The chain’s Central Station store manager shares lessons in turning things around.
Ria Sibabiat’s Krispy Kreme career started out with a team member role in their Sydney International Airport site in 2006. Eight years and a couple of new roles later, the site closed and she was transferred to their Mascot site where the chain’s produces its doughnuts.
She worked there for a couple of years when they offered her the Assistant Manager position. However, a bigger opportunity also came.
“Only after three days in this position an opportunity opened up for me to manage the Central [Station] store in 2017. It was a bittersweet moment for me because I had to leave for the second time another team I’ve come to love,” she told QSR Media.
Taking over the Central Station site in the CBD, she tells us, was a steep climb.
“Well before I took over Central site, the store hit a post-opening slump. After the hype of the first month of opening, the team needed strong direction to focus on store experience but the previous store manager was facing challenges, including a lack of customer awareness about the store. They tried sampling, deals and special offers which worked temporarily but they couldn’t maintain it,” she explained.
Three focus areas to turn things around
To properly turn things around, Ria says she had to focus on three things: communication, training and focus on awareness.
“We agreed on ways of communicating focusing on open communication,” she said, citing that she updates the team of the store’s performances weekly and letting the team know that she is available for staff if they need to talk to her.
Ria also looked to their ‘cousin’ store in Auburn, which was lauded by the company for being one of their top performers.
“We established a positive and fun culture at work. The one thing the team worked hard on was the vibe of the store, this led to a warmer and more welcoming vibe and that the team would go above and beyond for customers,” she added.
Extra training was also provided to the team, from making coffee and providing “excellent” customer service. “We focussed on this to give a better service to our customers,” she said.
On awareness, Ria says she worked with her area manager and with the chain’s marketing team to conduct three weeks of sampling outside the store and at a nearby university.
“The store became a lot more noticeable with few store layout tweaks such (as) outdoor-branded flags and menus for increased visibility,” she said.
Ria accepting the 'Squad of the Year' award at the QSR Media Sandhurst Conference & Awards.
‘I think I gained respect from the team via leading by example’
The store’s hard work paid off, with the chain reporting that the Central Station store has gone from a “bottom store” in the Krispy Kreme portfolio to a top performing store over the course of a year with a 50% sales growth over the last 12 months ending April 2019. Traffic increased by over 30% at the same time.
The store grew turnover by 47% and customer count by 31% in a single year compared to the year prior, achieving the highest year-on-year growth in same store coffee sales, beating 2017 by 12.5%. (Ria and her team were recognised at the recently-concluded QSR Media Sandhurst Conference & Awards, winning the ‘Squad of the Year’ award.)
Ria reflects on lessons learned in her leadership role.
“As a store manager, I was present and hands-on all the time and was in regular communication with the team. I think I gained respect from the team via leading by example, working hard and showing them they can be a better version of themselves. Plenty of patience and not being afraid of making mistakes and aiming for the goals you set (is also needed). Lastly, build strong relationships with all departments in the company,” she said.
Apart from the Central store, Ria is also the store manager for the chain’s site in Chatswood. She is now with Krispy Kreme for 12 years.
“I was looking for a job in Events Management but after nine months of unsuccessful job searching, I bumped into a friend who happened to work at Krispy Kreme; I was on the bus heading home after what I thought was another failed job interview when I bumped into a high school friend I haven’t seen in three years,” she said.
“There we were on the bus exchanging three years of stories. This friend listened and it just happened that her store was looking for someone full time. I jumped at the opportunity, smashed the interview and 12 years later here I am.”
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