What this Bakers Delight franchisee now knows about people management
The nitty gritty of people management can make or break a small business. Yet just like everything else in life it can be learned.

The first year was tough, says Bakers Delight franchisee Mark McGuinness. But, McGuinness believes he got through those tough 12 months and created a thriving business by developing his own management style, which involved getting his hands dirty, not sitting behind a desk.

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a worker,” says McGuinness. “I still do everything with my staff that they do,” he says. “If you lead by example and show you are passionate about your business your staff will be too.”

‘Active tastings’ are an important part of the Bakers Delight way, for example. McGuinness encourages staff to go above and beyond the basics of selling to customers who walk into the shop. By stepping outside the store with samples for passers-by to try, he encourages staff members to remember to do it as well.

Some of McGuinness’ other learned-by-experience people management and talent sourcing tips for new business owners include:

Get creative

McGuinness isn’t a baker by trade and mined his network for ideas about recruiting and retaining bakers, who are hard to come by. These days instead of interviewing potential bakers, McGuinness invites them in for a three-hour trial to see if they can cope with 3:00-4:00am starts. If the potential recruits survive the trial, he interviews them. It’s a good way to spot quality talent.

Build your network

Build up your own network of collegial business owners or get out and join business associations, professional groups and networking organisations. For McGuinness this was easy because the franchise has a ready-made support network for owners where they can swap notes. Every few months local Bakers Delight owners get together for an organised networking event along with their regional manager to swap tips and tricks and work through any issues the industry or individual stores are facing.

Continue to upskill

Whatever business you are in it’s essential to keep learning. That might involve an online course in your own time or periodic workshops. McGuinness does in-house training whenever there’s a new module available, or sometimes he retakes an old module in subjects such as People Skills, Recruiting Staff, Train the Trainer, and Staff Performance. Whenever he retakes a course there are always a few things he has forgotten. “That five per cent is the icing on the cake,” he says. Training can also be a perk for staff. McGuinness regularly sends his front of house manager and head baker on courses, which both upskill them and provide a perk.

Learn about the law

Employment law can be a minefield for new business owners who have many competing pressures. Common mistakes can be costly, but less likely to happen if you get good legal advice. It’s really important to know what’s not only reasonable but legal when it comes to recruitment and people management.

Work/life balance

For McGuinness “me time” means family time with his wife, his six-year-old and two pre-schoolers. After several years of working through the weekends he now takes alternate Sundays off as well as time in the week. McGuinness believes work/life balance and an enjoyable lifestyle is a fair trade off with a higher wage bill.

McGuinness says the hard work to get on top of the recruitment and management has really paid off. His store was a failing bakery before he bought the Bakers Delight franchise. His staff are so passionate that the businesses has been growing 10 per cent year on year.