While the coronavirus pandemic has created myriad challenges, Wiltshire Farm Foods franchisee Anita Amesbury-Page has made sure her business is fighting fit
Relatively new to the Wiltshire Farm Foods franchise, Anita Amesbury-Page purchased the business in December 2019. With a background in finance, her previous management experience has stood her in good stead for running the business.
Anita explains: “It was important for me to set a structure and ensure a robust, accountable follow-up was in place. It also helps to keep the team focused, which was especially important as our goals were set at 10 per cent growth for the year.”
Although this growth rate felt ambitious at the time, nobody could have predicted the COVID-19 outbreak and the huge effect this would subsequently have on sales across the Wiltshire Farm Foods franchise network. Anita laid the groundwork ahead of the pandemic, conducting interviews from Canada while on holiday in preparation for her return to the UK mid-March.
“As an organised individual, forward thinking is one of my strengths and I believe this placed me well for the challenges that lay ahead. The business has grown 38.3 per cent in the last 13 weeks and our network position has gone from 60th in December 2019 to second for cash growth out of 81 franchisees.”
Achieving this impressive result wasn’t, however, without its challenges. Issues with repairs meant that three out of her seven vehicles weren’t roadworthy. Wiltshire Farm Foods was able to provide Anita with a new van at the beginning of the pandemic, which helped tremendously, but then came the inevitable staff shortages.
“We’ve had many temporary staff in and out of the business during this time,” Anita says. ”To ensure I protected my team I instigated a robust interview process, which was emailed to candidates prior to them being invited to the premises. We also set standards for the staff on their attention to detail to ensure we could maintain our excellent customer services levels as best as possible.”
Teamwork is key
The secret to success during the pandemic, Anita stresses, has been teamwork: “I operate the business as I would like to be treated, which is with respect and inclusion where possible for changes and this empowers the team to do well. “Making them feel appreciated, with personalised Easter eggs and days off for birthday celebrations, are small gestures that mean a lot. We have had amazing cards from our customers and I’m proud of my team for stepping up to the plate during this challenging time.”
Raising the brand’s profile
During this period, Anita also recruited two marketing executives to raise the brand’s profile even further at this busy time.
Support from the company’s central public relations team has also placed Wiltshire Farm Foods firmly in the media spotlight, with both regional and national opportunities secured. These have included appearances on Good Morning Britain, BBC Radio Wiltshire, BBC3, BBC Business and Sky News, all of which increase awareness of how Wiltshire Farm Foods is making a difference.
At a glance Wiltshire Farm FOods
Number of franchised outlets:
Locations of units:
for an average sized franchise, you would typically need £150,000 in personal funds, plus a business loan to purchase the business and all necessary assets.
Minimum required capital:
personal funds required across the range of current franchise opportunities ranges from £90,000-£200,000.
Andy Turner, head of franchise recruitment and mobilisation. email@example.com franchise.wiltshirefarmfoods.com
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