FRANCHISING STARS: 10 Minutes with FitChip’s Jackie Dihm & Kaye Craddock

Posted on by Mark Fernandez

In this installment of FRANCHISING STARS, we are privileged enough to interview Jackie Dihm and Kaye Craddock, the two Managing Directors of the hugely successful and ever expanding franchise FitChips.

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Tell us about how FitChips was conceived:

Ten years ago the new era of healthier fast food was just beginning and we were inspired by the idea of finding a better alternative to the world’s favourite snack : chips!  

What makes FitChips different from other chips and fries?

FitChips are lightly coated in cholesterol-free vegetable oil and then air-fried in our specially designed ovens which cook the chips in an intense heat for 3 minutes.  This effectively adds the ‘sizzle’ without the need to immerse in oil and add extra fat.  The end product has 70% less fat and 50% less calories than the average fast food chip.

What is the biggest challenge right now in your particular business and the sector you trade in?

Everyone in retail will tell you that the challenge is to remain viable in a sector that is undergoing major changes with online shopping and the mix of retail-to-food offerings.
This has prompted some food businesses to look outside the traditional shopping malls or to share space within them by co-branding with other compatible retailers.

What is the key driver for customer loyalty and how are FitChips attracting loyal customers?

Great taste, every time!  90% of our sales are chips (with dips, of course).  When we started, a lot of people told us we needed a greater range of products, but we have focussed on making Australia’s favourite fast-food snack as tasty and healthy as possible.  Our unique packaging and 13 awesome dips are another reason we have such a loyal following of FitChippers.

What is going to be the focus for FitChips this financial year?

As well as supporting our local stores, we will continue to look for opportunities for the FitChips brand nationally and internationally.    We will also be looking forward to growing our relationship with Subway, who have introduced FitChips into over 100 stores in WA & SA and have the option to take FitChips worldwide within their network, so that is clearly an exciting prospect for both companies.

What qualities do you look for in a prospective franchisee and how does that tie in with FitChips brand?

The ideal business partner is personable, organised, enthusiastic, is a good communicator and has a sense of humour!  A willingness to be involved in the day-to-day running of the business and great customer service skills are essential.Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date and why?

Describe your ideal franchisee.

A great person with a positive outlook and integrity.   They should be goal-oriented and keen to learn and improve in all areas of their business, willing to ask for help and make suggestions.  It’s a true partnership, so we are working together for mutual success.

How do you benchmark franchisee success?

We consistently review and analyse so we have a current snapshot of how the stores are performing in key areas:
Revenue & Expenses – analysis of figures, compilation of averages and ranking of results.
Staffing – evaluation of rosters, staff levels and skills training.
Operations & procedures – assessing efficiencies, conformity and compliance.
Standards – We monitor with Customer Feedback boxes in every store and monthly mystery shopping to ensure consistency with quality product, customer service and the FitChips brand.

Define ‘success’ in five words.

Persistence, Persistence, Persistence …..and Humour!

Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date and why?

We have met some incredible people on our FitChips journey who have offered guidance and encouragement and shared their knowledge.   We have always been willing to listen to advice, seek out expertise and take on board what is relevant to us.

What is your favourite FitChips dip?

Kaye:   Everyone’s favourite – Garlic Aioli

Jackie:  I can’t resist a double dip – Rich Gravy and Mango Mayo is a current addiction!

About Jackie & Kaye

http://www.fitchips.com.au

Jackie Dihm
After graduating from Aberdeen Business School, Jackie lived and worked in London for a number of years before moving back to Perth.  During a long career with British Airways, she held both frontline and administrative roles in airport operations.  She was involved in menu selections and presentations for British Airways when it introduced the “Healthy Choice” menu on their flights in what was the forerunner to a global industry trend.  Frontline positions have equipped her with considerable experience in dealing with the public and supervisory roles in later years have involved personnel handling, recruitment and training.  A period working as a Weight Loss Counsellor for Jenny Craig gave her an insight into the growing problems of the western diet!

Kaye Craddock
Originally studying a NZ Certificate in Commerce Kaye achieved a Teaching Diploma in NZ.
Following early childhood education she moved into the adult training field in the telecommunications industry at GEC Plessey and then NEC.
A move to Optus at its inception, she held a number of positions in Retail and Dealer Sales Executive roles, gave her an in-depth understanding of the unique retail environment. She was also responsible for the introduction of the Allphones franchise business into WA.
Of particular relevance to FitChips is the valuable experience Kaye gained in the management, sales and marketing area, as Franchise Business Executive for Optus.

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