Industry expert Haj Atwal has some sound advice for you
Haj Atwal is a regional development agent for the Subway brand. With his business partner and brother, Narinder Atwal, he is a franchisee of 32 stores and development agent for over 85 stores across east, north and south Scotland.
Having worked for Subway for more than 15 years as both a franchisee and development agent, Haj is a franchise expert. Here are his top tips for business success:
Is franchising for you?
Haj says: “The Subway brand owes much of its success to the strong support systems it has in place for all franchisees.
“The great thing about a franchised business is that you’re operating in a tried and tested system, with excellent training and a solid support structure, plus added scope to improve your business and work with the franchisor to develop the brand.
“However, you need to be sure you’re willing to adhere to this system and work within the parameters of the franchise’s existing processes and procedures. This support has proved to be very successful and the fact that over 70 per cent of all new Subway franchises sold worldwide are sold to existing franchisees speaks volumes.”
Have you got what it takes?
“To run a successful franchise, it’s important you know your business inside out and are prepared to ‘work the line’, which in our business means working as a sandwich artist,” Haj says.
“Mastering all aspects of your business, from behind the counter serving customers to managing the everyday running of the store, is invaluable. You must be willing to get hands-on with the business, as it enables you to empathise with your staff and customers, giving you the overall knowledge to direct the business effectively.
“Hands-on management is vital to running a successful store - simply owning the franchise is not enough.
“To be a success in any franchise business, you also need to be passionate about what you do. Many potential franchisees already have excellent business flair, but you need more than this to run a successful franchise.
“It’s important you know your franchise, your market, local community and competitors. A franchise business is hard work and in order to make it a success you have to truly know and believe in what you’re investing in.”
Do your research
“The first step will always be to research the franchise fully,” Haj says. “Most franchises have websites packed full of information for potential franchisees, including online seminars, training guides and background information.
“Make it a priority to read the franchise trade press and attend any local franchisee exhibitions and seminars in your area - and make sure you go armed with questions.
“It’s also important to check out the competition, research the market trends and how the franchise has performed historically. Are there any potential threats that may adversely affect the success of your franchise in the future and what plans are in place to address these?
“Investing in a franchise can be a life changing business choice, so it’s vital to make an informed decision.”
“An understanding of the dynamics that motivate individuals is a bonus in the franchising business,” Haj says.
“As a quick service restaurant franchise, the Subway brand is always faced with the ingrained perceptions of working within the ‘food to go’ industry. Attracting reliable, customer focused staff and retaining them is a key issue within the industry and it’s essential you can offer potential employees motivating factors to keep them challenged within the organisation.
“The key is to be able to identify individuals who are looking for a longterm career and work with them to identify where you can assist in their long-term goals.”
Manage your money
“Once your business is up and running and becoming well established in the local area, it may be tempting for franchisees to start to spend their profits,” Haj says. “At Subway we would caution our franchisees to temper this inclination, to look after the money that’s coming in and think ahead to any possible drains on these resources that could crop up in the future.
“Good business people will be thinking three to six months ahead and have the ability to anticipate the ebbs and flows of cash flow, putting a strategy in place to address these potential pitfalls.
“Evaluate any risks, taking an informed and disciplined view.”