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Franchisee gets a slice (or four) of the action

A success story built on acquiring multiple Roman’s Pizza stores.

Although Basil Kassimatis has been with Roman’s Pizza for just three years, he has built up a portfolio of four stores in relatively short order: one each in Alberton, Edenvale, Meadowvale and Kempton Park, all in Gauteng.

The key to success in any food franchise is site location. “The site location has to suit the brand and its market to a tee. It has to have visibility and accessibility, and that applies to the whole site so that it is easy for customers to come to you,” says Kassimatis. “If the site is good, you’re going to make money.”

Roman’s Pizza was founded in 1993 when Arthur Nicolakakis bought a struggling pizzeria and turned it around, introducing strong branding and standard operational processes that are critical to success in any franchising endeavour. His goal was to provide the best quality pizza at the lowest price. Menu items are priced from around R20 up to just less than R50 for the more expensive items.

Today, Roman’s Pizza has more than 220 stores nationwide, and continues to expand each year, following the tried-and-tested formula Nicolakakis refined and honed back in 1993: fresh dough daily, and a choice between thick or thin base, as well as a more recent addition: gluten-free dough.

Keeping up with the times, online ordering is now available at selected stores and will soon be rolled out countrywide. The primary menu item is pizza, but in more than 30 variations and sizes, is augmented by pasta dishes, salads and desserts.

Roman’s Pizza’s offering is unique, says Kassimatis. “Most people think you buy one and get one free. You are not getting one free. You are getting two products for the price of one. This gives the customer freedom of choice, value, and the whole family gets to enjoy it, hot and fresh.”

Roman’s Pizza is a family brand, owned and operated by the original family. A home-grown South African brand that still has that home-cooked flavour, this pan-based pizza has a chunky feel, like you made it at home.

Kassimatis says head office provides full support to the franchisee in terms of pricing, marketing, and the regular supply of ingredients, as well as staff training.

Among the challenges of running a food franchise are maintaining consistency of supply at the expected quality, and ensuring that service is exemplary. That means ongoing staff training, not just as new employees are taken on board.

“As a single store franchisee, your goal is to open multiple stores,” says Kassimatis. “Multiple stores is the way to go. You basically categorise yourself as a brand manager, so you can go from single to multiple brand, but things can get complicated, so sometimes it’s better to keep things lean and simple.”

Then, of course, there is the matter of choosing the right banking partner to see you through your early growth phase. “Without the right bank, you’re in trouble. Nowadays the support is much better in terms of the product and the integration [of banking services] into your business. Times get tough, you have your ups and your downs, so you need a bank that gives you support.”

Brought to you by Nedbank Franchising.

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