Eden Exchange: Hello Peter, thank you for the opportunity. Can we start by asking you about your professional background, and what your current role is at Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses?
Peter Collins: I have been working in retail franchising for 20 years with a main focus on Recruitment and Property. I have been working with Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses for the last three years across both these areas as Franchise Recruitment Manager.
Eden Exchange: Can you describe for us what Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses is and what it’s point of difference is?
Peter Collins: We are a 118 year old business that is under the direction of the 4th generation of the original Plarre family. Our points of difference include:
- Zero royalties
- Zero marketing feed
- No in store baking or preparation
- Fresh, not frozen products delivered to your store 7 days per week
- Ranked #1 Food Franchise for Ten Thousand Feet survey in 2018
Eden Exchange: Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses has been voted as the #1 Food Franchise in 2018. What does that mean to you as a Recruitment Manager?
Peter Collins: We are proud of the fact that our franchisees are strong believers in our brand and the fact that we have been listen in the Top Ten for the last five years shows we are on the right path.
Eden Exchange: On your website you describe yourselves as “foodies at heart”, what do you mean by that and does that mean anyone enquiring about a franchise needs to be a foodie?
Peter Collins: Whilst we can train franchisees on all the technical aspects of our business, we look for people who have a passion and affinity with our products – “foodies at heart”. Our customers recognise us for the outstanding level of service they receive which comes from Franchisees who are 100% invested in the business.
Eden Exchange: Your profile also states that any new franchisees don’t need to have a baking or patisserie background. Why is that? And what do they need to bring to the bakers table?
Peter Collins: We make everything in-house so our franchisees only need to focus on excellent customer service. The only item they need to prepare is the coffee and our team of Barista Trainers will ensure that they are serving the highest quality.
Eden Exchange: What do you think is a strength in the business that any new franchisee can depend on when joining the business? Is there a signature offering other than the signature baking?
Peter Collins: Having worked across a variety of brands I believe our franchisee support network and underlying family values set us apart. The fact that we rely on franchisees purchasing our products to survive keeps the franchisor extremely honest in pricing and product innovation.
Eden Exchange: Does Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses have a method of fitting a new franchisee to the right location? What is your intelligence site picking method and how does it work?
Peter Collins: We have a combination of personal industry experience, external leasing consultants, internal benchmarks and independent geotechnical reports when assessing sites. The franchisee needs to have the right traits to match the local demographic and potential performance of the site as well as living within 30 minutes of the store.
Eden Exchange: The business was based on a dedicated family and their values. Do you have any families running franchises together? Is Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses a business that welcomes franchising families?
Peter Collins: We have a large number of families involved in the stores as well as in our Bakehouse facility. Some of these are across generations as well. We also have a family that has representation in both the Bakehouse and a franchisee store.
Eden Exchange: As the Recruitment Manager, what are you looking for in a new franchisee and others looking to be a part of the business?
Peter Collins: Our stores perform best when a franchisee can commit 100% of their time to the store. Family support is also important along with a passion for food retail and an affinity with our products are other key criteria to bring to the table.
Eden Exchange: Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses franchisees were recently voted the #1 most passionate franchisees in Australia, across all sectors. What makes your franchisees so passionate about the business to be recognised in such a way?
Peter Collins: Our franchisees and their staff are regularly invited to tour our Bakehouse to witness first hand the passion our staff have in making their products. This flows through to the store level and over the counter to our customers.
Eden Exchange: What is the training process for new franchisees? Does it cover anything they need to know before their opening or is it more of a practical learn as you go approach with trainers on site?
Peter Collins: Whilst we have a comprehensive 4 week pre-opening Training Program, we understand that there is still a lot to learn. In consideration of this we have a follow up 6 month intensive program that focuses on one part of the business each week for that period. This allows franchisees to break down the business into smaller parts whilst still running the store.
Eden Exchange: What is a POD Group session and why is it an important part of your training package?
Peter Collins: POD’s are regular meetings/events that involve clusters of stores in defined regions. These are used to network and facilitate new product and campaign releases. They often involve ‘road trips’ to other stores to further learn from other franchisees in their region.
Eden Exchange: What is the G.U.E.S.T service standards training course offered?
Peter Collins: G.U.E.S.T is an integral part of our Training Program. It stands for:
- Greet: Customers are to be acknowledged within 10 seconds of entering a store
- Understand: Get to know your customers needs
- Educate: Let them know of specials and products
- Satisfy: Meet their needs and exceed their expectations
- Thank: All customers need to be handed their receipt and thanked for their business
Eden Exchange: Online training platforms are a big thing in today’s markets. Does Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses have its own online training and support platform? How does it work and is it easy to use?
Peter Collins: In 2018 we released our Online Training Program. This is incorporated into new franchisee training as well as new staff coming in at store level. The program can be used on handheld devices so can be completed anywhere you have Wifi.
Eden Exchange: What do you love about the business and what advice do you have for anyone looking to join the Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses team?
Peter Collins: Ferguson Plarre are a true family business with those values passed down from Ralph, who is now a Board Member to his sons Steve and Mike who are now running the business. The 5th generation of Plarres can be regularly seen running through the offices and helping out in the Bakehouse ensuring the future of the business. People looking to join the team need to embrace this environment and hold these values.
Eden Exchange: Thanks again for your time Peter, it was great talking to you.
About Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses
Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses has always been and still is a family owned and operated business. We have a long & proud history dating back to the 1800’s. The Ferguson Plarre story commenced in 1901 and both families established themselves as household names in Melbourne. The Plarre family still actively own and manage the day to day running of the business from baking through to retail shop design, operations and bakery franchising. The family continue to embrace their forefather’s commitment to quality products, service and innovation.
- TOP FRANCHISE AWARDS 2015 Ranked in the top 2 Food Franchises & top 10 overall
- TOP FRANCHISE 2014 Best Food Franchise & top 10 overall
- 2015 VICTORIAN BAKING SHOW Best decorated cake 2 years in a row & Best Sausage Roll
- 2009 GOLD BANKSIA AWARD WINNER