From a runner to Primi Piatti franchisee and the challenges encountered on the way
Name: Himal Patel
Franchise: Primi Piatti
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose Primi Piatti franchise?
I was interested in the restaurant industry and franchising offers a great starting point to learn something new through tried and tested formulae. The energy and core belief system of Primi Piatti caught me immediately, as I have lived my life by similar principles and quickly identified with the brand.
What did you do before taking up your Primi Piatti franchise?
I am an attorney by profession.
How did you raise the finance?
I raised my finance though personal funds along with financing through the IDC.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
Where do I start? The training process is like nothing that I have ever encountered. My brother and I, after being accepted as franchisees, had started on a training program and journey that took us around the country. Neither of us having worked in a restaurant, we started as runners on our hands and knees scrubbing floors at Primi Piatti Waterfront. We were then handed our menu packs and so began the theory training, while we worked as runners to understand the flow and organisation of the restaurant.
Over the course of the following months we went through an intensive training program that included all aspects of waitering, kitchen training, administrative and finance, and finally management. Every training program had us starting at the bottom so that we could understand the process from the ground up.
Without this solid foundation, very little in life can be realised. So we started in the scullery for kitchen training, runner before waiter etc. We had the privilege of being directly trained by the directors of Primi Piatti, along with many really great franchisees that trained us in various aspects in their own stores. This family arrangement made us feel that we had made the right decision and chosen the correct franchise.
This support and training has been ongoing, with the Operations Team regularly conducting staff and food quality audits, training and logistical support.
What is a typical day for you as a Primi Piatti franchisee?
As a restaurant that trades breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week, we have very long days. When we opened the store, a typical day started at 8am where I would get into the store and go through all my operator procedures- checking stock levels and ordering, opening and closing procedures for Front of House from the night before, checking the kitchen and bar procedures. I then get working on the administrative tasks of banking, cash up checks, and payments. Although there are managers that provide the information, it is the Operator’s responsibility to oversee and check that all procedures were properly followed and that we are ready to trade. Once your doors open for trading there can be no mistake and nothing left to chance, you have to be ready to provide everything that your customers expect of you.
What challenges have you faced?
The question is “what challenges have we not faced”! We have been though things while running this business that not many people could endure. The only reason that we were able to do so was because of the invaluable training that we received and the mindset of a restaurateur. We have had to deal with issues such as weather damaged beaches affecting holiday trade in a seasonal town; we have been through a recession and survived. We have traded through load shedding and water cuts and the regular increases and changes to the Labour Laws which have made operating a restaurant more difficult. Of course, once a restaurateur, all these curve balls become par for the course and you deal with them quite naturally.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Yes, it has opened my mind to different ways of learning various industries and given me many ideas for entrepreneurship.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Research fully any company that you want to buy into. Speak to current franchisees and make sure that the industry and the particular franchise can offer what you are looking for.
What are your plans for the future?
My immediate plans are to continue pushing the boundaries of quality and service that we have become known for and to continue successfully running my restaurant for the benefit of all our loyal staff and customers.
Would you do it again?