5 Business Lessons From Sorbet’s Ian Fuhr

5 Business Lessons From Sorbet’s Ian Fuhr

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How has Ian Fuhr managed to turn the struggling Sorbet brand into a mega-franchise that has never seen a single store closure?
Sorbet-franchisor-Ian-Fuhr

1. Have a clear culture that you’re promoting

Sorbet has identified the type of person that excels in the company’s culture, as well as people who do not, giving clear personas for employees to embrace (and avoid). The ‘I’ specialist is only interested in what she will get out of each client and appointment, and does not care about the brand or greater whole.

“These are not the people we want in the Sorbet community,” says Fuhr. “They don’t care about guest needs and wants, and see only walking commissions.”

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On the other end of the scale are the Citizens of Sorbet. Individuals who never-the-less put the brand and guests first, and are rewarded as a result, both in remuneration and personal fulfilment.

2. Price for clients, staff and the company to get maximum benefit

“This is always a delicate balance. We’ve found that you want to be competitive in pricing, but still expensive enough to be viewed as a premium brand, and offer excellent service. Because employees earn commissions, the treatments need to incentivise them to offer guests the best experience possible. We’ve found that our customers will happily pay if they walk away feeling pampered and beautiful, because they’re not just spending money on a result, but an overall experience.”

To incentivise this even further, Sorbet guests do not have to pay if they are unhappy with their treatment.

“New franchisees are often scared of this clause, because they think guests will take advantage of them. In fact, the opposite is true. Guests very rarely demand a free treatment, and our staff are always focused on offering the best.”

3. Build a credible, respected brand, and success will follow

Sorbet-franchise-logo

Over and above a successful franchising model and hundreds of thousands of customers, Sorbet has also attracted the interest of other brands.

“Clicks approached us to join its Affinity Club Card partnership, where double points can be earned at a Sorbet for Club Card members. Each month they advertise us to their four-million strong data-base. Next, they wanted to develop a Sorbet product range with us. There’s a tipping point of growth that has worked so well for us. If you get the foundations right and build credibility within the brand, you’ll gain momentum and growth will skyrocket.”

4. Don’t lose sight of your competition

There’s a delicate balance between differentiating yourself and not becoming a ‘me too’ brand, and being aware of what your competitors are doing.

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“Never become so arrogant that you don’t pay attention to your competitors. Learn and improve continuously. Don’t take anything for granted, but also make sure all decisions are to add meaningfully to the business, and aren’t just for the sake of being different.”

5. Look at everything with fresh eyes

“My entrepreneurial journey has been rich and varied. Each time I enter a new industry, I try to look at it with fresh eyes. I bring the lessons from where I’ve come, and sometimes that perspective is very useful, like my approach to Sorbet via a retail model, and everything I’d learnt about staff, people and customers. But don’t be contaminated by conventional wisdom of that industry — ie, ‘this is the way we do things.’

Feb 29, 2016
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.