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In a conversation with TFW’s Ekta Verma, Ashna Kapur, Vice President Brand Development Restaurants, Umak Hospitality talks about the astounding rise of the franchise model and what it takes to be a successful franchise professional.
Take us through your professional journey.
After completing the post graduate degrees, I contributed most of my time to the US software industry as a Content and Information Specialist for one of the leading reporting vendors, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, USA. I worked with Radisson Hotels Worldwide management team from 2004 till 2010. In my current role as Vice President - Brand Development Restaurants, Umak Hospitality, I am glad to look after the branding, marketing and development of various restaurant brands under our umbrella like, The Great Kabab Factory, The Spice Factory, Indyaki, Sino Kitchen and Superstars.
What according to you are skills needed to be a successful franchise professional?
= A thorough know how of the business, so as to be able to critically and analytically judge the feasibility of the project and possibility of success in the venture.
= The most important aspect of franchising is the support offered by the franchisor to the franchisee.
= One strategy that helped you create a successful franchise network?
Identifying the correct partner is the key to strenthen your franchise network.
How do you ensure that there is ongoing communication between the brand head office and its franchise partners?
In our business model, all franchisees share their daily sales report on everyday basis with the head office. Any variations if found, are immediately discussed with the franchisee in question and addressed accordingly. On marketing front, we extend an ongoing support throughout the year to all our franchisees in the form of vanilla branding, development of unit specific promotional kits, advertisements, PR etc.
What major hurdles have you faced while building a franchise network? How did you go about addressing those issues?
Increased rentals and real estate have been a serious challenge in the process of franchising. This rise in rentals have in return increased the project cost of upcoming restaurants and operating cost of existing ones. To combat this issue, we have launched more restaurant brands, like, The Spice Factory and Sino Kitchen with a lesser project cost that are also suitable for tier I and II cities. We have been very successful with The Spice Factory and have already opened first outlet in Lucknow, and are coming up with many more outlets in Mumbai, Ludhiana and other places.