A chia-seed roll with vegetable schnitzel, a salmon bagel with honey-mustard sauce or perhaps a ‘Strammer Max’ from the hot counter? Successfully managed with great joy by the franchisees Anja and Markus Jütten, the BackWerk in the southern German city of Lörrach leaves its guests spoilt for choice with a range of more than 100 products.
“We offer our visitors quick yet healthy food”, explains Anja Jütten. She and her husband are franchise partners of BackWerk – a company of the Swiss convenience and food service provider Valora since autumn 2017 – and have been running the store in the southern German city of Lörrach since July 2017. “The food we sell is fresh and produced on a continuous basis”. Their day at BackWerk starts in the morning at 5.30 a.m., one hour before the store opens. An employee slides dough pieces and pre-baked bakery wares into the hot baking ovens to ensure that the goods are ready when the next shift begins with the coatings, toppings and fillings being applied. Thanks to the semi-open kitchen, visitors can see how the Jüttens and their team freshly prepare everything behind the counter – right up until when the shop closes if necessary.
Making it happen
By taking over the BackWerk in Lörrach, Anja and Markus Jütten turned a long-held dream of managing their own business as entrepreneurs into reality. To do so, the married couple even accepted having to leave their old home in Aachen to build a new life 600 kilometres to the south. While this was a brave step, it was one that they themselves admit they were able to assess realistically. The Jüttens both come from families of bakers and got to know each other during their training period at the business of Anja’s parents. They understand all aspects of the business and knew what they were letting themselves in for.
Being your own boss
They had the idea of opening their own BackWerk completely spontaneously when they stopped at a store of the franchisor in Aachen. “We liked the self-service concept with the freshly prepared products right away”, explains Anja Jütten. And her husband adds that “the chance to soon be our own boss was very appealing”. Everything then moved very quickly. After making initial contact with BackWerk and submitting a written application in November 2016, the Jüttens attended an information day in Essen at the start of December. This was followed by a short period of training at a BackWerk in Mönchengladbach before a conversation with the BackWerk manager responsible for awarding franchises at the start of the new year.
Baking in the Academy
Still convinced by the franchise system, the married couple attended the BackWerk Academy in Dortmund for a period of six weeks. Here, they got to know the BackWerk concept, including the products and systems, received tips for employee management and practised interviews. In spring 2017 – only a few months after visiting a BackWerk for the first time – they received the offer to take over the BackWerk in Lörrach close to the Swiss border. “The location right next to the train station is ideal and convinced us immediately. Many customers visit in the morning before travelling to work in Switzerland by train”, explains Markus Jütten. Or school pupils, who quickly want to pick up a drink or a bread roll for their break.
“We liked the self-service concept with the freshly prepared products right away”.Anja Jütten, BackWerk franchisee in Lörrach
The step into self-employment not only meant a radical change to the professional lives or Anja and Markus Jütten, but also their private lives. They decided to sell their large home and its considerable grounds. “Our twin sons are at university and had already moved out at this time”, explains Anja Jütten. Both sons found it great that mum and dad were striking out on a new professional path and upping sticks from their old home. In the meantime, one of the two sons has followed his parents and the other is also considering soon transferring his place of study to Freiburg.
Despite the continual coming and going and the short time that guests spend at the branch, personal contact with their customers is important to the Jüttens. “A nice welcome and farewell at the cash register doesn’t cost anything and is remembered by the customer”, says a convinced Anja Jütten. Those who feel they have received friendly service are also happy to stop a little longer and enjoy their lunch at one of the tables or on the terrace in the fresh air. One year after opening, Anja and Markus Jütten refurbished their business in August 2018: a wall had to be removed and new furniture brought in to allow for more air and create a feeling of lightness.
Brave and hardworking
Until now, the Jüttens remain convinced that they have taken the right step. They confirm to us in unison that “we would do it again without hesitation”. They enjoy working with their employees, managing them and enthusing them for their work at BackWerk. “Satisfied employees are the prerequisite for a well-functioning business”. And the most important thing of all: the two of them enjoy working together. “We complement each other perfectly. We are ambitious and want to achieve something”, explains Anja Jütten. During the first six months, it was normal that both of them would spend seven days a week at the store. The team is now so well-practised that the Jüttens can take off one or two days a week. For the two go-getters, this is almost too relaxed. They are already thinking about opening a further BackWerk business – it is still too early to say where exactly. For a franchise partner to run several BackWerk stores at the same time is not uncommon. There are even some in Germany who manage eight.
Starting self-employed life with a tried-and-tested concept
There are enough reasons not to become self-employed – above all the fear of failure. Why it is nevertheless worthwhile considering this step is demonstrated by the successful and multi-award-winning BackWerk franchise model. The franchise partners of the bakery are prepared for striking out into self-employment in a targeted manner as part of training courses. They benefit from a successful, ready-to-use business model including order, point of sale and accounting systems as well as marketing and advertising. The franchise partner even receives support in finding premises, conducting rental negotiations and refurbishing the store. The BackWerk concept counts on the entrepreneurial skills of its franchise partners and allows them to contribute actively to the company’s strategic development as part of advisory boards and working groups. Valora and BackWerk are convinced that owner-managed businesses are more successful because the owners get down to work in a committed and motivated fashion and thus also contribute many new ideas.
Photo and video: Noë Flum