An Award-Winning Minit Gold Coast business becomes Franchisee of the Year due to winning team mentality
As a 21-year-old trainee with Mister Minit, Steve Whittard, had no idea that 33 years later he would be working with the same company and running a successful multi-site business. Recently, Steve was honoured with the prestigious Franchisee of the Year 2021 Award and title.
The Franchisee of the Year is nominated through rigorous criteria, including overall contribution to the brand and business, added value to others and the system, proactively involved in the community, provided exceptional customer service as measured through internal programs, developed themselves in leadership, and has outstanding trading results as measured by customer growth and sales growth.
CEO Mark Rusbatch says, “This award is a signal to the Mister Minit Network on what an outstanding franchisee looks like. They are someone that sets the standard and will be sought after for business and management advice.”
Steve puts his success down to his team and the people he works with. “Ultimately it’s about people. It’s a service business. Recruit the right people and invest back in the business. Hire for the culture of the business. Even if the applicants are fully qualified, if they aren’t a good fit, don’t hire them. Apart from working closely on a daily basis, our team share a lot of leisure time together outside of work, so we all need to get along,” says Steve.
Steve’s first job at the company was learning how to do shoe repairs and the basics of the business. Over a number of years as a supervisor, management positions also followed. These roles lead Steve to become the company’s first Franchise Manager, and set up the fundamentals of the Mister Minit franchise system, to transitioning into a National Property Management role, working on the leasing and construction of new stores.
Throughout his time with the company, Steve worked with many franchisees and noted how they changed their lifestyle to adapt it to their business. “I noticed how happy they were,” says Steve. “I’d meet them at award nights and they were such a great group of people who are passionate about what they do. I thought to myself – I have to give this side of the business a shot!”
Choosing to move from Sydney to the Gold Coast, Steve started with four stores. He now owns seven stores on the Gold Coast and a mobile service, and employs 18 people. “My plan was to build a business. It was never my intention to work in a shop when there were others that were more suited to the role. Before I started being a franchisee I wrote my business statement, which has been the driver for my business for the past five years. My purpose in owning a portfolio of shops is to build a team of highly motivated people with a winning mentality,” adds Steve.
Steve’s employees are from all walks of life scattered throughout the Gold Coast region who understand the importance of serving their local communities. “We have an incredible team of people working in the business who continually look at ways to further their skills and enhance the customer experience at the counter. They live our trueline of “Real People Fixing Problems” and I am extremely proud to be part of such a results driven group with a customer focused mentality,” says Steve.
“The last 18 months have no doubt been challenging for everyone. As a team we made the decision to stay open and service the needs of our customers during the early COVID-19 shutdowns. In fact, Mister Minit was one of the only specialty retailers that remained open in our precinct at Pacific Fair. The whole team felt it was important for us to be available for our customers.”
“Running a successful business can appear daunting. You have to know who your customer is, give them the best quality product or service at the right price to retain their loyalty, whilst recruiting, training and motivating your own team, keeping on top of expenses, complying with all the regulatory requirements, keeping up to date on government legislation and new developments in your industry segment, whilst watching your competitors and then finding time for your family and personal interests! While that can be very challenging, personally I find that if you keep it simple and just ask yourself – “If I was a customer or a team member, is that the way I would expect to be treated?” Then everything else is just part of the business game and the rewards can be great,” explains Steve.
Now running induction classes for other franchisees, Steve has a wealth of experience to share with businesses or those starting out. His number one piece of advice is to clearly articulate a goal and strategy you believe in. Are you looking to create wealth, or are you looking for a work-life balance? It is important to understand why you are getting into the business.
Steve’s top business tips to get the best out of your team include:
- Give them autonomy and let them make decisions
- Listen to your team and have open dialogues
- Be interested in them personally
- Be open and honest in your communication
- Be clear in your expectations – no surprises
- Be humble
- Put supporting structures in place to help your team
Success for Mister Minit can be summarised in one sentence – when a customer walks away from the counter with their problem solved by the team.
For more information, visit www.misterminit.com.au.
About Steve Whittard
Steve Whittard owns and operates seven Mister Minit Queensland stores at The Pines, Runaway Bay, Westfield Helensvale, Robina, Pacific Fair, Australia Fair, Westfield Coomera, as well as a mobile service.
About Mister Minit
Mister Minit is an international service brand, fixing problems since 1957, and operating in four countries, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. Mister Minit has over 330 stores throughout ANZ and South East Asia (SEA), and specialises in Shoe Repairs, Key Cutting, Engraving, Watch Service and Car Key and Remote Control duplication.