25-Year-Old Pet Supplies Plus Franchisee Already Has 6 Stores!
This is part 2 of our profile of Cole Taylor Weber, who, at just 25, already is a 6-unit franchisee of Pet Supplies Plus generating an annual revenue of more than $11 million. Find part 1 here.
Business philosophy: My business philosophy is simple. How do you motivate your people to do what you need them to do to create results? You may be running your business, but your people are the ones driving the business one way or another.
Management method or style: A coaching method. We are always coaching on how we can do things better, how we can motivate better, how we can get 1% better every day!
Greatest challenge: When I took over my role while finishing my senior year of college, a lot of my employees were older than I was, and I had to earn their respect and trust. Once I did that, I could start pushing the business in the right direction.
How do others describe you? I think as a high-energy and happy-go-lucky guy. No matter what is going on behind the scenes in work or my personal life, I go to work to motivate, smile, and have fun.
One thing I’m looking to do better: I am always looking for ways to improve. I always thought I was good with stress until some big business obstacles were thrown my way. I think stress management during certain times is something I can improve on.
How I give my team room to innovate and experiment: I encourage my employees to be creative and come up with cool ideas. My employees are 100 times more creative than I am, so I want them to bring those ideas to fruition.
How close are you to operations? I am in it 100% of the time. Even when I am not in the stores I am always on call and checking in on everyone.
What are the two most important things you rely on from your franchisor? Pricing on products and day-to-day operational support.
What I need from vendors: The better that stocks and pricing are from vendors, the happier my customers and margins are.
Have you changed your marketing strategy in response to the economy? How? Yes. We used to pound the pavement handing out coupons pre-Covid because it was the cheapest way to market. Now that we have some cash, and to be more cautious with Covid, we have taken a more targeted digital approach with Facebook and Google ads.
How is social media affecting your business? Social media is the fun part of our business where we get to show off all the great things about Pet Supplies Plus. Cute puppy comes in, post it. Doing a litter drive for a local rescue, post it. People love our social media and we have fun with it. We are consistently tops in the company in that category.
How do you hire and fire? We take an always hiring approach. We are always looking for new talent. We have a lot of paper applications come in, but also post a lot to Indeed. Luckily, being in the pet industry makes us more of an employer of choice, so for a retail store we have very little turnover. If we have to fire someone, I always do it in person, get straight to the point, wish them the best, and always have a witness.
How do you train and retain? We always train people with what we call our star players. The best person in each store on register is training on that. The best person with pet nutrition is training on that. As far as retaining goes, we cannot always pay the best, so to keep our people around we have to create the best environment to work in.
How do you deal with problem employees? Communication. Communication. Communication. I think 99% of problems can be resolved by having a conversation and talking it out.
Fastest way into my doghouse: Not doing everything you can to make a customer happy!
Annual revenue: $11 million.
2022 goals: $14 million.
Growth meter: How do you measure your growth? Sales, sales comps, transaction counts, customer satisfaction, and number of units.
Vision meter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? In 5 years, I want to take a more hands-off approach and have more statically placed key players so I have more time to work on a family. In 10 years, I want to have at least three to four different multi-unit franchise groups under my wing. I want to diversify.
How is the economy in your regions affecting you, your employees, your customers? The economy is always going to be changing, but something that has always stuck with me is that successful people find ways to succeed in all circumstances.
Are you experiencing economic growth in your market? Yes.
How do changes in the economy affect the way you do business? You must always think on your feet in business. You must make these decisions every single day to stay ahead.
How do you forecast for your business? I do monthly projections based on the past year, and a sales increase based on the store tenure.
What are the best sources for capital expansion? Relationships with a lot of bankers. You need to network with as many as you can because every bank lends a little bit differently.
Experience with private equity, local banks, national banks, other institutions? Why/why not? We have always used local banks because you can have more conversations with them and sell your vision and yourself. It is very hard to do that with these national guys. We have done some private equity, but we try to stay away from it because we don’t want to give up equity or pay a higher interest rate.
What are you doing to take care of your employees? At the end of the day, it’s all about being a good person and treating your people right. Do the little things, buy them pizza, run fun little contests. Make them to work for you!
How are you handling rising employee costs (payroll, minimum wage, healthcare, etc.)? You must become more efficient and find ways to drive top-line sales without increasing labor.
How do you reward/recognize top-performing employees? We do an employee of the month where they get a plaque with their name on it and a $25 gift card. We also do a lot of handwritten pats on the back when an employee does something good. Those go a long way.
What kind of exit strategy do you have in place? I want to continue to grow this brand and others, but always watch the market on when to sell.
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