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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

Make Your Business A Good Neighbour

Take your business from invisible and struggling to a thriving neighbourhood landmark.

Richard Mukheibir

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Is your business invisible to your customers? You may have fewer customers than you would like because your business does not seem relevant to those in your neighbourhood. This is an even bigger mistake than not being able to reach beyond your direct trading area.

To appeal to people – customers – you should also present your business as a group of people who help other people. This can be helping supply them with goods they need to buy, helping provide them with loans or simply being a reassuring and consistent presence in your neighbourhood.

As our Local Area Marketing Manager, Juan Botha, tells Cash Converters’ franchisees, this is about blending and fitting in like a neighbour. It is about give and take. And all of that adds up to community engagement.

Related: Effective Ways To Bring Customers To Your Door

Here are six of his top tips:

  1. Introduce the family: Cultivate a friendly, welcoming atmosphere in your shop or office. Introduce new staff to regular customers. Make sure that new customers can get to know staff through your in-store welcome boards and name badges.
  2. Find your partners: Identify the gatekeepers in your community and create partnerships with them. Think about approaching sports clubs, schools, church groups, sewing circles and book clubs.
  3. Snatch some selfies: If you have local celebrities as customers, take a selfie and post it on your social media: “Guess who came to say hello today . . .” Build relationships with local heroes and you will be able to call on them to host your in-house fun day or charity drive.
  4. Give back to business: Be involved in local business chambers and groupings as more than a participant. Show you are a good business neighbour by facilitating speed networking, hosting a speaker or sponsoring a sound system or catering for the next meeting.
  5. Adopt a cause: Identify a local charity and rally support for it.
  6. Help the community: Launch or participate in a community project – anything from an area clean-up or helping repaint school classrooms to planting trees or a community vegetable garden.

Building relationships helps you build your business’s reputation. That is because you can make people start to feel a certain way about your business and influence them positively towards you. Then, when they need something that you supply, you will be top of mind.

That neighbourhood warmth creates a sense of ownership. These prospective customers will already know how you can benefit their lives and so are more likely to become your regular customers.

They will be acting on the fact that people remember you for the experience you give them. As top American writer Maya Angelou said, their memories will be shaped by how you make them feel – not how or what you make them think. Relationships may be intangible but they can bring real value to your business.

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Franchisors

Why Your Franchise Should Adopt A Shared Value Business Model

Stay ahead of the curve in an evolving business environment and unlock business growth by addressing social issues.

Diana Albertyn

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Have you heard the term ‘profit with purpose’ in your business ownership circles, but not sure how exactly it could be applied to your franchise? As a franchisor, entrenching this model into your core business strategy could see your current growth potential multiply – along with the communities that play a role in your business’ success.

“By leveraging resources, market access, scale and their capacity for innovation, businesses can advance and accelerate development while generating commercial returns.”– Serial entrepreneur Cindy Langeveld.

Considered the key to profit and progress, the shared value business model enables your franchise to go beyond just ticking the CSR box. Here’s why and how your franchise can start establishing partnerships for business growth:

Indicates your business has a conscience

Not only is a profit-first business approach is no longer viable for long-term business growth, the role of the consumer is becoming more prominent – and they are leaning towards buying from corporations that demonstrate conscientious business practices. Donating blankets to a charity is good, but how are you impacting those involved in the value chain that sustains your business?

Related: 3 Crucial Considerations For New Multi-unit Franchisees

Chicken franchise chain Nando’s, for example, creates shared value for the key players in the success of their brand – the small farmers in Southern Africa who farm their unique African Bird’s Eye Chillies used in the PERi-PERi flavour.

This farming initiative was started ten years ago in Mozambique with just six small farms. Today it includes 1400 farmers and produces in excess of 360 tonnes of chilli across Southern Africa.

Ensures your profit creates progress

nandos-peri-peri-farming-initiativeWhile implementing shared value business models helps consumers see your business in a better light, it’s important for the initiatives that stem from it have a visible, positive and measurable impact on the communities concerned.

