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Franchisee Advice

Where Your Tyres Meet the Road with Supa Quick

Sharon Tattersall started out working for Bridgestone. Eventually, though, she felt the urge to launch her own business. But what sort of business to start up? The answer was obvious…

Tracy Lee Nicol

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Sharon-Tattersall_Supa-Quick

Vital Stats

  • Company: Supa Quick
  • Franchisee: Sharon Tattersall
  • Branches: Gallo Manor and Craighall Park
  • Visit: supaquick.com

The Road to Supa Quick

Once Sharon Tattersall had matriculated, she wasn’t sure what to do. Quite by coincidence, she ended up interviewing for a position at Bridgestone. She got the job and started working as an internal sales clerk.

Bridgestone turned out to be a great fit, and she ended up spending about a decade at the company. She moved on to warehousing, logistics, and eventually started working as an external sales person.

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But, by the early 2000s, she felt the itch to strike out on her own. She wanted her own business. Almost immediately, the idea of opening up a Supa Quick came to her. Supa Quick is a subsidiary of Bridgestone, so Tattersall had the experience needed to tackle the business. Supa Quick touted itself as a tyre expert, and Tattersall knew tyres.

Sitting at the Wheel

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In 2006, Tattersall started as owner/operator of Supa Quick Sandown. It was, well, a bit of an adjustment. She might have had loads of industry experience, but corporate life hadn’t completely prepared her for all the other aspects of owning and operating one’s own business.

“I knew about tyres, but Supa Quick stocks a lot of other items that I didn’t know at all. I had to learn about shocks, brakes and exhausts very quickly. It was a steep learning curve,” she says.

That said, getting to know the products wasn’t the toughest challenge. The biggest adjustment was suddenly being responsible for every aspect of a business.

“When thinking of opening a business, you have to remember that you will ultimately be responsible for every aspect of that operation. You will have to manage the business’s finances and staff, keep an eye on stock levels and deal with customers. There’s tons of admin to deal with, especially in the early days of a business.

“You need to accept the fact that you’ll be spending a lot of time at the business — you’ll be eating, sleeping and breathing the business. Prepare yourself for 16-hour days,” she laughs.

Steering in the Dark

Tattersall’s situation, however, was particularly tricky. As Murphy’s Law demands, load-shedding was implemented shortly after she started operating her first Supa Quick franchise.

“We needed to buy a generator, which was obviously a sizeable investment. But there was nothing that could be done about it. We had to be able to trade even when the electricity was switched off.”

The experience taught her a valuable lesson: “I think a lot of new business owners underestimate the amount of operating capital they’ll need. This is especially true in a business such as this. You need to have cash available for an emergency, and you need to carry a sizeable amount of stock. Modern cars run on lots of different tyres, and you need to carry the different sizes and types. If you don’t have a particular tyre in stock, you’ll lose a sale to a business down the road.”

A good co-driver

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Despite those inevitable initial hiccups, Tattersall found her groove and has been operating a Supa Quick ever since. When the property in Sandown was sold, she closed that operation down, and opened a Supa Quick in Gallo Manor, which has been going since 2011. In June 2015 she also opened up a Supa Quick in Craighall Park.

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“The operation in Gallo Manor is well established and I now have a manager who oversees the operation, so I’m spending most of my time at the new franchise.”

And what is it like opening up a second store?

“It’s keeping me busy, but it’s been a positive experience. As a franchisor, Supa Quick is very supportive. It offers new staff members at franchises excellent technical training, and also negotiates with suppliers on our behalf. This means that we can obtain stock at a very competitive price.”

About Supa Quick

  • Supa Quick has been in existence for more than 28 years.
  • The brand has the largest footprint of any fitment channel in Southern Africa.
  • Franchisees boasted a combined turnover of more than R2,1 billion in 2014.
  • Of the original 24 founding franchisee family members that signed up in 1986, 20 are still involved today.
  • Supa Quick has collective franchisee owner experience of 2 636 years
  • With 238 outlets currently operating, the brand appears set to have 288 stores open by 2020.

Advice for Rookies

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Having been a successful Supa Quick franchisee for almost a decade now, what advice does Tattersall have for prospective franchisees?

“I would recommend spending as much time as possible at an existing franchise. If you can spend a whole month there, do it. Not only will you see what owning a Supa Quick entails, but you’ll also gain useful insight into operating a successful business.

