Ben Old is a multi-store multi-brand franchisee with 19 stores in the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. He’s incredibly passionate about working with people and the quality of his relationships and these values are reflected in his success.

He’s been in franchising for 20 years, starting at age 17 working in a SUBWAY store while at university. He rose through the ranks at SUBWAY, as store manager then area manager, field consultant and to franchisee at age 20.

The quote of the episode was, “Learning with other people’s money is the best way to learn.”

After his second store, Ben took on, on average, another store every 13 weeks for the next 5 years. In all, he’s had 29 locations across a few different brands.

Ben built his core team from day one. Three of the original staff members from his first store were with him for the following 20 years! He was able to promote from within which has built trust with his people.

Growing up on a cattle property gave ben a sense of self-reliance and his Dad served as a mentor to grow young Ben’s leadership skills. From the beginning he was urged to ‘give it a go’ and ‘have a crack’ at life. No regrets!

The business is all about the people, and everyone who Ben has met who is successful in franchising is focused on the quality of their relationships with people.

Ben chose to open Zarraffas stores because:

  • he was passionate about the brand
  • he loves the product
  • he likes the people, the franchisor and other franchisees
  • he could see it was a smart system.

Ben focuses on customer numbers as a KPI. This is in addition all the standard KPIs the franchisor recommends. Focus on customers and top-line sales, and your staff will reflect this back to you, Ben says.

His customers get a great customer experience, specifically in 3 easy steps:

  1. say hello and use their name
  2. have a fantastic product and seek confirmation that the customer is happy with it
  3. help them feel welcome when they return

Ben says these three things are simple and basic but if you do them well, you stand out. It’s so true – when is the last time you were wowed by service in a fast casual restaurant?

Ben’s worst moment in business was in his first week as a franchisee when a car took out the power for a day. Another awful moment was getting a nearly $1m bill from the tax office! Ben learnt from both these experience that you have to accept there will be things you can’t control in business. Be prepared for anything!

Ben’s advice is to focus on what you’re good at. He loves getting in touch with new customers and new staff and still takes the orientation and training classes for new staff himself, because he genuinely enjoys meeting and inspiring new people.

The Japanese word, Kaizen was a recurring theme in this episode – it means constant improvement. That’s what Ben strives for – making his business a little better every day.

He has used Zuus Workforce and other tech solutions like Dropbox and Xero to reduce his admin staff from 3 full timers down to one part-timer.

Ben recommends:

  1. Now Hiring!: Finding & Keeping Good Help for Your Entry-Wage Jobs
  2. The E-Myth by Michael Gerber
  3. Jim Rohn
  4. QSR Magazine

Ben’s final piece of advice is to get out of your bubble! Travel and meet people, and be a customer in as many QSR and Fast Casual restaurants as you can. You will always learn something from visiting your friends and competitors as a customer.

Get in touch with Ben on LinkedIn.

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