Insights from Franchisee Kiran Behl, Celebrating 15 Years with COBS Bread
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When speaking with Kiran, you immediately recognize and are comforted by the warmth in her voice, accompanied by her kind and humble demeanor. Having been with COBS Bread for 15 years, Kiran is proud that it is this approach to her life and her business has had a direct impact on her success as a franchisee, a mentor, a boss, and a connector.
“People have helped shape my business,” says Kiran, who shares that she is a nurturer, and a people-person. “When I say that the mission statement is people, it means my staff, my customers, and my community.”
Empowering Her Team
Not a lot of franchisees can say that in a span of 15 years they would have only had four production managers, and that typically her team leaders stay with her for over five years. “I think I set the tone from the initial interview,” says Kiran. “I know that when people are looking for a job, they are interviewing me, too. So I tell them that, and I believe that empowerment sets us both up for success.”
One of these production managers recently purchased a COBS Bread bakery of their own. “Their time with me [in the bakery] is a part of building a future- I hope it’s a stepping stone to their next endeavor.”
The Community “COBS Lady”
Kiran is recognizable throughout the community, partly due to her connection with her customers, and due to the work she has done with organizations in South Surrey and White Rock. She’s involved with Semiahmoo House and Peace Arch Hospital Foundation, among others. “I love my community. It’s where I live and where I work. I want to be involved.”
Recently, Kiran became more recognizable when she appeared on CTV promoting a Lower Mainland COBS Bread fundraiser for BC Women’s Health Foundation.
The Importance of Communication
It’s not always smooth “baking”; Kiran admits that mistakes were made along the way as a franchisee who was still in the learning process. Kiran fondly recalls the guidance provided by her then-Area Manager (now COBS Bread President), Aaron Gillespie. “He knows the business inside and out,” she adds. She remembered expressing to him in one of her first few years that she could never achieve a certain level of sales because the parking lot at in her shopping strip was too small and inconvenient for customers.
Aaron challenged Kiran on this belief when he pointed out that her sales on Christmas Eve exceeded the sales target she claimed to be elusive. “That simple statement of fact changed the way I thought about what I could achieve,” says Kiran. Now, many years later, her bakeries achieve these sales results on a regular weekend day.
Staying In Touch At All Times
“I’m always in touch with each of my staff members,” says Kiran. “It’s so important to be connected to people. Just being in touch lets them know you care, and that what they do matters.” Kiran also keeps a staff communication book that each employee needs to read at the beginning of their shift to ensure they are all on the same page as it relates to everything COBS.
Where It All Began
So, where was Kiran when she started this journey? “I was a single mom and I had just started a job downtown. I knew it wasn’t for me. I thought, ‘I need to be a business owner!'” Kiran stumbled upon COBS Bread in Willowbrook in 2005 and when she did, she was instantly intrigued. So much so, grabbed a coffee and stood outside observing the bakery for 4-5 hours. The next day, she contacted the support office to inquire about opening a franchise.
“I’ve been able to achieve so much because of being a business owner, and what I’ve done at COBS,” says Kiran, with great appreciation. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I wanted in a 9-5 job. I was facing a lot of challenges in my life, but I knew it was the right path for me.”
The rest, as they say, is 15 wonderful years of history.
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