PartyMAX Franchise - CEO, Jim Sallas

Date: DEC 16th, 2014

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Our CEO, Jim Sallas, has over 30 years of leadership experience working across of range of industries for first tier organizations. These include Packaged Goods with General Foods, Retail with Canadian Tire, and Financial Services with both CIBC and TD Bank. Most recently, Jim was a Senior Vice President with TD, responsible for a $20 Billion Dollar portfolio of retail businesses.

The fact is though, that Jim’s career truly started more than 40 years ago, working the cash register at his Dad’s Convenience Store at the age of 7. “I worked with my Father every Saturday from 8am to 11pm until I was well into my teens, where I learned much about the reality of running a small business and what it takes to be successful. Later on, when my father became a franchisee in the restaurant industry, I saw first hand how easy it is for the franchisee to view the franchisor, not as a friend but as the enemy. Where the franchisee doesn’t feel as if he/she is working to enrich themselves but rather to enrich the franchisor.’

Our franchisees know the virtue of hard work but we must also recognize that work / life balance is very important. What is the point of making lots of money if you don’t have time to spend with your family? Time is the most precious resource each of us has. This is why we have designed our store systems and procedures to make the business very simple to run. Our franchisees can not only work hard but work smart. Our systems and processes are designed to reduce administration and to make providing exemplary customer service as easy as possible. We want our franchisees to have very successful businesses and the time to enjoy the fruits of their labour with their family and friends. After all, it would be sad to own a party store and not have the time for some parties of your own !

BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the PartyMAX concept.

Jim Sallas: PartyMAX is a retail store party supply business. It’s a terrific concept for a whole host of reasons including the competitive situation in Canada, the simplicity of the business model, and the relatively low cost of entry.

BTB: How and when did you become involved with PartyMAX franchise?

JS: I got involved with PartyMAX about a year ago. Peter Kerr and I have a long history of working together and when he described the idea of turning PartyMAX into a franchise concept I was instantly eager to get on board.

BTB: What was your background prior to joining PartyMAX franchise?

JS:I first worked in retail at the age of 7, assisting my dad in his convenience store. I worked there every Saturday for years, subsequently he became a franchisee in the restaurant sector and I assisted him with that. So I grew up in retail and have first-hand knowledge of franchisee / franchisor relations and what can make that relationship be great. I obtained an MBA and then joined the corporate world. I have worked for a variety of companies, including General Foods, CIBC, Canadian Tire and TD Bank, in positions of increasing responsibility. My last corporate role at TD was as the Senior Vice President running their Credit Card and Personal Lending businesses.

BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a PartyMAX franchise business owner (franchisee)?

JS:There are many advantages to being a PartyMAX franchisee. The key one for me is the simplicity of the business. You don’t require special technical skills, like how to cook a pizza or fix a car and unlike the restaurant sector your inventory won’t spoil, there are no health inspectors to worry about or kitchens to clean!

BTB: Who is your ideal franchise business owner (franchisee)?

JS:There are 2 categories of franchisee that we would consider “ideal”. First is an owner/operator who wants to run their own fun business and who has a strong customer service orientation coupled with the discipline to follow the PartyMAX business model. Second, the PartyMAX concept is perfect for the Multi-Unit “Absentee” Owner. This individual would consider owning several PartyMAX stores as an alternative investment opportunity. They don’t want to run a store day to day, but they are good people managers with a keen eye for hiring good folks to work in their stores.

BTB: Tell us a little about the retail party store franchise market?

JS:In Canada the retail party store market is dominated by PartyCity which has about 40 outlets. The next biggest is us, PartyMAX presently with 4 corporate stores. The rest of the market is made up of small independents. So we see a huge opportunity to grow PartyMAX into a significant competitor to PartyCity all in a market which is growing overall.

BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

JS: The biggest lesson that I have learned is that finding the right people to award with a franchise takes a tremendous amount of patience and diligence. We are entering what hopefully will be a very long and profitable relationship so the fit has to be right.

BTB: Do you have a mentor and is their someone you use for inspiration?

s:My Dad who passed away several years ago is my inspiration. He came to Canada in 1958 with just $52 in his pocket and 3 words of English in his vocabulary. His first job was mopping floors for 50 cents an hour. Ultimately he became a successful business owner and provided well for his family. His courage and perseverance will always be an inspiration to me.

BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?

JS: They should ask tons of questions! They should also focus on doing the math required to understand just how much sales volume they need to hit their projected goals. They should truly understand this in a concrete and not abstract way. For example, they should take an annual sales target and break it down into sales dollars and number of customers per day and per hour. Looking at the numbers this way helps make them seem more “real”. Then they can look at concept and decide for them themselves whether they believe it can draw that number of customers each hour. If the numbers don’t seem to add up – they probably won’t in real life either.

BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that PartyMAX franchise opportunity would be a great opportunity for someone?

JS:PartyMAX is a great opportunity for many reasons. The simplicity of the business model, the gap in the marketplace, the relatively low cost of entry compared to many other franchises, and lastly it’s a FUN business ! Customers come to your store because they are planning a party – a special event for a family member or friend. They are not coming to see you in a bad mood because they have an insect infestation or a car that’s broken down. They come in with a smile and you can make their smile even bigger by helping them find just the right products to have a great time with their friends and family.