Female Franchise Owner Shares Tips for Giving Your Business a Refresh – How to Pick Yourself Back Up After Failure
Even when you put your heart and soul in to something, things don’t always turn out how you planned. Finding the motivation to pick yourself back up and try again is not always easy, but it can be very rewarding in the long run, especially in business.
Chantelle Harder, multi-unit franchisee of Winmark – the Resale Company®, hit a wall early on in her career. In the early 2000s, Chantelle, her then-husband and his colleague formed one of the first companies to sell life-saving prescriptions online to U.S.-based customers. They were so successful that in 2005, Chantelle sold both of their shares to their business partner and in 2007 she remarried and grew her family to include four kids.
By 2009, Chantelle was ready to go back to work – but only for the right company. After experiencing the freedom of owning her own business, she was looking for something that fit her new lifestyle. That was when she discovered Winmark Corporation®, North America’s leading franchisor of the sustainable resale brands Plato’s Closet®, Once Upon A Child®, Play It Again Sports®, Style Encore® and Music Go Round®. As a parent herself, Chantelle was instantly drawn to Once Upon A Child’s resale concept of gently used children’s clothing and accessories. She recognized how desirable of a resource a store like this was in her community and knew local families would embrace it.
As perfect of a fit this venture was, Chantelle still had challenges. She experienced a tough first year in business – working 80-hour weeks and losing sales. Despite this downfall in her plan, Chantelle eventually found the right support system through both her employees and Winmark Corporation.
When starting a business, don’t expect for it to be an instant success, you have to learn the ins and outs while giving your customers time to learn about you and your company. Eventually, she was able to overcome her struggles and open two Plato’s Closet locations and an additional Once Upon A Child location – becoming a community staple.
Living by her mantra of “Asking for help isn’t a sign a weakness, but a sign of strength,” Chantelle has some tips for other entrepreneurs who may find themselves in the same situation she once was.
Hire Employees That You Can Grow With & Will Help Grow Your Brand
Your employees are your biggest cheerleaders. When it comes to hiring, hire those you see potential in to develop both personally and professionally alongside your business. Chantelle loves to take dedicated workers, many of whom are just starting their career, under her wing and give them the skills they need to eventually rise to management level. One of the most successful steps in growing her business has been the utilization of social media, which is key for reaching her target audience of Plato’s Closet, and her employees are perfect to entrust with social media responsibilities. Chantelle’s employees are able to interact with customers by posting some of the pieces they have for sale, feature their loyal customers, etc, keeping guests interested and coming through the door.
Bring the Mission Back to the Forefront of Your Business
When times are tough, remember why you started to begin with. Choosing to pursue something you are passionate about makes business operations much easier. However, it is equally important to ensure your employees and customers also feel that passion. When your employees stand behind the mission of the business with you, they are able to fulfill it wholly. Similarly, customers should also see and feel that impact when they walk into your store.
As a mother herself, Chantelle fell in love with Winmark’s resale concepts and knew they would be a great resource for other families in her community. She has even partnered with local facilities and agencies to provide clothing and supplies to families in need.
Seek Support from Others
Franchising gives new business owners more support than being an independent small business owner. Independent businesses may be able to get the support of the local chamber of commerce and community, but it’s not at the same level as franchisor support. Under Winmark’s franchise model, Chantelle received in-depth training and assistance from the second she was awarded her franchise, and still receives that support years later. She was able to meet other franchisees, learn which brand she wanted to branch out to, and ask for help from others who were once in her shoes.
“It was comforting when I was starting with Winmark that I could take the time I needed to decide if it was the right fit for me,” Chantelle said. “I’ve always preferred a collaborative approach to own and run a business, and that’s what you get with a franchise – it is incomparable to being an independent business owner.”
The moral of the story is that it is okay to ask for help when you and your business are struggling. Reaching out for help is not a weakness, but an asset to any business owner because utilizing your resources to improve your business is vital to continued success.
While the past two years have been challenging for many retail brands, Winmark’s resale brands Once Upon A Child®, Plato’s Closet®, Play It Again Sports®, Music Go Round® and Style Encore®, defied the odds and grew to meet the increasing demand for quality used, secondhand products.
Winmark – the Resale Company® is a nationally recognized franchising business focused on sustainability and small business formation. To learn more about Winmark and its franchise opportunities, visit winmarkfranchises.com.