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Monique Widing’s new beginning with Clancy’s Meat Co.

7346It was an exciting time, for Mathew, the kids and me. Things were moving quickly, but we just keep rolling with it, enjoying as much of the experience as we could. I’ll admit, everything did move a bit more quickly than Mathew and I had anticipated. All things being equal, given our kids’ ages at the time, we probably would have waited a little longer before getting started. But you can’t always plan when opportunities like this are going to come up—and we knew we didn’t want to let this one pass us by. As a family, we felt that as long as we were doing it together, we could make anything work. Six months or a year later might have been easier, but we were completely confident we could pull it off.

I’m so glad we trusted those instincts. Sure, things were hectic at times, but we never got to the point where we wanted to stop. Of course, I made sure to prepare as much as possible. I took everything I learned from raising three children to help me get ready for this new challenge. Being a stay-at-home parent is a huge job, one that I loved but that also took a lot of effort. I was used to working hard and working long hours, so I used that to help me prepare for life as a franchisee.

There were going to be days when I was going to be overwhelmed, when I would be extremely busy. I knew it was going to be a huge transition for me and the kids. There were going to be days when the kids wouldn’t want me to leave, but I knew I would still have to go to work and be a professional.

Opening for business
We officially opened our doors in West Kelowna on May 13, 2011. At the time, I was the only business open in our strip mall, so I was quite pleased with how well we did considering we were the only ones there. Now, with a couple of other places opening up, we’re getting better traffic flow, so we can only grow from here.

That said, I couldn’t do any of this without support. My family has been there since day one—not just Mathew and the kids, but also our extended family, like my parents, my sister Marla (who works at the store) and everybody else who lent a helping hand. As far as the day-to-day operations of the store go, I handle the lion’s share of the work. Mathew still holds down a full-time job, but he’ll also come in and work at the store, usually one day on the weekend, to make sure we both get time with the kids.

During the week, I’m always here. Mathew takes care of the kids all evening, getting them to soccer games, karate, piano lessons or ballet practice. He also handles a lot of the bills and manages the finances, which allows me to just enjoy working in the store and serving my customers. It’s definitely been busy, but we’re happy to make it work. We just take it one day at a time.

I’ve also had the full support of Paul and the team at the Clancy’s head office. I’m the kind of person who likes structure and clear directions. I don’t mind being told what to do, so I love the structure of a franchise; in fact, I’d go so far as to say I need it. The system keeps me in check, keeps me on the right path. I love that I have someone to go to for help or advice, especially since I’m new to entrepreneurship. My franchisor support team has always been extremely supportive; any time I’ve needed them, they’ve helped me.

A positive start
Even though we’ve only been open for a short time, things have gone quite smoothly. Luckily, the staff I hired have stayed with me and have worked out really well. We’ve built a nice little family here, which has made coming to work a lot of fun. The customers are so happy we’re here, which has been really exciting for me.

On a personal level, it’s been really nice for me to be back in the working world again interacting with people, which I love doing. I enjoy chatting with customers, finding out how they’re doing and what they’re buying. I love hearing about the barbecue they’re having on the long weekend or how they’re inviting everyone over for a family meal. It makes it a really fun work environment.

Now that we’re open, we use flyers and other marketing materials from head office to keep people up to date about our sales and promotions. Miles and I still work together with marketing and with flyers, too, and I’m doing my best to reach out to the community. On the Canada Day long weekend, I participated in Westside Daze, a festival in West Kelowna, by placing an ad in the local newspaper. Outreach like this is really important in West Kelowna (or Westbank as the locals call it), because it is a very tight-knit community. A lot of my customers know each other (and talk to each other) so there’s a lot of potential word of mouth advertising, more so than in a larger city. People are very proud to live here. As someone who lives across the bridge in Kelowna, it has been very interesting to see the differences and get to know a new community.

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