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EXECUTIVE INSIGHTS | Staff Reporter, Australia
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Find out the top three goals for the new general manager of Muffin Break

Here's how Natalie Brennan plans to further integrate the new brand direction of 'Good Goes In'.

QSR Media: What makes you excited about your position?

This newly created role means that all the departments are aligned and united in vision, working to achieve the same KPIs. In the current retail environment, our focus has to be on building sales and customer growth which ultimately influences the growth of brand. This role is critical in taking our franchisees on the same journey by creating the vision so that they are focused to energise and motivate their own teams. We need to collaboratively move forward with a consistent offering and message, aligned with our new branding of “A little good goes a long way”. This involves all our people in store, and the greater communities that our stores are part of. I have been one in an amazing team of people within Foodco for almost 17 years, and now I can lead the team through the challenging economic market with new and invigorating ideas.

QSR Media: What are your key business philosophies?

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel (Maya Angelou).

It all starts with the customer. For 28 years Muffin Break has focused on knowing who we are and what we do, ultimately to ensure that every customer has enjoyed their experience. In this role, my job is to make sure that this is the priority from the top, and that every person in Muffin Break understands our priorities. This includes all the head office departments, the franchisees, our suppliers and of course, the staff at the counter who interact with our customers.

Execute or go backwards.

So many great ideas get left on the shelf and never see the light of day, only because people didn’t have the courage to give it a go. My job is to give my teams that courage and freedom, not only to have a go but also to be ok if we fail. I always tell my people “you only have to be 80% right; 80% of the time”. This philosophy allows the space for trying, failing and learning – which in turn moves us forward. Of course we always strive for 100% (and generally get it) but what I find is when people are striving for perfection, they either take too long to achieve, or fail to move forward at all.

QSR Media: What three goals are you focused on?

The first goal is to continue to empower our franchisees and their teams to create greater connections with their customer base and local communities, welcoming them into the store like we would family members into our home. This ultimately drives our customer growth and builds sales, being our primary focus.

Building and increasing our customer count and sales, ensures my second goal of franchisee profitability. This then ultimately leads to the third goal, which is to strengthen the brand by opening more Muffin Break sites.

QSR Media: What long-term changes are you planning on?

The long-term plans for Muffin Break will focus on further integrating our new brand direction of Good Goes In. It encompasses the physical through packaging, branding and our new store design. But more importantly reaching further into our communities and becoming a part of their lives by empowering our franchisees and their teams to offer the very best service and experience with each of our customers that visit us.

Beyond the current changes, we are currently working on an online ordering system to create a unique experience for our customers to order and collect their food and beverage items. It is quite an exciting initiative for us and a new offering for our customers to engage with.

QSR Media: What previous positions have prepared you for this one and how?

I grew up in a family of small business owners; my Dad had commercial bakeries and my Mum & Stepdad owned a pest control business. Working in those businesses as a child and teenager taught me the basics of everything I know today. The importance of understanding the mechanics of all aspects of business, specifically cash flow, marketing, debt collecting and most importantly the need for work life balance and how it affects the family as a whole.

I started my career in the franchise sector at almost 15 years old when I worked for a McDonalds franchisee with three stores. Although I did study to be a teacher, I never taught in the traditional sense. Though in hindsight, it prepared me for the first 10 years of my career where I held operational training roles in large multisite hospitality companies that included restaurants, pubs, clubs & QSR’s. I’ve since trained thousands of people, leading, mentoring and inspiring along the way. My position as “mother” to twin 5 year old boys has taught me organisational and negotiation skills I never knew I had in me. Negotiating contracts is easy compared to getting 2 boys off Nintendo to eat their broccoli!

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