“I never thought at my age I’d be getting a high-risk licence!” jokes award-winning retailer, Bedshed franchisee Suzanne Joliffe.
After two days of training, Suzanne is now licensed to drive the stock picker that enables her warehouse staff to load heavy items of furniture easily and safely. “Eighteen months ago, I didn’t know what racking, or a stock picker was,” she says.
It’s a physical side to running a Bedshed franchise that was a little unexpected, she admits. Of course the heavy lifting is done by warehouse staff, but now Suzanne is qualified to step in and fulfil customer orders, if needed.
It’s all part of the highly-professional approach that Suzanne brings as a successful business owner – someone who knows how to ramp up the gears and get outstanding results in a matter of months.
Opening a brand new Bedshed and building it into a high-performing retail outlet with minimum staff is a a little different from Suzanne’s previous retail experience. As a Telstra licensee she operated two mobile phone stores with 30 staff, until the telco bought back all its licensed stores.
Bedshed business model
“We were looking for something new and Bedshed kept appearing in online searches for the best business to buy, which appealed to us.”
Once Suzanne and her husband John had met key members of the franchisor team and reviewed the business, they were convinced Bedshed was the right fit.
“The franchising business model is sound, and we really liked the franchisor’s attitude towards franchisees. We had worked with a large corporation previously that was not responsive to licensees’ needs and we saw how engaged the Bedshed franchisor was, which was extremely appealing to us. It was refreshingly different to what we had been working with and were previously used to.
“We also had an opinion about where we wanted to be located,” says Suzanne. “We proposed some locations where we thought a business like this would work and Rutherford was our number one choice.”
Situated at the base of the New South Wales’ Hunter Valley, Rutherford is a thriving, rapidly growing area popular with young families.
“The Bedshed team is very open to suggestions. And we were thrilled to find out Rutherford was a key opportunity and area of growth for the brand.”
Award-winning Bedshed franchisee
The pair signed up as franchisees for the store and opened the doors 15 months ago. Since then they have embraced everything about the Bedshed business, and benefited from the incentives that come with owning your own Bedshed store.
It’s a story of success achieved in a short period of time.
Suzanne and John recently won New Franchisee of the Year for Bedshed NSW, recognition based on store performance and growth.
“I think what helped us win this award was understanding within the first 12 months exactly how to optimise the business systems. And as I had been in small business before I was happy to share with other franchisees best practices to adopt and implement in a retail environment, and how to best present the store.”
The couple also snared the Best Presented Store award for New South Wales. And one employee excelled in her very first job, scooping up a Best Sales Performance and Best Employee award.
Promoting the award-winning employee to the store manager has paid dividends. “She is absolutely committed to our business; she’s been with us since day one. We’ve just had a 10-day holiday in Bali and left her in charge. We had just one phone call from her the whole time.”
Suzanne’s success as a newbie franchisee was recognised by her peers who nominated her to represent New South Wales and ACT on the MAC (Merchandise Advisory Council). The MAC brings franchisees into the furniture sourcing process and is one of the standout elements of the business model.
“This has been fantastic for our business because I get to see what’s happening in the business and the exciting furniture trends. But it also helps other new franchisees as I can share some insights on future developments,” she says.
“The MAC is also a brilliant networking opportunity. On the two overseas buying trips I’ve been on I have met franchisees with 30-years of experience with Bedshed. These trips are for 10-days, and they are a good chance to network and learn from your peers.”
Suzanne says the MAC is typical of the collaborative approach that is so effective at engaging Bedshed franchisees and delivering good results.
“With the Franchise Advisory Council too, we receive input about how the business is run and operated. This is also the perfect opportunity to gain key insights into the industry and market landscape to adopt and implement best practices for running your business.”
Bedshed’s robust and effective franchisee model is matched by strong consumer appeal, she says. The brand offers distinctive service promises such as a 60-night comfort guarantee, immediate availability of in-stock furniture, and a seven-day price promise.
“Those propositions are real, they work for the customer, they work for franchisees.”
Right now, this award-winning Bedshed franchisee duo is bedding down the sales processes and building a loyal customer base.
“It’s all about trying to provide the customer with exactly what they need and to close the deal, now whilst they’re in the market, she says. “I’m also very big on repeat business and maintaining long-term relationships.”
“New customers tell us they choose to shop with us because they saw our multiple 5-star Google reviews! This really does prove what we are doing is working for us.”