Aanhouer wen!

Perseverance pays off, as the franchisor of 3@1 Business Centre can testify with their experience in opening their first outlet in Mauritius during lockdown…

“It was late February 2020, just before South Africa’s first nationwide lockdown, when we received an invaluable franchise enquiry to open a 3@1 Business Centre in Mauritius.

By mid-March 2020 all had agreed on the way forward. We had previously opened 3@1 Business Centres successfully in Namibia, Zambia, and Uganda, so in our minds opening in Mauritius would be straightforward. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown kicked in and both South Africa and Mauritius shut down. The months flew by and everything was on hold.

However Ashleigh Erasmus, our tenacious prospective franchisee, would not give up. She was determined to open her 3@1 Business Centre franchise on the island come what may. Mauritius is a small island, so choice locations were difficult to find during the pandemic. After badgering local centre managers, a prime site was secured at Cascavelle Shopping Centre, on the West side of the island, with availability in November. The question was how we were going to train and build the store when our team had to spend 14 days in quarantine.

Bumpy ride…

Banking on some sort of return to normality in December, the idea was to manufacture the complete shop in kit form in South Africa, pack the components into a container and then ship it all to Mauritius. Our team would then fly out, fit and install the store and complete Ashleigh’s training on-site. Well, this didn’t go quite to plan as both countries closed their borders with no flights in or out.

At the end of November, the shop contents were ready and destined to leave Gauteng. On the day that the container was due to be loaded on a ship in Durban, we were informed that the ship had to undergo emergency repairs of at least three weeks, meaning that the container would now arrive in mid-January 2021. Unbeknownst to us, the container was loaded onto another ship and arrived in Port Louis on the 17th of December – earlier than expected.

We were astounded since business everywhere was closing for the ‘season’. But determined as ever, our franchisee managed to find temporary storage space to off-load the container until the New Year.

As we were now under extreme pressure to meet the lease commencement date of 15th February, there was no choice but to inch forward, make alternate plans and make them fast.

The roll out…

Via Zoom and WhatsApp video calls, the 3@1 Project Manager devised a way in which local artisans could make sense of the pile of cut boards that would form the counters, front desk, and other shop-fitting and signage components to be assembled. Although the build-up process normally takes four days, the team managed to pull it off remotely in three weeks.

Ready for the next set-up and instalment phase, the 3@1 Operations manager spent many hours training Ashleigh remotely, meticulously going through the 3@1 Operations Manual, setting up the LAN and PC’s and ensuring that everyone was competent to operate the equipment and serve their customers.

After a year of unforeseen events, much incentivising and fantastic support from everyone, we are proud to announce that the 3@1 Business Centre franchise opened its’ doors at Cascavelle Shopping Centre in Mauritius in early March 2021.”

 

What goes into opening a franchise store

Aanhouer wen! If you persist you will succeed

3@1 Franchising is a wholly owned and operated South African company who is specifically promoting the brand for expansion into Africa. “We are already trading with 3, 3@1 Business Centres in Windhoek, 3 in Lusaka and a store in Kampala and now Mauritius,” confirms Chris Dunn, Managing Director of 3@1. “Obviously, our goal is to expand further in these countries as well as across South Africa where we have over 85 Business Centres trading.”

It was late February 2020, just before our first violent lockdown, when we received a great franchise enquiry to open a 3@1 Business Centre in Mauritius.

After a year and much incentivising, the store finally opened a few days ago at the Cascavelle Shopping Centre, Bambous, Mauritius. What a journey this has turned out to be for us as well as our franchise partner.

By mid-March 2020 all was agreed on the way forward. We had no qualm since we had previously opened 3@1 Business Centres in Namibia, Zambia, and Uganda so in our minds opening our first store in Mauritius wouldn’t be much of a problem or so we thought. Then the Covid-19 pandemic lock down kicked in. South Africa shut down, so did Mauritius, April, May, and June flew by and everything was on hold.

Ashleigh Erasmus, our tenacious prospective franchise holder would not give up, she was determined that she would open a 3@1 Business Centre on the island come what may. Finding a suitable site during a pandemic was a problem, Mauritius is a small island, so choice locations don’t come available at the flick of a finger. However, after driving local centre managers around the bend we landed a prime position at Cascavelle Shopping Centre, on the West side of the island. Our designated site would become available in November and the question was how the heck we were going to build a store there when our team, even if they could get to Mauritius, had to spend 14 days in quarantine. This was also a problem for our franchisee who was supposed to train in Johannesburg.

BUMPY RIDE…

We all hoped that things would get back to some kind of normality during December. The idea was to manufacture the complete shop in kit form in South Africa, then put the lot into a container, ship it all to Mauritius, where our team could fly out to fit out, install the store and complete Ashleigh’s training on site. Well as you will remember, December was a disaster. Both countries closed their borders with no flights at all. The shop contents were destined to depart Gauteng at the end of November. The day the container was to be loaded on a ship in Durban we were informed the ship had to undergo emergency repairs. The container would be at least 3 weeks late now as it will have to wait for the ship to be repaired. We thought that would give us some breathing space as the container would now arrive mid-January 21 but, of course, that didn’t happen. Unbeknownst to us the container was loaded onto another ship, which arrived without warning in Port Louis on the 17th December. This left us gobsmacked since business everywhere was closing for the “season”.

Determined as ever, our franchisee, Ashleigh found temporary storage space so we could unload the container for the time being. In the meantime, we had time pressure now because we had a lease commencement date of 15th February, penalties were involved. There was no choice but to inch forward and we had to make a plan, and fast.

THE ROLL OUT…

The 3@1 Project Manager had sleepless nights as he worked out a way in which local artisans could make sense of a pile of cut boards that could be put together to resemble counters, front desk, plus a whole menagerie of shop fitting and signage components. Working with Zoom, WhatsApp video calls and using whatever tools he could, Edward pulled the build out off in 3 short weeks, this is normally a 4-day process, but the store was ready for the next phase of setup, and the equipment etc to be installed.

The 3@1 Operations Manager, spent many hours on Zoom and WhatsApp with Ashleigh training her on-line, going through the 3@1 Operations Manual meticulously and making sure that everyone could operate the equipment, setting up the LAN, PC’s via Anydesk until eventually the big day arrived, 3@1 Business Centre Cascavelle opened its doors.

Sadly, our biggest challenges were from South African and Mauritian customs whose bureaucracy drove our office manager nuts! She’s now wanting a trip to the local Mauritian beach to recover her sanity!

Source: The Franchise Association of South Africa Website