With three stores open across Cork in Ireland, Owen O’Driscoll explains what it takes to be a SUBWAY franchisee
Cork-based businessman Owen O’Driscoll helped the SUBWAY brand reach its milestone of 1,700 stores across the UK and Ireland in November 2013. The 1,700th SUBWAY store has opened in Douglas, Cork and the SUBWAY brand has announced plans for a further 40 stores in Ireland in 2014.
Contributing to the success of the SUBWAY brand is the fact it continues to keep start-up costs low and seeks ambitious franchisees who embrace the entrepreneurial spirit. With three stores open across Cork, Owen explains what it takes to be a SUBWAY franchisee.
Why did you decide to invest in a SUBWAY franchise?
I was interested in starting my own business and franchising seemed like the most appealing idea. I chose the SUBWAY brand, as it’s well known and popular and is the number one franchising brand worldwide. I also enjoy the SUBWAY products and it seemed like a great match.
How many stores do you have and how many people do you employ?
I currently have three stores open in Cork, including the milestone 1,700th SUBWAY store to open in the UK and Ireland. I employ 26 full and part-time local staff and the SUBWAY stores also have a positive knock-on effect in terms of service industries that I work with.
How have the customers changed over the years? How have you adapted to these changes?
We are always growing our customer base as new people discover the wide range of made-to-order tasty subs, salads and flatbreads on offer. We have devised a range of offerings to benefit our different customers; for example, one of my stores offers a delivery service, whereas another will stay open much later. It’s important to understand the environment around the store and cater to it as best as possible. We handle many business lunch contracts for local offices, which are a great opportunity for us.
What challenges have you faced?
One of the challenges I have faced has been to ensure all my staff members meet and continue to meet our high standards. We have grown rapidly and fortunately the SUBWAY brand has support systems in place to ensure our business can grow in a sustained way. The economic climate has been difficult lately, however having a strong brand such as the SUBWAY brand has helped with managing this.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to continue to grow and I’m certainly interested in opening more stores. I’d also like to focus on sales and ensure my business continues to grow.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Opening a franchise is hard work, but the rewards are great. The most important thing for me has been to be hands-on, working alongside my staff and team and making sure first-hand that the store is being run the way I want it to be. Get stuck in would be my advice.
Would you do it again?
Yes, definitely. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved.
What did you do before opening a SUBWAY franchise?
I worked within the furniture retail sector.
Did you look at other franchise options before settling on the SUBWAY brand?
Yes, I researched my options extensively before settling on the SUBWAY brand. I looked at different sectors and different franchising opportunities. The SUBWAY brand, with worldwide brand recognition, a robust support system and simple operations, came out on top. Not to mention that I love the product.
How did you find the locations for your SUBWAY stores?
When opening a SUBWAY franchise, you work closely with your regional development agent and field consultants to ensure you have considered all angles necessary before launch. When it comes to locations, I worked with the development agent and field consultants to discuss which locations would work well and the reasons why such locations would be suitable for a SUBWAY store.
How has your role changed since opening your first store?
Although my role has changed over the years, I try to remain as hands-on as possible in my stores. Nowadays my role consists of managing the stores, my team and the staff in-store. I like to know exactly what is going on in each store, so I ensure I visit regularly and have updates with my staff.