“I also recommend surrounding yourself with the right people. You don’t necessarily need substantial industry knowledge, but you need to ensure that you hire the right people. Quite often, you’ll find that your success is in their hands.”

Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.

Franchisee Advice

6 Questions Before You Discount

Try this checklist so that discounting doesn’t give you nightmares.

Richard Mukheibir

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discounting

For some retailers, discounting is a way of life. Most, though, begrudge the thought of discounting – and I completely identify with that.

It was not until last year that we ran our first company-wide discounting, our “Spring Clean” campaign. It took Trevor Locker, our Chief Operating Officer, to convince me that there are times when discounting makes great business sense – just as there are times when it could spell business disaster.

Here is the checklist of questions which we hammered out as a guideline to successful discounting that will let you sleep peacefully at night:

1. Is this a stock clearance?

Some businesses stock ranges that have a very short shelf life, such as clothing that quickly goes out of fashion. If this is your market, you need to learn to accept that some of the goods you have bought in will be less appealing than others to your customers. The sooner you shift them out of the store through sale discounts, the sooner you can replace them with goods that repay you with a full profit.

Related: What To Know About Franchising Your Business

2. Is this a cashflow crunch?

If you are reluctant about devising quick discounts on selected ranges to generate enough cash to pay the rent, you are right. This is a red flag that your business could be in trouble. Pay attention and spend time focusing on how you will recover once you are past this immediate crisis – otherwise you are in a downward spiral.

3. What are you celebrating?

Maybe you have a business or seasonal anniversary that you want to celebrate. Selected discounting in this situation can help you reward repeat customers and consolidate their loyalty as well as attracting new customers into your business.

4. Is your promotion a win-win?

Long-term repeat discount promotions can have a negative impact on even your most loyal customers. Effectively you are training them to wait for your discounts – unless you set up a win-win strategy such as partial discounting. A great example of how this can work is Steers’ Wacky Wednesday. Customers win when they come into the branches for a discounted hamburger. Steers wins because customers still pay the normal price for cool drinks, chips and so on, sales that the company probably would not otherwise make on a quiet midweek trading day.

5. Are you joining the herd?

black-fridayBlack Friday is a classic example of this. Some retailers have felt stampeded into offering discounts because they worry that everybody else is. The jury is still out on whether this new trading phenomenon increases sales overall or just moves them out of December and into November. To benefit most, you need to have stock that you want to clear or loss leaders that you have bought in at prices that do not cripple you financially.

Related: 5 Last-Minute Tips For Small Retailers To Boost Black Friday Sales

6. Do you own your own sale?

Our company-wide “Spring Clean” concept sale was a great example of finding a reason to discount that worked for our branches, our customers and our brand and meant that our discount was not drowned out in the marketplace.

We encouraged customers to bring us unwanted goods from their homes and benefit from freeing up the cash value.

At the same time, we also attracted customers into the stores to pick up bargains from stock that we wanted to clear. Running this promotion at a time of year when many other retailers are quiet promotionally meant that we owned the spring-clean discount concept and it highlighted our brand across the market.

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Franchisee Advice

What To Know About Franchising Your Business

For many businesses, franchising is an excellent route to growth, opening up new opportunities and markets. Laurette Pienaar, National Franchise Manager at Nedbank, unpacks why it’s worth considering this route.

Nadine Todd

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laurette-pienaar

Vital Stats

  • Player: Laurette Pienaar
  • Position: National Franchise Manager
  • Company: Nedbank Limited
  • Visit: nedbank.co.za

What type of business is ideally suited to the franchise model?

Franchising has been proven successful across all industries, including the automotive, food, entertainment and retail industries. However, several key qualities ultimately determine a concept’s ability to successfully become a franchise.

Firstly, the business model must be scalable and able to be repeated in several locations. Secondly, there must be demand for the products sold and, thirdly, the franchise model must be proven as profitable.

Related: (Infographic) 7 Digital Marketing Strategies For Franchises

Why is franchising a good growth option?

Franchising is often used as a cost-effective growth strategy for businesses. A key benefit of this strategy is that no capital layout is required for a new franchised store as opposed to corporate-owned stores.

Franchised stores are also proven to be more successful than corporate-owned stores. This is mainly due to the fact that the franchise owners have a vested interest in the store, whereas corporate stores are supervised by a manager. Franchising is therefore also a great way to build your brand.

