Sanjeev Sanghera, co-founder and managing director of Döner Shack, gives us an insight into his daily routine at head office, where he focuses his time defining the franchise’s restaurant concept
As someone who’s been in the restaurant industry for more than 25 years, I’ve had a huge array of experiences that have shaped the way I now operate restaurants. Having worked my way up through the hospitality trade and had positions from kitchen porter to executive chef and restaurant owner, I then moved on to restaurant operations and new concept development. This is what I enjoy the most and where I focus the majority of my time.
Concept design and development is the most important part of a restaurant, so my role as managing director is to ensure this is clearly defined so our franchisees can deliver the brand effectively. When I talk about concept, I am referring to the foundation of the business which is the products we serve and how they are going to be perceived in the new markets. This will then enable us to deliver high-quality products consistently with a better level of service than our competitors.
It is a complex process bringing together all the different facets of a restaurant, which is why we need to get it right. It is more than detailing the products we serve, the service we provide, or the theme and décor of the restaurant. There are a whole host of other factors to be considered, such as our vision, value proposition and points of difference, industry research and innovation, site and menu design, branding and marketing, management and financial modelling, to name a few.
Takes time and investment
Restaurant concept planning takes time and investment and is one of the biggest challenges any restaurateur is faced with. I, therefore, spend a great deal of my time checking the specifications for each franchise location – this entails finding the right city in terms of population and economy, the cost to build or lease the site, accessibility and visibility and potential plans for the neighbouring area.
I also work extremely closely with our training and operations managers to identify where there may be training gaps for the teams operating the restaurants.
For example, if someone does make a mistake, it usually identifies a training issue, and this needs to be addressed.
Meeting customer expectations
Training is an important part of my development, as well as the business. I have just attended a course called ‘operations excellence’ and it has completely transformed the way we consider our restaurants. Our whole philosophy has changed to make certain we give our customers what they pay for every single time. We have a new mission, which has become the driving force for Döner Shack: ‘to deliver our products and service 100 per cent to brand standards every single time’. This implies that we will deliver exactly what the customer is expecting in terms of food and service. We do not ever want to feel we are cheating our customers.
Another key element of my job is spent on strategy to determine how we will expand the franchise. I know this does not sound very glamorous, but it is so important in terms of the messaging we are sending out to our franchisees.
It is not hard to run a restaurant. If you get the food and the service right every time, you can achieve success. We know our products, the business model and locations are all robust, but once you have all these elements in place, the success factor comes down to how well you deliver that experience for the customer. And if you do that time and time again, you will have a prosperous franchise.