Honouring Franchisee Excellence

Recognizing 2019’s CFA Awards of Excellence Franchisee of the Year winners

Each year, the Canadian Franchise Association (CFA) recognizes the achievements and efforts of franchises through the CFA Awards of Excellence, and for the first time this year, the CFA also honoured the achievements of exemplary franchisees. The Franchisee of the Year award was presented to six franchisees who have demonstrated excellence in business performance, community involvement, and leadership.

Here, you’ll meet the Gold winners in the Traditional and Non-Traditional categories, as well as the four other Franchisee of the Year award winners.

Kelly-Anne Pelley – Subway, Corner Brook, Newfoundland & Labrador

Gold, Traditional

For Kelly-Anne Pelley, being a franchisee is very much a part of her identity – she’s part of a family with three generations of franchisees, and has been a Subway franchisee since she was 20 years old. Together with her husband, James, and their daughter, Emily, Kelly-Anne Pelley went from running a single store in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, to running six stores across the west coast of Newfoundland. Then, in June of 2017, Pelley shares, “We were very fortunate to facilitate the purchase of nine more stores in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where we grew up. We now have a total of 16 stores.”

Pelley notes that Subway has always been good about recognizing its franchisees. “But this is the first year that someone has been nominated to the CFA awards,” she says. Pelley is incredibly humble about the honour, immediately recognizing the contributions of her husband, daughter, and their incredible staff.

“Winning the award was definitely a shock, and surprising, because I don’t think I’m really any more special than anyone else,” Pelley shares. “It was definitely confirmation that maybe I am doing a good job.”

Having had experience with several franchises before focusing solely on Subway, Kelly-Anne knows the importance of looking at a company’s history before deciding whether it’s the right franchise opportunity for you. “I’ve lived and I’ve learned. I’ve made mistakes. So, a longer history would be a key indicator, for me, of a successful franchise,” Pelley continues, “and Subway has been around for a long time – about 50 years.”

Aside from a strong industry history, staying current in the business is key, Pelley says, for a successful operation. “We attend as many local, regional, and national conventions as possible, to make sure we always stay on top of what’s new and how we can make improvements in our stores.”

Furthermore, Pelley and her team prioritize customers and employees equally. “We pride ourselves on offering great customer service,” Pelley says, “and I still work the line when we’re busy. I’m very committed to training, and we have very little staff turnover. We have a team of almost 150 who we have the utmost respect for.”

This inclusive mentality is undoubtedly part of the reason that Pelley won Gold in the Traditional category of this year’s CFA Awards of Excellence. “My motto is that being a Subway franchisee is a lifestyle, not a career.”

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Paul Bimm & Lyne Vincent – TWO MEN AND A TRUCK, Ottawa, Ontario

Gold, Non-Traditional

Paul Bimm and Lyne Vincent, owners of a TWO MEN AND A TRUCK moving franchise in Ottawa, Ontario, both began their professional careers in the finance sector. After moving to a new area, and with Lyne returning to work after a maternity leave, they were looking at starting their own business. “I always had the entrepreneurial bug in me,” Bimm shares. “We had known the people at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK through our previous work lives, and learned that they were looking for franchisees in Ottawa.”

For Bimm and Vincent, the basis of the business model of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK really appealed to them. “There was a very strong emphasis on customer service,” Bimm says. “Treating the client right is the most powerful marketing tool available. Referrals and repeat clients!”

The core values of the company were also aligned with the couple’s own: “Customer service, focus on our employees, and giving back to the community,” Bimm adds. “The franchise concept to me is being able to get a head start on a business with a proven brand and business model, which can save time in the learning and growth involved in a new business.

“Learning the business was a huge challenge, but we maintained our focus on our clients and our employees, as well as on the experience of our peers and partners within the industry.”

Not being afraid to learn is integral to succeeding in a new industry, as is reaching out to the built-in support that franchises offer. “People care and help,” Bimm says. “The franchise system has a very intensive two-week training program, and there is ongoing support to get up and running. We have a central online training and communications system to stay up to date and relevant, and an extensive training tool for our employees.”

Having a supportive and engaged head office is crucial for franchise success, Bimm notes. “Our head office is constantly looking at how to make things more efficient. Plus, we are always looking at new revenue opportunities and how to stay ahead of our competition.”