What should business owners focus on?

Franchisors should set up good infrastructure to support their franchisees, including good upfront and ongoing training to both the franchisees and their staff, the correct legal advice and assistance, and a strong operational team to assist franchisees daily.

Many successful franchisors provide support by expanding through vertical integration, which provides franchisees with logistics, supply chain security and product consistency.

Several franchisors advocate a structure with both franchisee and corporate-owned stores. This enables a franchisor to keep in touch with the daily challenges franchisees experience and new products and solutions can be tested at a corporate store before being rolled out to the franchise network.

How can franchising consultants assist business owners?

Franchise consultants provide daily operational support to franchisees. They are responsible for daily store visits to assist with quality checks, process flows, supplier relationships and, often, financial assessments. They are a helpful soundboard on any improvements to be made in the business model and can convey suggestions to the franchisor.

Related: The Secret Sauce To Great Franchise Leadership

What challenges should business owners be aware of?

Businesses looking to franchise need to ensure that their business is teachable to others. Overcomplicated products and systems may deter franchisees from investing in your brand.

Franchisors have to do ongoing introspection regarding their company culture. For example, does the culture promote innovation and inspire franchisees and consumers, which ultimately is a culture worth investing in?

New franchisors’ selection criteria for franchisees are often not sufficiently thorough and comprehensive. For a new franchisor, it is important to choose good quality franchisees and to have strict selection criteria to ensure that your brand remains reputable and stable during fast-expanding cycles.

What lessons can be learnt from SA’s successful franchises?

Businesses looking to expand through franchising should consider setting up several corporate-owned stores first. This assures potential investors that your business is based on a proven model with a track record and supportive infrastructure.

There is not always a one-size-fits-all model. Many franchisors have created custom models to accommodate and adjust to the need of a specific property or consumer market. A great example of this would be the food industry where many franchisors offer shopping centre concepts, drive thrus and kiosk or express concepts. Consider this when developing your model.

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Franchisee Advice

Develop Digital Marketing Competency In 3 Simple Steps

Conquering the digital revolution needn’t be daunting. Polish up your tech skills and watch your digital marketing prowess increase throughout your franchise.

Diana Albertyn

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digital-marketing

As a franchisor, digital marketing may be proving to be a challenge due to the unique structuring of the business.

“The very nature of franchises is ‘structured’, however, when it comes to marketing, that structure often lacks,” says Marcela De Vivo, Founder and CEO of Gryffin Media.

Franchisors and franchisees often struggle to reach common ground when looking to achieve different marketing goals. While the franchisor needs to control the brand in its entirety, the franchisee wants to market their business using particular strategies suited to their location.

Research has found that smartphones are the biggest influencers of 82% of users when they make their in-store purchase decisions while. It’s for this reason that the importance of digital marketing for franchises has increased.

Here’s how to harness its power of influence, amplify foot traffic and solidify brand loyalty:

1. Recruit digital natives and early adopters

As much as you’re the leader of your franchise network, there are franchisees in your chain you could learn from. The global increase in millennial franchise owners means it is highly likely that you’ll be able to identify early digital adopters within your franchise network.

“The best people to learn from are those who have been in your shoes before,” says Matt Forman of the Franchise Centre at Griffith University.

“Encourage and support their efforts and use them as case studies to demonstrate to the rest of your franchisees the value of digital marketing, and how to do it right.”

2. Invest in training your team

“Each digital competency level requires more education and resources in order to integrate digital marketing with your physical stores,” says Forman. For this reason, regularly investing in continuous training for your team so as to ensure they keep abreast of any new and emerging trends.

Proactivity and adapting to the constantly evolving digital landscape led KFC to open a LinkedIn account for its founder and mascot Colonel Sanders. KFC’s out of the box tactic is a fresh approach to what has long been considered a B2B platform, under-utilised as a B2C platform.

3. Apply custom targeting techniques

The discovery of new and small businesses is being fuelled by Google searches, social media and online reviews, making these platforms a goldmine of invaluable tools.

Leveraging certain custom targeting techniques like easily searchable keywords and exposure on other reputable and high-traffic websites, gives your franchise’s digital marketing efforts a boost. This results in an effective campaign, favourable reviews and meaningful and lasting interactions with consumers “whether it’s a reply to a Facebook comment or a retweet,” says Entrepreneur’s Emily Conklin.

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