How to start a hospitality franchise

How to start a hospitality franchise

Ali Mubarak is the CEO of Sania Group, a leading multi-unit franchisee. Establishing Sania Group in 2013, Ali has a wealth of experience in franchising and leading large teams across multiple locations. The franchise group started with a single site and has evolved to incorporate more than 400 employees across the UK. Ali has built up a portfolio of brands including Pizza Hut Delivery, German Doner Kebab, You Me Sushi and will soon be launching the Italian coffee brand Cafe Barbera. 

How to start a hospitality franchise

Ali spoke with Modern Hospitality, sharing top tips on how to start a hospitality franchise.

1. Tell us more about yourself and how you became involved in franchising:

I started out at a KFC restaurant whilst studying at university, then over the next 11 years I progressed through the ranks ending up as an Area Manager. Throughout this time, I was learning both the food industry rules and regulations and what it took to run a food establishment day to day operationally. Staffing, cost controls and local marketing strategies were key parts of my day-to-day responsibilities which gave me the insight to understand how the franchise models worked and how to operate them successfully. I started my journey with Pizza Hut in June 2013 with just a single site in Banbury and have since developed the business into the multi-unit franchise group we operate today.

2. What are the steps of launching a franchise site?

Finding the right brand with the right offering for your skillset, my career in the food and hospitality industry gave me the understanding of what I was looking for personally. Researching the brand and speaking to current operators to see their thoughts on the brand and the products sold was also helpful to me when starting out. Discussing Brands with the banks and what financial support they offer when starting out is also a good starting point, this will ultimately assist with longer term cash flow benefits and aiding in launching properly. Lastly is property, size, layout, and location will be a crucial part to a successful outcome, knowing your potential locations demographics for footfall and if the residents are your preferred target audience will give both you and the brand confidence to move forward.

3. What would your top tips be for somebody wanting to start their own franchise?

I can’t say it enough, research, investigate all avenues of the business from how the brand and its products are perceived through to growth and location opportunities within. The more planning and research you do the more straightforward the opportunity becomes.

4. Give us an insight into funding a franchise

Most Franchise businesses have general arrangements with Banks or Asset Finance businesses as part of their offering, consider what suits your personal circumstances and what other franchisees have done to launch their businesses in this field.

5. What have been the greatest lessons you have learnt from the pandemic?

The ability to adapt. Throughout the pandemic, we read about the closures of big brand names due to their inability to change rapidly. Having a strong team that can drive positive change quickly and efficiently has led to considerable growth for many in the fast-food industry. The pandemic has highlighted that brands need to stay nimble and be ready to change management strategies, or risk stagnating and making the same errors. Those who adapt readily will be those who thrive in the coming years.

Is the franchise model right for you?

Now you have heard first-hand from Ali about how to start a hospitality franchise, it is time to continue your research to determine whether starting a hospitality franchise business would work for you.