Even though I try to be at the bakery as much as possible, if I was ever unable to come in, I know my team would be able to handle it without me. I encourage them to make a lot of decisions on their own, even when I’m there. They have developed a great deal in just over a year.
I had a banner made that has the Cobs logo on it, as well as my mission statement for the bakery. It reads, “Be delightful.” The concept of ‘delight’ was something that resonated with me the second I started looking at Cobs (an extension of Australian franchise chain, Baker’s Delight) as a business opportunity. It became the underlying principle around which I’ve built my business.
I have the banner proudly displayed across a bulkhead in the production area. It’s just for staff to see before they start their shifts. My entire baking team knows the goal is to make the most delightful products we can, following the Cobs system and always striving for excellence in look and taste. Likewise, my sales team knows the goal is to be delightful with each and every customer who comes through the door. We aim to exceed their expectations on every visit.
The fact my team believes in this as much as I do means so much to me. They’ve absolutely embraced my passion for my business, for Cobs Bread and for what we can do and provide for Waterloo region. I could never say enough good things about them. They are amazing!
During training, I often heard I should expect a lot of turnover and I would be constantly hiring. That hasn’t been the case here—I still have the same team I did a year ago when we opened our doors. I did hire a couple of additional people after we opened to support our strong sales, but everyone from day one is still here.
The franchisor is also awesome. Cobs has a structure that will allow the company to grow—everything is in place for you as a franchisee, from information technology (IT) and human resources (HR) departments to supply chain management, so you don’t have to look externally for that help and support. The level of approachability of everyone in the network is amazing. There isn’t a single person you can’t just pick up the phone and call. They will answer your questions, guide you and help you in any way they possibly can.
I love being at the bakery! It has a really happy, positive, high-energy atmosphere and I thrive on that. I believe we created that dynamic from the very beginning. What’s more, my being on-site to the degree I am has allowed me to control costs and maximize profitability, which has put me in a position to expand and open a second location.
Expanding was always part of my game plan—when I was in the very early stages of discussion with Cobs, I told them I was interested in being a multi-unit franchisee. I wanted to ensure I ran a very strong, very controlled operation, so I would be able to jump on an opportunity to open another bakery, and that’s happened. The negotiations for our second location are still being finalized, but it will also be in Waterloo region at Kitchener, Ont.’s Fairway Plaza. There will likely be a relatively quick turnaround process to build out the bakery, so there’s the possibility we could be opening as early as October.
I am so proud of what my first Cobs has accomplished and excited for what bakery number two will accomplish and potentially bakery number three down the road. It has been a tonne of hard work and time, but it’s also been an extremely rewarding, positive experience. I’ve loved every minute of it.
Stephanie Steers is a franchisee for Cobs Bread based in Waterloo, Ont. For more, contact her via e-mail by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established in: 2003
Date of first franchise: 2006
Franchised/corporate units in Canada: 109
Investment range: $650,000 – $750,000
Initial franchise fee: $25,000