Watch this video on Trudi van Niekerk, Nando’s, with advice on running a company.
- Player: Trudi van Niekerk
- Position: Business Development Director
- Company: Nando’s
- Visit: nandos.co.za
Running a company — regardless of size — in South Africa can be challenging. Resource constraints, economic and political uncertainty all make consumer spending rather conservative at times. Nando’s Business Development Director Trudi van Niekerk knows this.
“The biggest daily challenge is that we are people-reliant, so we are driven to make the guest experience a good one,” says Van Niekerk.
“We ensure the guest leaves with the best possible experience, even if the staff is having a bad day.”
Nando’s knows what it’s doing. Van Niekerk says it’s about the people who make the chicken. “We invest heavily in our people; our Nandocas. Be it training or taking care of their basic needs such as health care and ongoing education.” It’s a differentiator that has seen the franchise chain continuing to grow year-on-year, even with the massive amount of global competition flooding the market.
“We operate in a very competitive environment and over the past 30 years many large international food brands have entered the local market,” affirms Van Niekerk.
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“Despite this, we have shown very impressive growth in both sales and market share in recent years. We have invested heavily in our brand and today it is one of the most loved brands in South Africa. We never compromise on product quality and we truly believe we sell the best tasting flame grilled peri-peri chicken in the world.”
Keeping the brand grounded
“Nando’s owns a third of its existing footprint, which helps it to stay in touch with its market and the restaurant business model, which in turn, benefits franchisees,” says Van Niekerk. Not only does this mean the company will suffer most if the business goes awry, but it’s a great way to try out new products and ideas without using franchisees’ funds.
“It provides us with a great platform for trialling new staff incentives, looking at different layouts and testing new menu products’ viability.”
Nando’s has established itself in around 21 countries and plans to continue expansion in the near future, along with rolling out a lot more of its drive-thru models, which have proven very successful within the South African market, according to Van Niekerk.
“We’re potentially taking that idea into other markets we’re currently trading in. We’re also very focused on some new menu innovation ideas.”
Van Niekerk delves further into Nando’s success, future plans, and how Nedbank is helping to get them there.
Why is it important for successful franchises to have a strong relationship with their banking partners, and how does it benefit both the franchisor and the franchisee?
Having a strong relationship with their banking partners is critical for franchisees as it will assist them both in their short-term cash flow needs as well as their future growth plans. They need to have a financial partner that understands their business and can advise them of the best funding or investment mechanisms.
Nedbank’s Franchise Division has built up a strong track record and understanding of franchised businesses over the years. They understand the financial implications of a franchised business and are geared to tailor-make banking packages for a particular brand.
What attracts franchisees to Nando’s?
The important thing in business is to have a business model that works. Franchisees need a healthy pay-back period so that they can generate a good return on investment. In addition to this, we provide a strong support base to our franchised system.
What are some of your biggest achievements that other franchise brands can learn from?
We have always stuck to our core values, namely pride, passion, courage, integrity and family. Those values are the point from which we make all of our business decisions, and act as a guiding light, no matter what challenges or innovations we are facing.
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What role do your marketing campaigns and social media presence play in your success as a business?
Our ads define and create the brand character that is Nando’s. We have become a social commentary brand in SA and we can say what other people are thinking. But we never lose sight of the fact that the goal of the advertising is to get guests to the restaurants, and to make people remember and think about the brand.
Fundamentally we are a brand that cares about the things that most South Africans care about, and so when we’re ‘firing things up’ (be it online or on TV) we are connecting with the hearts of our consumers. That connection builds brand love and has built the Nando’s business you know and love today.
Banking on success
“Nedbank has made a significant contribution to our business, especially in supporting us and our franchise base to effect changes, which keep us ahead of the pack,” says Van Niekerk.
“They understand franchising and individual franchisees’ needs. They don’t lose sight of the fact that they’re banking a brand and they give the franchisee the benefit of being part of a bigger umbrella organisation.
“Nedbank has been a key business partner to Nando’s over the years. This helped us to grow both the brand and our franchisees.”