Since 1951, Kiddie Kobbler has been a supplier of high quality, well-fitting children’s shoes.
Over the years, Kiddie Kobbler has continued to offer quality products and service that has led to its success and allowed for company expansion. With 13 stores across Ontario, and another location in St. John’s, N.L., Kiddie Kobbler will open its newest store next year, based in Kanata-Stittsville.
What separates the company from the competition is its attention to detail. Parents and consumers won’t find a similar commitment to quality with other retailers. In fact, it’s often this same group that inquires about owning their own Kiddie Kobbler franchise because they believe in the Kiddie Kobbler business model, its customer loyalty, and its strong case for sound investment.
“The quality of service and quality of footwear that we provide is all about getting the correct measurement and correct fit,” Nancy Norman, President and CEO of Kiddie Kobbler, told The Canadian Business Journal. “Our franchisees and staff are trained to properly measure kids’ feet – both feet – so that it’s supportive to the child’s foot while still leaving room for growth.”
Applying a franchising model that has pushed company growth since 1968, the Kiddie Kobbler concept continues to attract interest and potential franchisees.
What started as a single store in Ottawa now has representation across the province.
Kiddie Kobbler has proven the ‘owner in the store’ concept, and it’s not uncommon to see store managers become franchisees. As Norman described, “Our franchisees are like small, independent stores because they offer first-hand service. It becomes a family business in itself. Our stores also become involved in their communities with local sports teams and dance schools where they can both sponsor and supply service and a group sale price.
“It’s a community store tailored to the franchisee’s market. What sells in Whitby may not sell the same in Markham. The buying is tailored to community demand.”
So who is the ideal franchising partner of Kiddie Kobbler? “Quite often they’re young parents with a good business background and enough financing to open a store,” Norman said. “It’s a community, so we look for people who are energetic, dynamic, and up-to-speed with the latest social networking technologies and marketing techniques. More and more, we know parents are doing their research online before shopping, if they are not already buying online.”
Better Business Model
The plan moving forward is to solidify new business systems before further expansion. As the new leader of Kiddie Kobbler, Norman believes updated policies, systems, and new technology will enable more centralized buying and improved inventory control for existing franchises, to then be implemented across new stores. A model for increased productivity and profitability, the improved system further adds to Kiddie Kobbler’s attractiveness to potential franchisees.
“Expansion is the goal, but I want to improve the system before I get there,” Norman said. “We’ll have a better system to present to new franchisees. It’s an improved business model to sell, expand, and start growing our chain again. I don’t want to go at lightning speed, but I definitely want to expand.
“With the new technology and changing the way we market online, I hope to support the current stores and make a better model for the new coming stores.”
Unlike many in the retail sector, Kiddie Kobbler has not felt the same global economic challenges of recent years. Kiddie Kobbler showed sustained sales during the 2008 recession, and continues to drive sales. Interestingly enough, where Kiddie Kobbler has its battles is with the change in season – with almost no winter felt last year, it is the this area that can take its swing on business. Norman explained, “What affects us much more than the economy is the weather. It hurts when stores buy winter boots if there is no winter weather, then customers only trickle in over the season.”
What began as a family business, it is these values that continue to push the company’s success – a commitment to quality and to the customer. This dedication to quality service is what keeps parents coming back to Kiddie Kobbler. From one generation to the next, Kiddie Kobbler remains a true success story of children’s footwear.