“I have to say that Lyne is the ‘heart and soul’ of all of this,” adds Bimm. “She managed to persevere and make all this a success. Despite a challenging year, she was able to continue to give back to others. Winning the award was quite humbling. To be recognized like this among so many great franchisees and systems is amazing.”

Kelsi Ashley & Erin Levesque – Molly Maid, Sudbury, Ontario

Silver, Non-Traditional

Why did you want to own your own franchise business?

Prior to us owning this franchise, our parents owned it. We eventually got involved in the business and wanted to take it on ourselves.

Why did you decide to franchise with this particular concept?

As second-generation franchisees, we had front-row seats to what it took to be successful. We liked the concept and saw that there was tremendous opportunity for growth.

What are the benefits of being a franchisee?

We love the brand, the system, and the support we receive from Molly Maid, including a team at our support office who is there to provide us with resources.

Why have you found success with your franchise business?

Brand awareness is crucial. We also believe in providing the best customer service possible, developing strong relationships with our customers, team members, and community.

What advice do you have for others considering franchising?

Choose an industry that you are passionate about, something that gives you purpose. Do your due diligence, and, if possible, spend time at that business before deciding to become a franchisee. Be willing to continually learn and grow.

Spencer Janke – Elite Trade Painting, Edmonton, Alberta

Silver, Non-Traditional

Why did you want to own your own franchise business?

I always wanted to own my own business and felt that starting a franchise business would help me get the tools I needed to scale and grow the business.

Why did you decide to franchise with this particular concept?

I had previous experience running a painting business, so it was a natural fit to use my experience and connections to help build a larger year-round business.

What are the benefits of being a franchisee?

Using tools that have already been created by the franchise system saves time and energy. I can grow my business more rapidly than someone working on their own because I have access to systems and procedures that have been refined by our franchisor.

Why have you found success with your franchise business?

The first is our people, and the second is our commitment to customer service and quality—the most important customer we have is the one we are already working for.

What advice do you have for others considering franchising?

Meet with franchisees to ask about their experience in the business. Spending an hour having coffee with someone who is already in the business is invaluable.

John Lockyer – Dairy Queen, Orangeville, Ontario

Bronze, Traditional

Why did you want to own your own franchise business?

I ended up in the store by accident, helping my family out.

Why did you decide to franchise with this particular concept?

My family was in the construction business, and my dad and his business partner decided to buy a Dairy Queen. I said I would help out for a year, and that was 30 years ago!

What are the benefits of being a franchisee?

Name, logo, and product recognition are key. With this franchise, an operator can follow a proven business system. Our corporate office provides research and development for new products, as well as quality assurance.

Why have you found success with your franchise business?

We invest in training and development for our team, as well as supporting and sponsoring local organizations. We have a very strong purchasing cooperative that I’m the vice president of, and we take care of purchasing for all of Dairy Queen Canada.

What advice do you have for others considering franchising?

Canadian Dairy Queen franchisees belong to the Canadian Operators Association, which helps us with communication and policy, working hand-in-hand with International Dairy Queen on system-wide changes. Know that IDQ recognizes that happy and profitable franchisees re-invest in their businesses.

Mark Mebs – BeaverTails, Victoria, British Columbia

Silver, Traditional

Why did you want to own your own franchise business?

It made a lot of sense to me in part because it takes some of the risk out of owning a business – the franchisor has already done the ground work for you and allows you to step into an established system with a proven track record of success.

Why did you decide to franchise with this particular concept?

One of the key factors was getting to know the senior leadership team. The more I spoke with them, the more certain I became that this was the direction I wanted to take.

What are the benefits of being a franchisee?

It grants you access to an entire network of people who are just like you, who you can reach out to for ideas and advice, and you know that there is a team that wants to see you succeed.

Why have you found success with your franchise business?

I’m not afraid to try something new to see if it works. I can definitely tell you that not every one of my ideas has worked, but the key is not to be afraid to try.

What advice do you have for others considering franchising?

Get to know the brand and what they stand for, find out what support will be available to you from the franchisor, try to get to know the people you’ll be dealing with, and talk to franchisees who are already part of the concept you’re looking at.


By Jessica Burgess