From supermarkets to skincare: a unique franchise journey
The grocery business is one of the most lucrative sectors in New Zealand, not least in pandemic times. Read why Tauranga’s Ross McAinch traded in his Four Square to operate an appearance medicine clinic.
The grocery business is one of the most lucrative sectors in New Zealand, not least in pandemic times. So, why did Tauranga-based businessman Ross McAinch trade in his Four Square to operate an appearance medicine clinic? Ross reflects on his personal franchise journey across two vastly different industries.
We’ve all heard the tale of the trolley boy turned supermarket owner, and the financial renumeration that comes with climbing the grocery ladder to the top. However, my own personal journey through the grocery sector took an interesting turn when I decided to call time on my Four Square business to run a Caci clinic – an untraditional move that was dubbed potentially risky by some at the time.
I was 15 when I began working at my local New World in Whangārei. I didn’t think much of school at the time, so I decided to work part-time as a trolley boy instead. I was fortunate to have managers who really took me under their wing and showed me the ropes from a very young age. Foodstuffs have an in-house training programme which back then usually took about six years to complete, however with the support of those more senior staff, I was able to complete this in just three.
The training programme involves sitting diplomas and certificates in business management. Although I didn’t enjoy school, I thrived at this because it was all about on-the-job learning and applicable to real-life business situations. It offered a fantastic understanding of the key fundamentals, such as margins and gross profit, that are involved in running any type of business.
I was able to progress through the company fairly quickly from produce manager to grocery buyer to store manager, and was lucky enough to work for some very successful owner-operators who were also directors of Foodstuffs. This was the launchpad that ultimately helped me get into owning my own Four Square.
“Operating a franchise is the equivalent to being given a recipe – if you follow it closely, you know you will have a successful outcome.”
I can confidently say that owning a franchise is different to owning your own business. There are similarities of course, but it really is a completely different culture. Operating a franchise is the equivalent to being given a recipe – if you follow it closely, you know you will have a successful outcome. Rising through the ranks in a franchise system is a real advantage because by the time you’ve got to the level where you’re in charge of that recipe, you know already know it back to front. You understand not only how it works, but why it works so well.
After owning four different Four Squares and having worked at Foodstuffs for 27 years, my time in grocery came to an end in 2015 when I made the jump into the appearance medicine world of Caci. I’d been wanting a change from grocery for a few years prior and had been looking for something profitable that would give me a little more work-life balance. After decades of working seven-day weeks, late nights and public holidays, I was ready for something that offered more flexibility without compromising on business outcomes.
Time for a change
Foodstuffs gave me the tools to learn about running a business through a franchise system from a very young age, so when the opportunity came up, to take over Caci Mount Maunganui, I recognised straight away that this new franchise business model was a formula for success.
The first Caci clinic was opened in 1994 by founders, David and Jackie Smith and has since gone on to revolutionise the New Zealand beauty industry. Over the past 27 years, Caci has become one of the most trusted brands in the skin and appearance industry and is now the market-leader with 64 Caci clinics currently nationwide – all New Zealand owned and operated under their unique franchise model.
After steadily growing Caci Mount Maunganui for a few years, we took on Caci Hamilton in 2015. It had been through a couple of tough years at the time, but we were able to turn things around relatively quickly. Of the 64 clinics nationwide, Caci Hamilton is one of the top-performing in the country – something our team takes immense pride in.
To me, one of the most important aspects of a successful business is the people. It’s all about getting the right people in the right seats, and we have an extremely high performing team who have played a huge role in the success of the business. We have very close relationships with Elite and Wintec, the two industry training schools based in Hamilton, and we’re always keeping an eye on the very best upcoming talent. Retention and concession planning is also important when it comes to staff. Our aim to is to find good people, and then keep them for as long as possible by providing ample opportunities for progression throughout the business.
Six years on, our team has continued to take the business from strength-to-strength with high performing staff, an ever-growing list of happy clients and a healthy balance sheet. The Caci culture revolves around a franchise methodology that sets the strategy, defines performance metrics, and aligns the network of franchisees with company goals.
From a franchisee perspective, I think that this unique model works so well because it enables clinic owners such as myself to lean into the support that’s available and focus on the customer. At the end of the day, that’s always what matters most – no matter what type of business you’re in.