“I’ll never forget my first impact assessment. I sat with one of our farmers and a translator who told me about the impact growing chilli crops for Nando’s was having on his life and his community” recalls Sam Hirst, Nando’s PERi-PERi Farming Initiative Manager.

Nando’s has grown and sustained its network of farmers through learning and improving on the process, despite the challenges involved. Empowering the small farmer has required unprecedented effort and working very closely with farmers every day and every step of the way to overcome challenges such as generating working capital to set up the infrastructure the farmers needed, managing unpredictable weather conditions, and high transactional costs.

Related: Why Your Franchise Brand Should Be Culturally Relevant

Creates sustainable partnerships

The purpose of implementing a shared value business model is so make a sustainable difference in both your business’ growth and that of the communities involved in your supply chain. For Nando’s the motivation was the potential impact the chilli farming could have in its communities.

The franchise has consequently invested in providing these farmers with the tools and skills for sustainable farming. Investing in technologies and various new processes has enabled Nando’s to secure prices and contracts directly with the farmers, avoiding potential negative economic impact on the farmers’ financial security.

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Franchisors

3 Employment Best Practices To Apply In Your Franchise

Brand new to franchising? As a first-time franchisee, you may need some guidance on managing your recruitment processes within your business.

Diana Albertyn

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You’ve just hired your first few employees. Congratulations. As an owner-operator who is also new to business ownership, navigating the human resources aspect of your franchise may be daunting, especially when growth is imminent. Your franchisor offers support, but may not want to play a huge role in recruiting and managing your staff.

“Employee management and HR compliance is a tricky topic, especially with the relationship between franchisors and franchisees. Depending on what HR support the franchisor can and cannot provide, the franchisee may be on their own in this all-important area.” – Dean Haller, President and founder of HRSentry

This, however, doesn’t mean you’ll have to blindly search your way through human resources practices, hoping you’ll eventually get it right. Invest a little time into learning the basics, and you’ll make the best decisions until you can afford to hire an HR specialist – and pick up some expertise along the way.

1. Equip newcomers with the tools for success

Consider the type of information, tools and training your new recruits may need to function productively in their new work environment – and ensure they get it. “Studies indicate that most new employees decide whether to stay or leave a company within the first six months, so be sure to be welcoming early on to help them feel part of your team,” advises Haller.

Related: Why Your Franchise Brand Should Be Culturally Relevant

“If you’re thoughtful of your employees’ new experience, they will become more productive and engaged, and thus, more likely to stay.”

Remember the first time you went through the manuals while familiarising yourself with the franchise concept? A new employees’ experience is similar as they have to take in a lot of new information while acquainting themselves with their new workspace, colleagues and systems. Make the on-boarding easier, by reasonably introducing each aspect during orientation and training.

2. Remain stern on performance standards

Once both parties are satisfied with the training and support offered, new staff should be made aware of expectations and receive continuous and constructive feedback on their performance based on these.

Should employees fail to meet their KPIs, it’s important you’re able to identify if your best efforts have failed and whether termination is an option. “Don’t procrastinate. Make sure all performance-related reasons are documented clearly,” says Haller. “Treat the person with dignity and respect –not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s good business practice and can help you avoid any potential legal action against your business in the future.”

You can avoid this situation early on by hiring employees whose CVs not only meet your business’ operational needs, your company culture too.

Related: As Consumers’ Tastes Change Can Your Franchise Keep Up?

3. Acknowledge and reward hard work

During key periods of business growth, it’s easy to overlook good performance. And even when you acknowledge your best employees, sometimes money in the bank isn’t as meaningful as creative tokens of appreciation.

“Get creative,” says Haller. “Provide flexible work schedules, interesting assignments, or a gift certificate to a great restaurant or spa. Be mindful that it’s costly to replace a good employee, so reward your employees with some kind of benefits if you can,” he adds.

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