Former IT manager now a Kauai franchise owner


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After working in the computer industry for 12 years, Alan Verwey was retrenched. He saw this as an opportunity rather than a disaster because he had always wanted to own a restaurant. However, he was reluctant to risk his retrenchment package on an unproven venture so, when Kauai offered him the opportunity to acquire a stake in Kauai Claremont, he eagerly accepted. Alan takes up the story:

“I wanted to start with a tested formula and I knew that Kauai’s founders had done the necessary groundwork. The fact that they continue to operate their own stores to this day gave me the added confidence I needed to enter into the deal. With them continuing to be involved in the core business, I know that every decision they make is based on business realities. They don’t just make decisions designed to push up franchise fee income.”

Alan is highly complimentary about the training he received from Kauai. “They trained me for three months and the founders were directly involved. And once I took over my first own store, the field support people helped me to iron out any teething problems. What I like about these guys is that they are not administrators, they have operated stores themselves and know precisely what needs to be done, and how.

“The fact that they trained my initial staff complement as well was also a great help. On an ongoing basis, I find that balancing customer focus with operational requirements is a challenge, but with the help of the support team, I pass all the hurdles quite easily.”

Quite clearly, things have worked out as planned for Alan who by now has become a multi-unit franchisee. In addition to the Claremont store, he owns Kauai in Cavendish Centre and Kauai in Motion located within Virgin Active. He is determined to open additional stores in future and finds that the joint venture arrangement suits his personality. “My joint venture partners prevent me from making serious mistakes, for example by selecting the wrong location, and Head Office takes care of all administrative tasks. This allows me to focus on customer care and operational issues, and that’s how I like it.

“Recruiting good staff and keeping them motivated creates sometimes problems, but by being part of a team that understands the business intimately and working closely together, I know that we will always find the optimal solution for any problem.”

Asked what advice he would give to newcomers to the world of franchising, Alan’s response is straightforward:”Select something that suits your personality, become really involved from day one and take time to make up your mind. Insist that your franchisor does a comprehensive site evaluation, but also check out the site yourself. Speaking from my own experience, Kauai insists on doing it this way and it really works best!

“Once you are in business, motivate yourself to be the best you can be, then surround yourself with good people and instil in them the notion that when it comes to customer service, ‘good enough’ isn’t.”

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