Heather has over 20 years experience as an economist and management consultant, advising clients in the fields of business operations, supply chain management, corporate transformation and developing and implementing new business models. Prior to Boomerang Kids, Heather Meek was an Associate Partner with IBM Global Business Services, leading a federal practice in customer relationship management. She began management consulting with Price Waterhouse in 1995, joining from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada where she was an Economist for 5 years. Heather completed a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph in 1988 and a Masters of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Guelph in 1990. Heather lives with her husband and two daughters in Kanata, Ontario.
BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the Boomerang Kids concept.
Heather Meek: Boomerang Kids is a children’s resale chain, with 18 years in business and 4 stores in Ottawa. We pay out over $1 million dollars in consignment commissions to Ottawa families. What other business actually pays their customer?
BTB: How and when did you become involved with Boomerang Kids?
HM: My business partner and I bought the business 5 years ago, when it was a two store operation run by the original creators of the business. The stores had a fantastic reputation in Ottawa, and my business partner and I were both customers and loved the business. We heard it was for sale, and we saw an opportunity to expand such a well-loved enterprise.
BTB: What was your background prior to joining Boomerang Kids?
HM: I was an Associate Partner with IBM. I had spent over 15 years in the consulting industry, helping other small, medium and large businesses grow and expand. Prior to that I was an economist with Agriculture Canada. I have a Masters of Science in Agricultural Economics.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Boomerang Kids franchisee?
HM: You get to be a part of a business concept that is just on the verge of becoming mainstream. At Boomerang Kids, we are revolutionizing resale, bringing best practice retail concepts and innovations to the consignment business. Technology innovation is very important to us, particularly with regards to improving productivity and profitability. Other advantages include the flexibility you need for your lifestyle, helping our planet as we reuse and recycle and of course, enjoying good income potential.
BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?
HM: Our ideal franchisee is someone who truly understands the importance of customer service excellence, the financial story of the business and key performance indicators in addition to a persistent attitude of success. Retail experience and a very good knowledge of the children’s product market are also important.
BTB: Tell us a little about the resale Market?
HM: Resale is a recession-proof industry – as regular retail growth has been stagnant these past few years, the resale industry has grown. More and more parents recognize the benefit of selling the items their children don’t use anymore, and of stretching their buying power by purchasing resale items.
BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
HM: Some of the greatest lessons are:
(1) You can be very smart, but without persistence you won’t get anywhere.
(2) Start with the end result in mind, and be prepared to continuously course correct.
(3) A small business benefits from the rigor and expectations of large corporation financial management and key performance indicators.
(4) You need to steer from the data (KPIs) AND the store floor at the same time– they both have tremendous insight and complement each other.
BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
HM: My business partner, Krista Thompson, inspires me every day with her positive attitude and her ability to think & work at the speed of light!
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
HM: Pick a business that you are keenly interested in and that suits your attitude, aptitude and passion. It’s the passion for the business that will supercharge you when you are enjoying the highs and benefits of your business, and will allow you to persevere when you experience the inevitable lows and challenges in your business. With passion, you experience the lows as learning opportunities. In my experience, anything I initially experienced as a low or challenge was actually an opportunity for innovation and improvement.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Boomerang Kids would be a great opportunity for someone?
HM: The resale industry is just on the verge of hitting mainstream – which is a great place to be when you are a business owner within the industry. Our business has good income potential, it performs well in both a hot economy and one in recession, it provides the flexibility someone may need for their personal life and family, and for those of us who believe in helping the environment at every opportunity – you get to do it every day at Boomerang Kids. If you have kids, you also enjoy wholesale prices on children’s merchandise, which makes outfitting your family in clothes, toys, equipment, books, etc., a whole lot more affordable.