Taz Sandhu took the leap from employee to business owner, acquiring his first Subway franchise in Northampton in June 2017
Tarsem (Taz) Sandhu is one of the newest franchisees to join the Subway brand’s global franchise network. With a background in corporate banking and private equity, Taz took the leap from employee to business owner, acquiring his first Subway franchise in Northampton in June 2017.
Ready for a change
He explains: “I’d been working for 15 years in corporate banking and private equity, with various roles at global banks at family offices, both here in the UK and Asia. I felt ready for a change and a new challenge and wanted to do something different.
“Running my own business was an attractive proposition, providing the opportunity to take more control over my own destiny. I had also recently got married and relocated, so it felt like the right time to make the move.
“Franchising is the perfect hybrid between starting a business from scratch and being an employee. It offers all the benefits of running your own business, but with the added advantage of joining a well known and trusted brand, with established infrastructure, support and controls.
“I was particularly attracted to the food sector as my wife, who hopes to join the business further down the line, is a foodie. It’s also a sector where I believe there’s still room for growth and is recession proof - everyone enjoys eating out.
“After extensive research, the Subway brand emerged as our favourite - it’s a globally recognised brand with a loyal customer base. The simplicity of operation also appealed to us and we liked that the product is healthier and can be tailored to each customer’s unique tastes.
“We spoke to a number of multi-unit owners and their feedback convinced us that a Subway franchise was the right fit for us.”
The Subway brand is one of the largest and best known franchise businesses, with over 2,500 stores open across the UK and Ireland and ambitious plans to grow this number to 3,000 by 2020.
Subway franchisees work for themselves in their local communities, but within a tried and tested framework. The franchise network now provides employment for over 19,000 people across the UK and Ireland.
As with all new Subway franchisees, Taz attended a two-week training course at the Subway brand’s UK headquarters in Cambridge. This provided both classroom-based and in-store, hands-on experience. The Subway brand provides ongoing support and guidance for franchisees, helping them to maximise the success of their stores.
Taz says: “From the very first meeting, the Subway brand has been incredibly supportive. We have regular contact with our local development team, as well as receiving monthly visits to the store by a field consultant, who provides valuable advice. The franchisee community is also a valuable support system, with everyone helping each other out.”
Subway franchisees work hard, particularly in the early stages to get their stores up and running.
Taz says of the experience: “Becoming a Subway franchisee was a massive cultural change for me. I went from a suit and tie corporate life to taking a more hands-on, customer facing role in the stores, getting involved in everything from serving customers and prepping the store for opening to HR, ordering and local store marketing. But six months on and I absolutely love it.”
Taz bought an existing flagship Subway store in a high footfall location and is proud to have broken the store’s sales record within the first three months - a record that had stood for seven years.
He recognises the value of his staff and has worked hard to create an environment where they enjoy coming in to work and are motivated. This has included the introduction of regular one-to-ones and a bonus scheme.
Taz and his wife have ambitious plans for the future. Their goal is to open five Subway stores in three years and are already actively looking for a second location in Northamptonshire.
“Our objective has always been to open multiple stores and become multi-unit franchisees and the Subway franchise system is the ideal model to enable individuals like us to achieve our goals,” Taz says.
“Once the first store was established and we had gained some valuable experience, we started to look for a second site. The biggest test that we were ready for a second location was taking myself out of the store and seeing that it still ran like clockwork. The Subway brand is incredibly supportive of our quest to grow our business.”
Taz says his experience as a Subway franchisee has been positive and he has no regrets about leaving the corporate world behind.
He offers the following advice to anyone thinking of opening a Subway franchise: “Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s crucial to make sure franchising is the right fit and that you fully understand the benefits and constraints of a franchise.
“You then need to do your research to find out which franchise is the right one for you - it helps if you are passionate about the sector.
“I also recommend talking to as many franchisees as possible to understand their experiences and get honest feedback on the brand. The Subway franchisees I approached were all extremely receptive and provided valuable advice.
“If possible, go and work in a store. This provides a really helpful insight. Finally, be realistic about the financial investment and returns.”