Food & Catering, High Street Retail
Zul Chagani, one of Pizza Hut Delivery’s first franchisees in England, is planning on taking a larger slice of the franchise action
Zul Chagani is on a mission to be the proud owner of 20 Pizza Hut Delivery outlets in the next few years. With three established stores in London’s Northwood area, Maidenhead and Hemel Hempstead, and two more outlets opening imminently, he’s well on the way to achieving his goal.
Zul was Pizza Hut Delivery’s first franchisee in England, opening his first store in February 2001. He sold his coffee shop business to finance his move into franchising, which by his own admission grew slowly…until now.
“The reason my business development took longer than I expected was due to the fact my stores were surrounded by company owned outlets during a period when Pizza Hut weren’t looking at heavy expansion of its Delivery channel,” says Zul. “However, in the last 12-18 months Pizza Hut Delivery has been dedicated to explosive growth, resulting in much more opportunities for existing franchisees to increase their store numbers. Since then I’ve been able to grow my business like never before.”
With new trade zones being regularly identified, and Pizza Hut UK’s Delivery team dedicating 100 per cent focus to its delivery channel, Zul’s business development is gaining superb momentum.
Already presiding over a thriving business with a turnover of around £1.7million, Zul’s role as a franchisee is to oversee key performance indicators at his three stores (eg, customer service and staff training measures), make sure he has the right staff in the right places at the right times and, with the help of Pizza Hut Delivery’s property team, scour London and the surrounding areas for potential new sites.
“I love running my business, particularly the interaction I have with the franchisor and my staff,” says Zul. “Pizza Hut’s ethos, vision for growing the business, emphasis on people and the reward and recognition culture it’s developed is fantastic - I’ve implemented these things into my own business, with great success.”
“Trading has been absolutely brilliant in the past 18 months,” Zul continues. “Year on year I’ve seen a 30 per cent increase in sales in all my stores. It’s been well documented that staying in is the new going out. People order from our stores, which is simple to do whether online or over the phone, and we do absolutely everything possible to ensure our customers receive their meal, hot and delicious, in less than 30 minutes every time they order.”
Part of Pizza Hut’s success is down to its ongoing investment in state-of-the-art technology, which makes the franchisee’s task of running their business in an efficient manner as simple as possible. Pizza Hut is constantly investing time and money in the management information systems that assist its franchisees to forecast and monitor performance, manage labour usage, and control food ordering, stock and inventory levels.
Technology already running in the UK network includes real-time performance monitoring, enabling franchisees to monitor the progress of their business any time, anywhere via remote log-in functionality; an online training facility for managers and team members; and a number of digital marketing initiatives. All of which have enabled Zul and his franchise colleagues to grow their businesses, even during the economic downturn.
Pizza Hut Delivery is on course to open 30 new stores this year; in 2011 it’s looking to boost its franchise network with a further 40-plus units. Some of its top performing franchisees are regularly turning over up to £16,000 per week per store.
The franchisor-franchisee relationship has often been compared to a successful marriage, where both partners enjoy a constructive two-way dialogue. This is very much the case at Pizza Hut Delivery where, along with three other franchisees, Zul sits on the company’s franchise council and is the franchise representative on its Capex (capital expenditure) committee, where he witnesses on a monthly basis the company’s rapid growth and its future plans for both existing and new franchisees.
Structured forums such as Pizza Hut’s Operations and Marketing Boards have also been established, where the franchisor works with franchisees to develop the direction of the business and grow the brand.
Pizza Hut Delivery isn’t currently looking for owner-operators who are content with opening no more than a couple of stores. The investment level required from a new franchisee is, at the very least, £130,000- £150,000 in easily accessible, liquid funds.
This is to ensure future investors have the backing in place to grow to a minimum of four-six stores as quickly as possible and complement the existing growth strategy.
As a franchisee you will receive full, ongoing training and support tailored to your requirements and experience, plus the use of the Pizza Hut brand and tried and tested systems. Day to day support is provided by Franchise Business Managers, Acquisitions Managers and experts in all the key functions such as marketing, new product development and training.
If you have sufficient funding, are passionate about the Pizza Hut brand, fanatical about customer service, can demonstrate a history of business success, and are prepared to dedicate the time required to run a successful pizza delivery business, then this could be the next venture you’re looking for.
“I like pizza, and the Pizza Hut product is excellent,” explains Zul. “Before I became a franchisee, I always remember the company’s outlets being really busy. This and the fact that Pizza Hut is part of a massive company and is a worldwide brand, made me want to be a part of the success story.
With plans for at least 700 delivery franchises in the uk, pizza hut is cashing in on the fact that staying in is the new going out
Pizza Hut doesn’t need much of an introduction. The world’s largest pizza company, it originated in Wichita Kansas back in 1958 as a small, 25 seat restaurant, but quickly expanded, establishing itself as a brand in the UK in 1973 first as a restaurant chain, then in 1988 as a pizza delivery service.
Offering franchise partnerships from 2000, it now has 320 delivery stores across the UK and Ireland - but it doesn’t intend to stop there. With sights set high, its aim is for at least 700 delivery franchises across the nation.
That might seem ambitious in troubled times, but Fiona Smith, Director of Franchise Development at Pizza Hut, is quick to point out that pizza delivery has survived the recession remarkably well. “Even if times are hard, people still want a treat,” she explains. “It’s been well documented that staying in is considered the new going out, and that really does seem to be the case. There’s a strong trend now for people to order in pizza and maybe watch a film and have a few drinks, rather than splash out on a night on the town. In recent weeks especially we’ve seen sales in double digit growth over last year.”
Pizza Hut opened 29 new delivery franchises last year and is on track to open a similar number this year - it just has to find the right people to take on board. “We don’t have any problems attracting interest,” says Fiona. “This is a big, well-known brand and there’s a huge scale of opportunities. But we sign people in for 20-year deals. It takes a particular kind of person to be right for that.”
Fiona says drive and passion are the key qualities Pizza Hut looks for in potential franchisees. “You have to be quite tenacious and persistent in this industry,” she explains. “You can’t sit back and wait for business to roll in. You also have to be passionate about making sure you deliver great tasting, hot pizzas on time, day in, day out.
“You need to be a people person too - someone who loves giving customers great service and value, can motivate their teams and interact well with us as a franchisor.” Successful applicants come from a range of backgrounds, according to Fiona: “Some have experience in multi-outlet restaurants, but we’ve also had IT consultants and CEOs. The important thing is to be business savvy and have a commitment to our way of doing things, to which you can bring your own flair.”
“You also have to be happy to take risks to get ahead. It’s a calculated one rather than an entrepreneurial one, but that has to be part of your character.”
Part of the reason for Pizza Hut’s popularity as a delivery brand is its marketing. “This year we struck a sponsorship deal with E4, which appeals to our target, young adult market,” says Fiona. “We’ve also got around 350,000 fans of Facebook, which is way above our competitors. People find deals, thenstart to chat about our pizzas - things like which toppings they’re going to order that night or for what occasion. It’s a fun, easy way to interact with our customers and keep the brand current.”
Once on board, there’s a huge amount of support for franchisees. “Every franchisee will receive support to get them up and running, from finding sites to training,” says Fiona. “Lots of support is also generated and shared through a raft of forums and workshops, which franchisees are encouraged to take an active part in, as well as more formal structures such as the Franchise Council or Marketing Board.”
“IT systems are also a great resource for franchisees,” says Fiona. “We constantly invest time and money in the management information systems that help our stores forecast and monitor performance, labour usage, food ordering and inventory management. Franchisees can access the sales and service details of all their stores at any time they need. Information can even be texted direct to their phone.”
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