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How Chicken Xpress Kept It Fresh with A Fuss-Free Approach To Fast Food

In a tough market, Chicken Xpress has managed to establish itself by offering a fresh and fuss-free approach to fast food franchising. Entrepreneur spoke to founder Devon Scoulelis about the franchise.

GG van Rooyen

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Vital stats

  • Player: Devon Scoulelis
  • Franchise: Chicken Xpress
  • Established: 2011
  • Visit: chickenxpress.co.za

Can you give us a brief history of Chicken Xpress?

Chicken Xpress is a proudly South African brand, and the first store was opened in Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal in 2011. We started the brand because we wanted to try and accomplish two things. Firstly, we wanted to provide consumers with a fresh approach to fried chicken — to expand on local flavours and influences.

Secondly, we wanted to offer prospective business owners a well-priced business opportunity that would make the ownership of a fast food franchise accessible to a larger segment of the South African population. We wanted to offer a franchise at a lower price point, while still making sure that Chicken Xpress stays a professional and aspirational brand.

Related: Chicken Xpress On Plucking Up The Courage To Franchise

How has Chicken Xpress grown and evolved since its creation?

chicken-xpress-franchise-south-africa

We’ve enjoyed a lot of positive feedback from both consumers and franchisees, and the brand has grown nicely since inception.

We now have around 20 stores in several provinces. We also have stores in Botswana, and we’d like to expand into other parts of Africa in the near future.

We have an aggressive growth strategy that’ll hopefully see our number of stores shoot into the hundreds in the next five years. That said, Chicken Xpress is spreading across the country through a well implemented and sustainable store roll-out programme. The Chicken Xpress brand is truly South African and has its values firmly based around local communities.

All stores will be conveniently located in high volume emerging market trading areas, on busy nodal transport interchanges and/or in busy shopping centres.

Strict criteria are applied in evaluating target store locations, including the presence of key national anchor tenants and major national retail groups.

What makes Chicken Xpress unique? How is it different from other similar franchises?

It is a no frills, no fuss, keeping-it-simple African franchise. At Chicken Xpress, while we have tremendous respect for international brands that have had global success, our aim is to build a truly African brand — something by Africans for Africans. There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit that runs through our brand and we have the utmost respect for entrepreneurs, both those who are starting out, and the well-established.

Our business model is easily accessible, even for those who are new to entrepreneurship. Compared to many similar franchises, a Chicken Xpress franchise is quite affordable and boasts relatively low barriers to entry. We are looking for new and enthusiastic entrepreneurs who want to grow alongside the brand.

We believe that awesome brands are built by ordinary people who are passionate about delivering the extraordinary. We want hands-on franchisees who love the brand and live to serve. Ultimately, we want to be one of the most-loved brands in South Africa.

Related: Chicken Xpress Franchise Opportunity

What makes a Chicken Xpress franchise a solid investment?

chicken-xpress-franchise-investment-opportunity

It is one of the few fast-food franchises that is open and accessible to emerging entrepreneurs. We also have a proven track record, as well as low investment costs, and excellent returns for franchisees. Chicken Xpress head office has a strong passion to grow franchisees across the country.

Franchising has proven itself an excellent system in assisting the nation to decrease its unemployment rate, and grow its people through a sustainable and proven model.

Can you give us some idea of the fees involved in setting up a Chicken Xpress franchise?

The base cost of a franchise is R895 000, and for that you get a full turn-key store, from set-up to store opening. There is an initial joining fee of R85 000 that has to be paid on-site, and franchise approval.

Once head office has approved the site and received the initial joining fee, we will then do a full store costing. This final costing will then be presented to the franchisee, and full payment of the balance is then due. One month later, we will be able to open your new Chicken Xpress store.

What does this price include?

The total cost makes provision for store design, staff training and launch promotions, which encapsulates virtually everything that a new franchisee needs.

Store design includes things like drawings and layouts, as well as full management of the build process. So, we help with shop-fitting, equipment and signage. Then we also provide a lot of on-site training and support ahead of the opening.

We do things like help train staff and provide them with uniforms, and create marketing material for the grand opening.

Related: Chicken Xpress – The ‘No Frills, No-Fuss, Keeping-It-Simple Franchise’

Can you tell us more about the training involved?

chicken-xpress-franchisee-training

Franchisees and staff will be required to attend an intensive one-week training programme held at a designated Chicken Xpress store. Approximately six employees will be required per store, depending on trading hours.

All elements involved in running a Chicken Xpress store, including operations, stock control, marketing, management and staffing will be covered.

Once your store is up and running, head office will send experienced trainers to help you during the first three days of operation. As a franchisee, we want you to be in business for yourself, but not by yourself. So, the help and support doesn’t end there.

As the franchisors, we’ll always be there to assist our franchisees. We want to grow Chicken Xpress across the continent, and this means ensuring that our franchisees are successful.

