How this resilient franchisee bounced back from disaster
When a devastating flood swept through Lismore back in 2017, and crashed through the local Red Rooster store, franchisee Stephen Russell didn’t know if his business would survive. Incredibly, the outlet was soon open for business thanks to an amazing outpouring of support from the company and community.
Introducing Stephen Russell – Red Rooster Franchise Partner in Lismore, NSW
Here, Stephen recalls those challenging days and talks about giving back to the community.
What’s been the biggest hurdle you’ve faced and how did you get back on your feet?Last year, our store went underwater due to a major flood in Lismore. It was a scary time, we thought we’d lost the business. However, we re-opened just a week and a half later. We cleaned it up, got equipment from other Red Rooster franchisees around the country as well as from the main office. Without that and the help of the community we probably would have shut up shop. It was amazing how fast we were running again.
That sounds very harrowing, did the experience make you more resilient?
Yes. I think resilience and hard work are two fundamental keys to success and problem solving. That along with good interpersonal skills. As a business owner you need to be able to understand how to work with people, listen to their needs and be able to teach them. One piece of advice I’ve been following recently is, ‘a win without fighting is best’, from The Art of War by Sun Tzu, it really rings true.
Did the flood make you want to give back to the community?
It did – we currently sponsor a local homeless shelter which has expanded over the years. Every year they put on a lunch for the homeless people in the community which we have always proudly supported and provided for.
So how did you come to be in the area originally?
I was born and bred in Brisbane before moving south. Currently, I live in Lennox Head in NSW and have four kids. I really moved to Lennox Head to surf more and work less. I haven’t quite gotten the balance I’d like but I’m hoping one day I’ll be able to just surf!
resilient | people-person | funny
What career path led you to Red Rooster?
I began life as a labourer making underground fuel tanks, then travelled around surfing. When I returned to Brisbane in 1979 I became a kitchen hand at one of the first big Red Rooster stores in Queensland. Eventually, I worked my way up to Queensland state manager, then did the role for the Northern Territory and Victoria. However, I always wanted to be a business owner, so I bought my first store 15 years ago – the first Red Rooster outlet in NSW. I also used to own the Ballarat store and my brother owns a few Queensland stores as well so it’s become a family affair.
How do you see Red Rooster developing in years to come?
Exponentially. The three-year marketing plan we’re about to launch into is very promising. Home delivery is still improving and growing so that’s key. We were one of the first stores in NSW to take this on as a trial and it’s been a really important aspect of our business being able to run our own home delivery services. We started through Menulog and we then added our own Red Rooster platform which has been very successful.
Has the noise around the franchise industry this year made an impact on your business?
The main result was that a lot of our staff were nervous about their future, so it took a lot of effort to reassure and inform them about the situation. Customers were also concerned, but we managed to reassure everyone that it wasn’t affecting our business.
Any tips for people looking to buy a franchise?
Go into it with your eyes wide open, jump in and work hard. You need to be enthusiastic, motivated and passionate to want to do it and succeed.
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