- 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
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
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
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.”
6 Top Tips For Reading Management Accounts
There is a golden key that reveals the secret of whether your business will survive and thrive. It is keeping tabs on the figures that summarise the strength of your business – your monthly management accounts.
There is a golden key that reveals the secret of whether your business will survive and thrive. It is not the brilliance of your business concept. It is not your talent for talking clients to sign on the dotted line. It is keeping tabs on the figures that summarise the strength of your business – your monthly management accounts.
Many entrepreneurs are usually more interested in operations and find product development or sales much more enjoyable than catching up on accounts. I sympathise – I’m one of them! So if you feel the same way, my top tip is always to make sure that you partner with or employ someone who can oversee the finances for you.
But that does not mean you can let the figure boffins and the finances take care of themselves. To function properly in your business, you need to know the outcome of your sales and development strategies – and the story of that is told in your management accounts.
If you never look at your management accounts, it is like blinding yourself in one eye. It means you risk being literally blindsided by a big surprise, whether it is heading for a significant loss or being confronted by an unexpected provisional tax payment.
Here is how Engela van Loggerenberg, our Group Financial Manager, puts management accounts in perspective for our new franchisees. She urges them to focus on six key areas:
- Priorities: Management accounts can help you pinpoint areas that you need to prioritise, whether to capitalise on growth or because they are not performing as well as you hoped.
- Strength: All businesses aim to grow their assets over time and the balance sheet in your management accounts will reflect whether and how you are achieving that.
- Control: A strong balance sheet is one that shows you have your business liabilities well controlled. The key marker here is your current liquidity ratio, which results from dividing your current assets by your current liabilities. To keep your business healthy, always aim to keep this ratio at least 2:1.
- Revenue: Ideally, you want to see your revenue grow month by month. Check your income statement both for the trend in actual revenue and also for actual against budgeted revenue to check how well your strategies are delivering results.
- Profitability: Of course, revenue is not the same as profitability. You need to know your gross profit – the basic figure of your sales less the cost of those goods – and net profit, which also deducts a range of other expenses including taxes. Track the percentage of these two profit figures as well as the actual cash amount they represent to keep a check on whether your costs are creeping up too high.
- Finance: Most businesses at some point want to finance their growth by borrowing from a bank. A set of well-regulated management accounts is a prerequisite to obtaining finance.
Your management accounts do not have to be particularly complicated to give you these vital pointers – and if you are figure-shy, the more straightforward the better.
The important thing, though, is that you do not allow yourself to be too scared to ask if there is something which is not clear to you. That is the way to keep control of this key to your business fortunes and to keep building your business from strength to strength.
A Three-Pronged Approach To Franchise Success
Danie Nel, head of business development for Cash Crusaders franchising, says the brand’s success over the past 22 years is attributed to the sentiment that “a profitable franchisee is a happy franchisee.”
What is your current footprint?
220 Stores. We’re looking to increase that number by another 20 stores for the 2018 financial year, which will then bring us to a total of 240 stores. Depending on the economy, we’re looking to grow our footprint even more to around 300 to 350 stores nationwide in the near future.
What are some of your brand’s biggest achievements that other franchises can learn from?
Our ability to read the retail market and innovate to stay ahead of times. We have recently launched an online platform where customers can sell their goods or borrow money — all online. This was a first for online retailing. One other achievement that I would wish to highlight is the launch of our mobile phone range, Doogee, exclusive to Cash Crusaders. Personally, having the honour of opening our 200th store was a tremendous achievement.
Franchisor involvement has also played a big role in the success of the organisation. Our CEO Sean Stegmann and other senior managers are as much involved in the business as any other operations manager or operator.
There is simply no ‘ivory tower’ management in our business and it makes a huge difference.
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered and how have you overcome these?
Some of our daily challenges include securing a premises at a favourable rental and securing a franchisee with sufficient unencumbered capital, who is credit- worthy. Once the store is open, cash flow management and stock procurement is key.
In addition to this, it’s a challenge to achieve profitability immediately and to meet franchisee expectations. It’s also vital to ensure superb customer service and to retain those customers in the current retail and economic climate. I would say that our single biggest challenge is to retain and to build our customer base.
What attracts franchisees to Cash Crusaders?
Our unique retail model that allows for multiple streams of income through one business. These three profit centres include: New goods (variety of imported quality goods), second-hand goods (which we buy directly from the public, either through customers coming directly to our stores, or via our house-buy system offered by some of our stores) and secured lending (a financial service where customers can borrow money against valuables, determined at store level, and the loan is repaid within 30 days — or the contract is renewed for another 30 days with interest and service fees charged).
Why is it important for successful franchises such as yours to have a strong banking partner and how does it benefit both the franchisor and the franchisee?
Gone are the days where you just got a deposit book or cheque book and a little business loan from your bank. Banking has become more sophisticated and the technology that the bank offers is as important as its service, making life for both the franchisee and the franchisor easier on a day-to-day basis.
5 S-Words Make Your Store Site Pay For Itself
Richard Mukheibir, CEO of Cash Converters recently addressed delegates at the FASA (Franchise Association of SA) conference on the topic of choosing the best location for their business. He spoke about the 5-S technique to assist business owners with deciding which premises is best suited for their business.
The combination of continuing trading uncertainty in South Africa and the new financial year for many businesses can add up to carefully reviewing costs – including leases on premises. Choosing a site to set up or relocate your business can be just as stressful as deciding where to buy a house – and just as fundamental to its health, finances and sustainability, says Richard Mukheibir, CEO of Cash Converters.
This is not the time to snap up the property with the cheapest rental as that might turn out to be something you regret in the long run. Nor is it the time to be dazzled by the swankiest premises you can find. The potential for bragging rights could turn out to be poor value for money.
“This is a time for your head to rule your heart regardless of the industry you trade in.” he says.
The real-estate mantra of “location, location, location” works just as effectively in commercial as it does in private property but you will often be looking for rather different factors. Mukheibir shares his 5-S technique to help you begin narrowing down the areas where you will consider locating your business – first at the macro level, focus in further to the meso level, then look more closely at the micro level before you start weighing up specific sites.
Remind yourself of the medium and long-term strategies you have developed for your business. Keep your understanding of your business’s customers, purpose and growth prospects top of mind when you are selecting the areas where you will start looking for sites.
Within those areas, redline any sections where you feel the competition from other businesses will detract from your potential to grow your market. Greenline areas where there are good synergies between the people who live or work there and the demographic that you have identified as your target market.
Make sure there is clearly a good pool of potential customers for you – size definitely matters when it comes to ensuring that there are plenty of customers available to you. Look specifically for facilities that cater for the kind of customers you want to attract. Sports stores benefit from being close to schools and tertiary colleges, for example.
Although many businesses now have an online element, most still benefit from attracting customers to walk through the door. For your premises to be a good fit for your business, you should be located in plain sight and ensure that your ability to market yourself locally through signage and lamp-post posters is not restricted by local bylaws.
You will attract and retain good customers and staff if they feel they’re secure in the area. This perception includes factors such as easy, safe parking and a welcoming environment.
“Making a success of your business is not just about the product or your branding,” says Mukheibir. “It can be as fundamental as finding a site that ends up paying for itself. To do this, it must offer you a well-calculated gap in the market where the strong demand for the product or service that your business offers ensures sales and profit. If you have considered all these steps carefully, you will never worry about making rent and wages payment again.”
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