Can you describe your ideal franchisee? What are the skills and traits you look for?

An ideal Chicken Xpress franchisee displays strong leadership and interpersonal skills, and is able to make positive decisions for his or her business. An ideal franchisee remains resilient and has a strong ability to motivate team members.

We want franchisees who are passionate about the brand and the long-term strategy we have at Chicken Xpress. We also want them to be hands-on, which will allow them to really get to know the business.

We ultimately want as many franchisees as possible to own multiple units through successful stores, and grow with the Chicken Xpress family for many years to come.

Related: Xpress Operation On A Roll

Can you tell us about the three Ps of Chicken Xpress?

Firstly, we believe in people. We look to grow Chicken Xpress people across each and every Chicken Xpress community. This includes franchisees, staff, suppliers and customers across the country. We have numerous community projects in operation that look to back each local Chicken Xpress community.

Secondly, we focus on product. While safeguarding our core offering of truly delicious products, we also want to grow our menu and cater to more tastes. Lastly, we care about the planet. Chicken Xpress believes that it has a responsibility to the planet, and wants to assist local communities in growing awareness of recycling and the preservation of resources.

Many businesses strive for profit, and profit is certainly important, but we believe that if you look after your people, your product and the planet, profit will follow.

What does a franchise cost?

Initial fee: R85 000
Base cost: R850 000
Monthly

royalty fee:

5% of

turnover

Monthly

marketing fee:

1,5% of

turnover

Recommended staff: 6 employees
Average

store size:

80m2
Other costs: Rent deposit payable to landlord
For more information:

Email: info@chickenxpress.co.za

Visit: www.chickenxpress.co.za

Call: +27 (0)31 263 0045

GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

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Franchisors

Get Your Franchise Running Smoothly – Even When You’re Not There

Does the thought of taking time off from your franchise outlet make you nervous? Then you have to learn to run your business instead of letting it run you.

Diana Albertyn

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“A sign of a successful business is one that can operate without your physical presence 24/7,” says Brad Sugars, start-up expert, author and founder of ActionCOACH. While your franchise systems and operations are designed to run smoothly and consistently, is your staff trained to be productive in your absence?

“Franchises are already by nature systematised operations, so it boils down to how you as a business owner hire and train people to get the necessary jobs done,” says Sugars.

If you know a sick day will cause havoc in your store, an assessment of how you’re running your business is needed. Are you really running a successful franchise if things fall about without your supervision? Take a step back and consider the following steps to manage your franchise without it controlling your life. Pretty soon you could book that vacation.

Determine your role in the franchise

Are you managing the franchise, taking orders, doing admin and handling every other aspect of the business? Then you’re not hiring the right people, because those roles should be filled by people who can be left to carry them out unsupervised.

Related: How To Write An Operations Manual For Your Franchise

“And if you don’t have the right people for the job then it might be time to start hiring, so you can free up your franchise’s most valuable resource – you,” says Pieter Scholtz, co-Master Licensee for ActionCOACH in Southern Africa.

“You need to get an idea of how you can hire people to take repetitive or administrative tasks away from you. Ask yourself: ‘Do I really need to be doing this?’” says Sugars. Your business cannot run optimally if you’re the single most-knowledgeable and capable person there.

Lead with clarity

You have long-term goals for your business, perhaps even acquiring more locations and running multiple units. While growth is good, you need to share the load and ensure everyone employed in your business is working towards the same goals, otherwise, it’ll be difficult to get there. Sugars suggests asking yourself the following:

  • How will you make your vision a reality?
  • What makes you different from other franchisees and business owners?
  • What kind of team do you want to recruit and create?
  • How does all of this deliver value to your customer?

Conveying your vision can help ensure employees know how to get to the end-goal faster and more efficiently.

Related: 3 Steps To Ensure Your Franchisees Flourish Your Support System

Plan for long-term cash flow

Loyal customers ensure a constant flow of cash through the franchise and this requires exceptional service and the building of strong relationships. “Target your top-spending customers and establish a good relationship with them for long-term cash flow,” Sugars suggests.

Although the broader campaigns are covered by the marketing fee you’re paying to your franchisor, it’s wise to focus on your local’s tastes and suggestions when looking to deliver an experience worth returning for.

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Franchisors

Are Your Employees On Board With Your Franchise’s Brand Promise?

You cannot run a successful franchise if your staff isn’t aligned to the brand’s values.

Diana Albertyn

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Are the people who work in your franchise outlet familiar with the franchise’s brand promise? As a franchisee, you’re required to deliver a uniform experience, so any customer who walks through your door feels like they’re at the same store the franchisor has across multiple locations. If your employees aren’t able to embody the franchise’s brand promise at every interaction, you have a challenge on hand.

“If your company’s brand promise is a warm and friendly atmosphere, you can’t deliver that if your employees aren’t warm and friendly,” says Robin William, Senior Practice Consultant at Gallup.

