Building sustainable success
A year after purchasing my franchise, I had worked hard to significantly increase its revenue. Pizza Pizza noticed my success and the company offered me a second existing franchise within the city. I accepted, but ended up selling the restaurant after two years. I found it difficult to manage my time between the locations while still maintaining a good work-life balance. In those two years, however, I was able to increase the store’s annual revenue by more than 40 per cent.
After selling the second location, I was able to focus entirely on my first franchise and continue to build the business.
Much of my restaurant’s success stems from connecting with the local community and establishing personal relationships. The store is located in a neighbourhood with a large Portuguese population, so when there was a big game between Portugal and the U.S. during the 2014 World Cup I was sure to televise it in the restaurant. Beyond that, I hung up Portuguese flags and decals to show my customers that I was in the spirit.
I always do what I can to fulfil specific requests and requirements. Recently, a woman came into the store and asked if I would be willing to make her a crust-less pizza. She said she’d eaten it in the U.S. and really enjoyed it, but couldn’t find a restaurant in Toronto that was willing to make it for her. I said I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I’d give it a try. It turned out beautiful, and she was so happy. She took my picture and shared the story on social media, and within four hours more than 3000 people had “liked” it.
Maintaining a good relationship with local community members is important, as it puts a face to the franchise and helps strengthen personal ties. I support and donate to a number of local groups, ranging from schools, to churches, to emergency services.
A team effort
In 2015, Jabbor suggested we purchase a Pizza Pizza restaurant together and become co-franchisees. He had recently graduated from Sheridan College in Brampton, Ont., with a diploma in Police Foundations, but had continued to work with me on weekends while he was studying. Jabbor wasn’t interested in a career in law enforcement. He had seen how successful I had been with my franchise and wanted to put in the hard work and do the same. I told Jabbor I would love to partner with him, but that he would have to manage the day-to-day operations at the store himself—I wasn’t interested in splitting my time between two locations again!
Jabbor agreed, and we approached head office. We finalized a deal on an existing franchise in Toronto and Jabbor began the same eight-week training I had taken.
In February 2016, we took over the store. We were very happy with the location, as it was adjacent to a hospital and we knew we would see plenty of foot traffic. Within a year, we had significantly increased the franchise’s revenue.
Hard work rewarded
I’m very happy to be part of a system that recognizes the effort and successes of its franchisees. In 2010, Pizza Pizza honoured me with its Operator of the Year Award at a convention in Las Vegas. Then, in 2017, I received Pizza Pizza’s Franchisee of the Year Award at the company’s 50th anniversary celebration in Jamaica.
I’ve also been fortunate to maintain strong, friendly relationships with other franchisees in the system. Pizza Pizza holds annual meetings at its head office, which I’m always sure to attend, and franchisees are invited to share ideas to improve operations. I’m glad to be part of a system that values the opinions and experiences of its franchisees and continually asks for feedback.
Business as usual
I still work hard every day to ensure my customers are receiving the best food and service possible. I’m at my store every Monday morning at 5 a.m. to receive our large weekly delivery, and then I put all of the ingredients away before the cook comes in at 9 a.m. We generally receive three more deliveries of fresh ingredients, beverages, and other supplies throughout the week.
Between the two locations, Jabbor and I employ about 40 full-time, part-time, and contract workers. Nonetheless, we are typically in our respective restaurants from pre-open to close every day. We oversee all operations and perform jobs as needed, from deliveries, to food preparation, to running the cash register.
The greatest challenge of running the business has been ensuring we have sufficient delivery staff. To maintain consistency, Pizza Pizza does not outsource its food delivery. Fortunately, most of my drivers have been with me since the beginning—going on 10 years now—but it’s still challenging on days like Super Bowl Sunday when things are exceptionally busy.
Despite the challenges, being a franchisee has allowed me the freedom that comes with being my own boss. I’ve established a trusted team of employees, and this support helps ensure things run smoothly day-to-day. Finding reliable people has also helped me to achieve a good work-life balance. I’m able to take a week-long vacation in Dubai twice a year and feel confident the store is in good hands. Plus, thanks to technology, I’m able to stay in constant contact with my team to ensure everything is all right—I can even check on the store through my phone via a live video feed!
Moving forward, I’m always looking to expand, but time and availability is, of course, a factor. I don’t want to stretch myself too thin. If the right opportunity were to present itself, I would consider it, but for now I’m content to continue to run two of the most successful franchises in the Pizza Pizza system!
Haji Samadi is a multi-unit Pizza Pizza franchisee based in Ontario. He can be reached at R107@pizzapizza.ca.