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Lesley Gillespie’s five tips for building a $564 million business

Cara Waters /

Bakers Delight is one of Australian franchising’s big successes, with the bakery now turning over $564 million a year.

The business is run by founders Lesley Gillespie and her husband Roger and when I got in touch with Lesley last week for SmartCompany’s list of top 30 female entrepreneurs she had some great advice to share with entrepreneurs.

I asked Gillespie for advice for female entrepreneurs but she was adamant that what she was saying applied to both men and women.

“If you are clear in the direction you wish to take and you have the support of your team, it is irrelevant if you are male or female, you will achieve your goal,” Gillespie says.

Here are her five tips for entrepreneurs.

1. Building a culture

“It is important to have the right team in place to foster a positive and productive working environment,” Gillespie says.

Bakers Delight reinforces its culture by holding “delightful sessions” with its staff.

The two-hour motivational sessions teach staff the importance of greeting and service routines, smiling and dealing with angry customers.

2. Evolving your business

“Continue to grow with your customer base. It is imperative that your product offering is always relevant,” she says.

The Gillespies have grown Bakers Delight from a one store business to a national franchise which is constantly creating new products to keep customers engaged.

3. The right people

“From support staff and franchisees to first-year apprentices, for us it is having the right people for every job,” Gillespie says.

While Bakers Delight has specifically gone after Gen Y franchisee recruits in recent years, the business is now focusing more on finding entrepreneurs that fit the organisation.

Fit is seen as more important than having a particular degree or experience.

4. Be part of your community

“Gaining a real connection with your customers and being able to give back on a daily business is the most satisfying part of operating a business,” says Gillespie.

Bakers Delight runs community programs like its “dough raiser” fundraising program.

5. Approach to challenges

Gillespie’s final piece of advice is how to approach challenges. She recommends not losing your cool.

“Use your tact to handle situations with a cool, calm and measured approach,” says Gillespie.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is a former SmartCompany editor. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter for the Financial Times' website and worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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