By Gina Makkar
A seasoned executive, Rakshan Atiq managed computer academies for over 20 years in her native India. When she arrived in Canada in 2002, she knew she wanted to leverage her experience to start a business. “I wanted to invest, and starting out with help of a franchise was better than branching out on my own.”
For several years, she pored over investment options in search of a well-known brand with solid procedures and a plan she could easily put in motion. “I came across an ad in the newspaper that said Marble Slab Creamery was looking to open stores in Edmonton. At the time, they were a year old in Canada, and Edmonton was one of the places where they were looking to grow. I thought it was a really interesting concept, so I responded to the ad and did my due diligence.”
The first year was not without its challenges. A novice on the food scene, Atiq needed to learn everything from making ice cream and rolling cones to mopping floors and customer service. She often worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for the first six months. “It’s my philosophy that you have to learn every aspect of a business, because when you are confident that you know everything, you can confidently train your staff.”
She adds that hiring and retaining good staff was an initial challenge that she eventually overcame. Though QSRs attract plenty of first-time employees and turnover can be high, Atiq learned that effective training, coupled with a motivating and rewarding environment, goes a long way to retaining a reliable, dependable customer-focused team.
When Atiq first came on board, a two week comprehensive program at the corporate office taught her everything from how to manage costs and implement safety standards to effective marketing and hiring. Once she was up and running, training continued at the store level. Atiq found particular value in the on-site training, where the real time realities of running the business were assessed and improvements could be made on the spot.
However, support doesn’t end when franchisees have completed their initial training. Just a call or an email away, area managers continue to be available when a franchisee needs them. A company intranet site is loaded with all the latest tools to foster franchise success. Marketing materials are just a click away, and franchisees can print coupons and posters quickly and effectively, allowing them spend more time on what’s really important – growing their business.
What does Atiq love best about her business? “I love Marble Slab because it’s a happy business for happy people. Customers are coming in for a treat and looking forward to it, and they are in a good mood. It really gives me a high when kids and people smile…It’s a reward for me.”
Adapted from the May/June issue of FranchiseCanada. Check out the May/June 2016 issue of FranchiseCanada, on newsstands now, or you can order your subscription by calling 1-800-665-4232 ext. 224.