feedback when opportunities arise as this is obviously the skill set Shingle Inn will need for the development of this extended role.”

“Our involvement in Shingle Inn’s Platinum Program – as a store that is meeting or exceeding all of the company’s benchmark KPIs – puts us in a great position to be able to achieve this goal in the near future,” Nicki explains.

Has franchising changed their lives for the better? “We could jokingly say that it has meant the loss of holidays, time with family at Christmas and drastically altered our social lives, but while this is true it’s also on the way to giving us financial freedom and has hugely enriched our lives via the people we’ve met and worked with and the friends we’ve made amongst customers and franchisees,” says Nicki.