Tips for success from an award-winning retail franchisee

By Sarah Stowe | 23 Nov 2015 View comments

Kyle and Russell Cooper, centre.When you buy a franchise there will plenty of challenges along the journey to build a successful business. But Russell Cooper of Snooze Capalaba has it figured out.

With a strong retail background spanning over three decades, Russell worked in store management for a number of furniture retailers before moving to Snooze as a regional manager in January 2006 and progressing to national operations manager in 2008.

In 2010, Russell decided to become his own boss and purchased Snooze Capalaba – quite a risk in the tough retail climate. Four years later, Russell and his partner Belinda have been awarded the highest accolade at the annual Snooze Annual Conference, Retailer of the Year.

This isn’t the first time the pair has held this trophy; it’s the second – a true testament to their success across profit performance, store operations, staff development and customer satisfaction.

With such a successful story to tell and second store in Helensvale on the way, we caught up with Russell to get some tips on what it takes to be an award-winning retailer.

Recognise the big changes you need to make to reach your consumers

I walked into the toughest retail climate in the last 25 years, and knew I needed to do something with the store’s presentation in order to gain an advantage over competitors.  It wasn’t rocket science, but it’s the little things that go a long way in retail – especially when it comes to a store’s look and feel, which makes the crucial first impression.

Change your sales strategy and operations to suit your foot traffic

There was a period when foot traffic into store declined quite significantly.  Rather than pushing our sale items, we decided to speak with our customers to try and understand the reasons why they weren’t visiting as frequently, and implemented solutions accordingly.

One of the key issues identified was the wait for furniture to be delivered to their home.  As a result we took a number of steps to keep customers in the loop when expecting a Snooze delivery – particularly, alerting them to their delivery a day and an hour before it’s due.

It’s by no means been easy, but listening and responding to our patrons has really set our customer experience apart from the pack. It has given us the opportunity to turn negative experiences into positive ones and celebrate exceptional employee customer service along the way.

Invest in the right people to take care of the financials

It’s okay not to be great at all operations. Subsequently, it is vital to recognise the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your team.

I, for example, have always known that bookkeeping isn’t my strong suit. Acknowledging that I wasn’t as competent as I could be in ledger management, I employed a skilled bookkeeper to work with us three days per week. It was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.

Be prepared and trust the business you work with

In this fast-moving economy you can’t afford to take your eye off the ball and constantly need to be seeking opportunities to improve in all aspects of business operation.

From engaging in conversations with customers to investigating complaints, we have managed to safeguard the success of our franchise by never becoming complacent and continuing to learn from mistakes.

You also need to trust your support network and the business you have invested in.  We have always had faith in the leadership, passion and direction of Simon Beaty (managing director for Snooze). This was especially pertinent during the early days of becoming a franchise partner, but has continued to guide the business through the later stages as well.