Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Restaurant franchises were -- and are -- Kam Kela's choice in the franchise industry. But his first effort, three Subway locations, didn't pan out because Kela felt that that market was already saturated. Then, he came across the Freshii healthy eating concept and was hooked. Along the way, he honed his customer relationship skills -- skills he first formed working weekends at flea markets.
Name: Kam Khela
Franchise owned: Three Freshii stores total: two in downtown Toronto and one location in the city's suburbs
How long have you owned a franchise?
I started with Subway in 2006. I owned three locations with my brother. I sold them because the market was already saturated and there was no room for growth. I came across Freshii in 2010 and was excited by the new and exciting concept.
The structure is already set. They do the legwork to get something off the ground. You find a location and go from there. I love how the Freshii brand evolves, and being a part of that evolution.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was a logistics manager for two to three years.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I accidentally bumped into it. The look and feel of the stores drew me in. What I liked the most was the concept of a quick-service, healthy, fast-food restaurant. I thought it was the way of the future and the direction that consumers are going.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
My total was $228,000. A breakdown of that amount would show a $30,000 franchise fee; $70,000 for equipment, including POS; $120,000 for build-out and $8,000 for marketing and beginning inventories
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I learned a lot of what I know about customer service from working weekends at flea markets. How you interact with the customer will make you or break you. Freshii provides me with hands-on learning every day. I learn the most from my experiences in the stores.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
For me, the biggest challenge was opening a store in a brand new plaza where there was no organic foot traffic. I had to help develop foot traffic for the whole plaza, as well as Freshii.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
You have to believe in the product. It makes everything a lot easier. Devote yourself to your business for the first two to three years after opening. Be hands-on, and be there daily in the trenches.
What’s next for you and your business?