What is the best advice you ever received?
I don’t have a best piece of advice, but during our recent negotiations with The Fish & Chip Co, I was reminded of some advice I received some time ago.
It was about nine years ago when I was having a debate (or argument) with Bill Daly, current chairman of the Taste board. We were going back and forth and at some point he stopped me and, rather frustrated, said: “Listen to understand my position, not to defend your position.” What he was basically saying was that while he was trying to get his view across he could see that I wasn’t actually listening to understand him, I was just thinking about my next rebuttal.
What motivates you in your business?
My responsibility to our employees, franchisees, suppliers and shareholders to build a company that we are all proud to be a part of.
What was the hardest/most valuable lesson you learnt so far?
Never believe a forecast spreadsheet! Seriously though, it would be ‘be patient for growth, but impatient for profit’. Too often we pursue growth as if it’s the reason for existence. Adding value to peoples’ lives is the reason for the existence of business. Profit and growth are a consequence of doing that well.
What do you think the biggest challenge currently is for the franchising industry?
Thinning of profit margins at store level. We estimate that the electricity increases alone have added a cost of between 3% – 6% of revenue to the running costs of a business, which in many cases results in electricity being higher than rental. Further increases above inflation are simply not absorbable.
What do you predict for the industry in 2012?
Generally, more emphasis on brand building and innovation – both at product and business model level.