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Hitching your entrepreneurial aspirations to a star

Franchising makes it easy, but what exactly is in a brand?

It’s a question that has inspired countless books and theories, and still we come up short on the answers. Why are names such as Google, Apple and Microsoft so universally accepted and trusted? How is it that the Rolling Stones keep packing out stadiums when other worthies of the rock ’n roll era have faded into obscurity?

Marketing guru Mitch Joel sums up brand success as follows: “For me, a brand is the complete experience and manifestation that a company produces, and how it is then internalised by the consumer.”

What makes a brand successful is something that the executives at Fournews have explored from the very beginning. When it comes to food franchising, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the customer. The menu must dazzle and tantalise, the comfort and décor must be inviting, the service must be welcoming and friendly.

But this may still not be enough to guarantee success, says Manny Nichas, manager of new business at Fournews.

“We learnt that South Africans demand a full and satisfying experience when it comes to dining, and they want that same experience repeated every time they return to a restaurant,” he says. “So to stay on top of trends, you need to be surveying customers regularly and understand changes in taste and in the kind of experience they expect. I think this is where we have been particularly good at understanding our markets.”

Read: SA’s food franchising sector among ‘best in the world’

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is a US franchise that signed a master licensing agreement with Fournews just over a year ago. Since then, 12 outlets have been rolled out, with another dozen planned for opening over the next year. Two of the 12 are factory stores baking doughnuts for the remaining outlets, which are able to operate out of smaller premises. The concept was an instant success, even though the Krispy Kreme brand was not well known in SA other than by those who had visited the US.

“You have high up-front costs with an international franchise, and the master licence agreement will often have aggressive expansion obligations,” says Nichas, “but at the same time you are getting the benefit of a tried and tested formula from the international head office.”

Read: Taking the leap of investment in a franchise

The remainder of Fournews’ six brands are home-grown. The newer brands – Hello Tomato and Brooklyn Brothers – require time and marketing to gain market traction, but this is where Fournews’ experience in franchising comes into play. The new operations are able to benefit from centralised logistics provided by Fournews Logistics, the in-house manufacturer and distributer of ingredients and supplies to the group’s 76 stores.

Like most franchising companies, Fournews operates a number of company-owned stores. This is crucial to testing new concepts before rolling them out to the franchisees. These are also flagship stores, and are used for training and setting quality standards.

News Cafe has a string of awards to its name, including the International Design Award for Restaurants and Pubs. There’s no room for complacency when it comes to branding, which is why News Cafe recently revamped its brand, and Moyo is being re-cast as Moyo Urban to provide a somewhat scaled-down version of the existing and rather cavernous restaurants that have become synonymous with fine African cuisine.

Where does Nichas see Fournews in five years’ time? “We will obviously have many more stores, but to do that we will have to offer value to customers and to franchisees,” he says. “That means we must remain relevant and responsive to shifting market trends, and keep ourselves in touch with our customers and franchisees. If we do that well, the sky’s the limit.”

Brought to you by Nedbank Franchising.

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