Qa With Cheryl Kittson Franchise Development Administrator Of Great Canadian Dollar Store
How was your franchise originally conceived and started?
In 1991, after a long and successful career as a stockbroker, trust company founder and entrepreneur, Bud Walker & his wife Vivian bought a dollar store franchise concept fostered by two Saskatoon, Saskatchewan businessmen. Two years later Bud and Vivian started the Great Canadian Dollar Store and set up their head office on Vancouver Island, BC.
What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?
Bud and Vivian's vision was a network of bright, clean, friendly dollar stores a place where you would want to take your mother or grandchildren. Together with their family and energetic representatives across Canada, they succeeded in building a successful network of franchised stores. Our core values of fun, honesty, integrity, and respect are a reflection of who we are and have not changed over the past 20 years.
What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?
Do your values match that of the franchisor? In other words, are you the right fit for the franchise?
Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?
We strongly believe that our success dependents on the success of our franchise members. We offer our members guidance, networking, and opportunity. In fact, our motto is "Working Together for Success."
What makes your industry attractive?
It's hard to argue against buying items from a dollar store. People are always looking for value when spending their money. We call it a recession resistant business, a business that is not only fun to operate but can be hugely successful and profitable for the right people.
What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?
We search for people who are team players, and who are able to work with a proven system. Our franchise members don't necessarily need previous retail experience but our most successful people come to us with good business or management skills, are energetic and success oriented.
What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?
The franchise fee covers the mandatory training program, and grants the license to franchisees for operating under the name Great Canadian Dollar Store, using our trademarks, logos and promotional materials. Our royalties are paid on gross monthly sales and are charged for operational support to franchisee, and for their rights to operate the franchise unit.
How do territories work for your franchisees?
We do not give exclusive territories to any member, however we appreciate the hard work, commitment and time it takes to build a successful business and would not cannibalize an existing store by allowing someone else to open close by.
Why has your franchise model been successful?
Our model was introduced at a time when shoppers needed more reasonable alternatives to stores like Zellers and Wal-Mart. Great Canadian Dollar Store sells value, and our goal is to achieve Extreme Value where the cost versus quality of a given item is so compelling that it flies off the shelves.
Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?
A stronger presence in the Provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?
Do your research and when you think you've done enough, then do some more.
What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?
There is always a level of risk with new business, nothing is guaranteed so the potential franchisee must be comfortable with that risk level.
Can you explain your financial assistance?
We do not offer financial assistance.
On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?
Once a location is found (this can take anywhere from a few months up to a year) things go very quickly. Leaseholds improvements start (erecting slatwall, laying the tile floor, electrical & HVAC), and once that phase is complete, shelving is installed for the product. Product is then placed into the store which usually takes 10 days. Once all permits have been obtained, the store can open.
What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?
Our founder, Bud Walker was a very successful stockbroker and trust company founder.