“Selecting the right employees is essential to providing the right brand service. Hiring people who can’t behave the way the brand wants them to will doom a service initiative.”

Related: How To Write An Operations Manual For Your Franchise

When employees know what’s expected of them, they’re able to keep the promise the franchise makes to customers – leading to higher customer and employee engagement, trust, and revenue.

More than a mission statement

Even if you’ve ensured every one of your staff members know the brand’s mission statement, how can you be sure they’re able to exemplify it in their behaviour every day? William suggests that you do the following:

  • Create structures and mechanisms to consistently instil brand values in the franchise’s culture.
  • Discuss brand behaviours daily.
  • Demonstrate brand behaviours yourself every day.
  • Praise the efforts of individuals who demonstrate brand behaviours.
  • Hold employees accountable for not exhibiting brand behaviours.

Once you’ve clearly defined the right brand behaviours, it’ll be easier to have staff on board who deliver your franchisor’s brand promise.

Internalise the culture

Here’s a conundrum. Do your staff know what to do in a situation where a customer’s request might not be aligned with the brand promise, but the brand promise is always to deliver on customers’ requests? It’s a tricky situation, but if you’ve clearly articulated the promise, your staff will know how to “Behave the brand”, says William.

“Do whatever it takes to deliver on its brand promise. Whether it’s focusing quality, fast service, customer care, or low prices,” he says.

“Employees must execute brand and service behaviours consistently, and frequent reminders can help employees understand and internalise these behaviours.”

Related: 3 Challenges To Establishing A Franchise System And How To Overcome Them

Empower your staff

Investing in your staff is the best way to encourage them to act in line with your brand’s promise. Once they understand why it’s important to act along the lines of your brand, they will feel empowered and motivated to do so.

Starbucks trains employees to memorise customers’ names and preferences in line with their promise of making everyone who visits their stores feel at home. Apple’s strategy of hiring nice, smart people who are passionate about service and the product aligns with the company’s belief that knowledge can be improved, but personality cannot.

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Franchisors

How To Write An Operations Manual For Your Franchise

After establishing that your business is franchise material, ensure you’ve created a clear roadmap to success for your franchisees.

Diana Albertyn

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Documenting the replicability of your business is key to launching a viable franchise operation. Without manuals and instructions on how exactly you carried out your concept to its current level of success, your franchisees won’t accomplish the results you anticipate.

“Unless you can capture your business on paper, you cannot claim to have a business system to sell. Even detailed documentation may not be enough,” says Franchise Direct’s Lorraine Courtney.

“You may need to provide structured education programmes for new franchisees and their staff to teach them your business system.”

With the help of an experienced franchise consultant, you can devise the critical document that contains all the aspects of what make your brand successful.

Related: 3 Challenges To Establishing A Franchise System And How To Overcome Them

Why you need a franchise operations manual

If you’re second-guessing the importance of crafting an operations manual, then you shouldn’t go into franchising. “Your operations manual is your go-to document for deciding who is responsible for what in any franchisor-franchisee relationship,” says Dani Peleva, Managing Director at online marketing agency, Local Fame.

According to Peleva, your manual should generally include each franchisee’s contractual obligations to you as well as the complete details on how you expect them to fulfil these obligations.

“On a basic level, it tells your franchisees what you expect of them. It gives them all the information that you’ve accumulated while operating your franchise,” says Peleva. After familiarising themselves with this manual, franchisees should know how the information can be used to build their own business up to be as successful as the original store.

What an operations manual will do for your business

When all your franchisees know what’s expected from them as they run their respective locations, the entire brand is then able to provide a cohesive, coherent customer experience, which is crucial to your success as a franchisor.

A good manual will also help you build better relationships with your franchisees as they won’t need to constantly contact you to clarify aspects of the business they’re not sure of. If they’re applying the information in the manual, they should know everything you know about how to run this type of business, meaning they’ll make good profits – for you and themselves.

Related: 3 Steps To Ensure Your Franchisees Flourish Your Support System

“One of the steps most potential franchisees make before signing an agreement will be to contact your other franchisees. A strong manual will help your current franchisees return positive feedback,” adds Peleva.

How to decide which elements to include

Obligations detailed in your franchisee agreement will have to correspond with steps on how to achieve them in your franchise manual. As a new franchisor, you cannot be expected to have a manual as thick and wordy as your established counterparts.

Peleva suggests covering aspects such as:

  • How to set up a franchisee location and start trading
  • How daily operations will be conducted
  • How development or expansion will be controlled.

“Your operations manual should always include as much detail as possible regarding operational practices that are to be followed,” says Peleva. “A simple list item that states ‘this obligation must be fulfilled’ is not helpful. Looks always to the ‘how’ of the issue and you’ll cover everything you need to.”

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