Prominent Women Share Franchising Secrets
To celebrate Women’s Month, whichfranchise spoke to two dynamic women who are prominent players in the South African franchise industry.
Sally J’Arlette-Joy, franchisor of the Sandwich Baron, is formerly from the UK and graduated to franchising
from a career in the restaurant and entertainment business.
Bronwyn Oliveira, Senior Brand Manager for Maxi’s Restaurants, previously worked in the advertising industry and has an extensive marketing background.
We posed these questions to them:
Q: What initially attracted you to franchising as a business model?
SJJ: Franchising really was the next step for me when my sandwich business started to take off because I had not been open long before I had my first franchise enquiry. If you would like to become involved in franchising, it is important to speak to an organisation like the franchise Association of Southern Africa (FASA) to get the right input for your planned business.
BO: I was attracted to the Maxi’s brand because the company was a ‘smaller fish’ in the pond and the leaders of the organisation, Christo Calitz and Carlo Gonzaga, inspired me as both were something of a ‘rogue agent’ in the franchise and business worlds.
Q: Why do you believe the franchise industry is well-suited to women?
SJJ: The franchising model is one that affords an entrepreneur an extended support network. Your team stretches further than just your in-house staff. It includes your franchisees who are like-minded and want the same things you want to make a success of the business. I believe that mutual support is an essential ingredient in the recipe for success of a relationship, and it is something that most women value.
BO: It’s important for both women and men to choose an industry about which they are passionate.
Q: In your opinion, which specific qualities do women bring to franchising?
SJJ: Attention to detail, a great focus on maintaining healthy relationships within the team, as well as a caring nature towards customers.
BO: I believe that most woman know their strengths and weaknesses and don’t mind admitting to them. They focus on what they are good at and find alternatives to the things they aren’t so good at. Therefore, if you are a people person it’s better to be out on the floor and let someone else run the operations, especially if you can’t stand being tucked away in the office.
Q: Do you believe more women are choosing non-traditional franchise options (instead of feminine-type concepts)?
SJJ: I think women have certainly become more empowered within the business world to take on roles that were previously considered more ‘masculine’. I can certainly see a balance between traditional and non-traditional roles for women in business as they are not really limited and are encouraged to live out their passions and talents in any industry.
BO: I don’t believe the old stereotypes apply anymore.
Q: Which specific challenges do women face in the business environment in general and franchising in particular?
SJJ: I think, as in any business, a lot of prejudice still exists, and many businesspeople still treat women as inferior. A lot of emphasis is also still placed on their role as ‘caretakers’ at home, and I believe many women are made to feel guilty if their focus do not lie exclusively on the household. Being dedicated to both home and work does not make a woman any less of a mother or caretaker. The secret lies in maintaining a balance between work and family life. As long as a happy medium can be established, all challenges can be overcome.
BO: Raising kids, running a household, finding time for yourself and having a career can be challenging. But there is time in life for everything – decide what’s important to you and make it happen.
Q: What have been the high points in your career and what have been the greatest obstacles?
SJJ: Building Sandwich Baron up from scratch has been the greatest pride and joy of my career. Of course I have had to face many obstacles along the way. Even though the demand for my product was great, I did face some financial constraints. However, today it is the fastest-growing lunch-time sandwich franchise in South Africa with 57 stores currently open, and counting.
BO: Being part of a vision and concept, and seeing it brought to fruition, is what gives the ultimate satisfaction.
Q: How do you ‘marry’ your personal life with your professional life?
SJJ: This is an ongoing exercise. Finding a balance between my own family and my Sandwich Baron family took me quite a few years to master. Over time you find equilibrium in both personal and work life and it is vital to just keep at it. I try not to work in the evenings and during the weekends to add some balance to my life.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
SJJ: To continue strengthen the brand from the inside out by welcoming franchisees into the family who understand its value, and work with me to take the brand to new heights.
BO: To be happy, healthy, inspired and remain challenged.
Q: What advice can you give young businesswomen entering the franchise industry?
SJJ: I would recommend that they carry on working on a part-time basis in the early stages of the business until they are sure it can work. During this time networking is important so that relationships can be built with potential clients. Also, positive mentoring is imperative. In my early years I had my dad to bounce ideas off, so having some support within a close circle will help a great deal.
BO: Choose an industry that you like, be prepared to work hard and long hours, remember everything you’ve learnt up to this point and don’t accept mediocrity. If you open a restaurant, treat it like it’s your home and be proud of it. Most of all, be proud of yourself.
Q: How do you see the future of franchising in South Africa?
SJJ: To me franchising is the only way to go in business. Non-franchise businesses have not been able to withstand the ups and downs of the economy during the past few years. I see growth in lower cost franchises, as investors seem more cautious when it comes to spending their hard-earned cash. The fast food sector still remains strong and this has given me the confidence to open a new brand called Paddys Pancakes.
BO: South Africa needs entrepreneurs; children today are learning how to think about being entrepreneurs instead of working for a boss. Franchising is the start of this and allows people the freedom to enter a business, while eliminating some of the risk involved.