Francine Kanhai was chosen as Grand Falls Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2008. This dynamic entrepreneur was born in Drummond and her family moved to Grand Falls in 1969. After graduation, she headed to Toronto to seek employment, where she met her husband and they were married in 1981. And, then came two beautiful children, Nicholas born in 1983 and Matthew, born in 1988.
In 1989, the family moved back to Grand Falls region of St. Andre because they wanted to raise their children in a small community. In June of that year that she and her husband purchased an existing convenience store, tire garage and gas station and called it Francine’s Quick Mart. The following year, their daughter Sarah was born.
Over the years there have been some challenging times but Francine and her husband were always able to weather the storm. Always being innovative and anticipating customer needs the Kanhai’s introduced prepared food to their store in 1994. Also,
the Kanhai’s decided to start introducing hot lunches. Their customer base grew a lot, as they enjoyed the food and the service that was provided.
In 1998, the couple decided to close the tire garage and open a restaurant with a bar (Cachet Bar & Café). They renovated the garage and opened the doors of the new locale on September 14, 1998. Over ten years later, business is still going strong and they have attracted an excellent customer base.
Francine’s business motto is Aim to Please. They do this by offering products that their competitors do not have, such as fresh baked goods on a daily basis and restaurant quality products. They also believe that “if you keep customers happy, they will keep coming back and telling others. In the past three years they have fully renovated their store, for a better environment for the staff and customers. There store is always clean with well stocked shelves and they purchased a new scanner to better serve their clients.
Francine also believes in having a champion team who she describes as motivated, loyal, trustworthy and dependable. Their staff has grown from one full-time employees plus her and her husband to three full-time and three part-time. She believes in surrounding yourself with an excellent staff that you treat as a family.
When asked what the most rewarding business aspect, Francine said it is watching her business grow over time. The interaction with her customers and their families, she finds is a joy in itself. Also, Francine loves when a customer wins a large sum of money on the Lottery. She says to see the person so happy generates happiness throughout the day, as they share the good news with them and their other customers.
Francine’s business has been very supportive of the community. They have helped the local Fish &Game Club with various administrative functions. They have contributed to soccer teams, the Centre Horizon by giving clients who attend the Centre special pricing on different items and contribute towards different activities at the Centre.
Also, they are very active in the local school through various fundraising activities. One example if the Entrepreneurship Program where students manufacture handmade products and can display and sell them at their store.
Francine is an active member of the Grand Falls Rotary Club and was the first female president in 2005 to 2007. She also represents the Rotary on the Auditorium Richelieu committee. She is presently a director of the Grand Falls CBDC, is an executive committee member on the New Brunswick Insurance Board and is a member and active volunteer for Centre Horizon. She is also active in her parish, sitting as a board member on the CPP church committee. From 1998 to 2001 she was a board member on the John Caldwell School Parent Committee and from 1996 to 1997 she was a member then later a director of the Women in Business Association.
Furthermore, from 1993 to 1996 she was a director of the Grand Falls Chamber of Commerce and was the president of the Grand Falls Mini Pageant in 1995 to 1996. Before moving back to the Grand Falls region in 1989, she was a volunteer for the United Way in Toronto since 1980.
Francine’s long term plan is to have her son Matthew, take over and continue the business. He is being trained on his summer break in the day-to-day functioning and the Kanhai’s are encouraging him to take business courses at the Community College.
If Francine could give some advice to other business people or aspiring entrepreneurs, she says: Be prepared for hard work, be prepared to make instant decisions, never give up, be prepared for hard times and have a strong character and do what you love!