From Col’Cacchio manager to owner
Location: World Wear Centre Fairland
Franchise: Col’Cacchio pizzeria
Why did you go down the franchise route and why did you choose your Col’Cacchio franchise?
I made the decision to go ahead and open a franchise store because I was managing a Col’Cacchio pizzeria store at the time the opportunity arouse for me to open my own store. The owners of the store were also the franchisors and I was passionate about the brand, the running of the store and the amount of money to be made from a successful store.
What did you do before taking your Col’Cacchio franchise?
I have been in the restaurant and hospitality industry since I was 15 and always knew that I wanted to open my own store. I started waitering at the Baron and Jester when I was still in school. After school I was offered a scholarship to study Bsc Building Science and dropped out after 6 months. I then went to work at a ski lodge, Mount Snow, Vermont, USA, cleaning dishes and teaching snow boarding during the winter. In the summer I worked in New York as a kitchen hand for 2 years and when I returned was hired as a junior manager at Rhapsody’s at Peter Place. I was at Rhapsody’s for 4 years, then left to open a night club which I invested all the money I had. The Night Club business turned out not to be for me and I lost all the capital I had invested.
The day I sold I was driving past Col’Cacchio pizzeria Bryanston. I had never been in the store before and on that day their manager had resigned and 2 weeks later I was hired by the owners, who were also the franchisors. I worked at Col’Cacchio Bryanston for 2 years and then I opened my own store.
How did you raise the finance?
I was helped by 1 of the franchisors. I invested R100K and the balance we were able to get through the Industrial Development Corporation.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
I and all my staff’s training was done in the store that I was working in for two months before we opened. I received a further month’s hand holding in my store once it was open. I also did some online courses and short term courses on accounting and business management. I find the more I learn and the more information I am able to study helps in the day to day running of my business. I have also found that role modelling the behaviour and actions of more successful people helps to develop skills. I also receive frequent visits from head office to monitor my performance and help me where necessary.
What is a typical day for me as a franchisee?
A typical day involves getting my store ready to trade by 11h30, by making sure that we have all the required stock and that all the required food preparation has been completed and the store is set up for lunch. After lunch we prep any items that may have been depleted at lunch so that we have sufficient stock for the dinner trade. Whilst this is all happening I am dealing with suppliers and monitoring, managing and mentoring my staff. I am also always thinking of ways to attract more customers and what local marketing I can do to affect this. If we are having a head office visit I would also be preparing for that.
What challenges have I faced?
In retrospect my store was over financed, I invested R100K and was given finance of R1.8 million.
To start with and for the first 18 months of trade I was trading below breakeven which meant my cash flow was upside down. The reason for the poor trade was that the centre that my restaurant is in, never seemed to take off, and now has a vacancy rate of over 50%.
This coupled with the recession meant that my sales were lower than my projected growth. I have had to box very smartly to make sure that every customer that came into my store had such a great experience that they came back and told their friends. Through sheer determination, hard work and the fact that Col’Cacchio pizzeria brand and its products are so good, I managed to trade out of my poor situation and grow my business against the trend of the centre.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
I love being part of a group of people that are as passionate about the product as I am. I enjoy my work, my staff and my customers. I have gone from a newbie business owner to a multiple restaurant owner and I cannot wait for the next 5 years as I know that both my stores are destined for a bigger and better future. I have learned that there is no substitute for a hard work, a quality product and outstanding service, as well as having a team of people that are dedicated to working as hard for you as you are for them. Plus I met my wife when she was having lunch in my restaurant.
What advice would I give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Choose a brand carefully and do your research on the location, the customers in the area and their ability to afford your product. Ask current franchisees for the opinions and ask the franchisor questions on how he/she runs their brand, if they are unable to run the brand correctly then the franchisees are unable to run their business correctly. Ask what the past and future trends in the industry are and where the brand is positioned. Ask for the success rate of the stores and the amount of stores that are profitable. Ask the franchisor what they do to help stores in good times and in bad.
What are my plans for the future?
I have just bought my second Col’Cacchio pizzeria franchise store and for the next two years will be working to get the new store up to my standards. I have plans to open a third and fourth store in the future and have given myself two years to get my second store into a position to accomplish that. I have a wonderful team of people that share in my passion for the brand, industry and my vision for my future and theirs. I know that even though we are in tough times, I will succeed and my stores, family and staff are going to go from strength to strength.
Would I do it again?
100% without a doubt