Before becoming the youngest Fresh Burger franchisee in the company’s history, Armaan Divecha was an unmotivated student, dragging his feet to his university classes.
“I took some courses and considered a few majors, but school wasn’t really motivating me,” Divecha says. “I was feeling as if I wasn’t being challenged enough.”
Though he ended up graduating with a General Arts Degree, the traditional career path – go to school, get a 9 to 5 job – didn’t leave the 23-year-old all that inspired. What did ignite his interest, however, was the idea of owning a franchise. A specialty restaurant known for serving high-quality beef burgers and French fries, Divecha had been a loyal Fresh Burger customer for years. “One day, I decided to speak with the Fresh Burger owner, and I said ‘listen, I see that you’re running a franchise. I want to be a part of that.’”
After putting in a significant number of work hours in as a Fresh Burger employee, he did just that, opening his Vaughan, Ontario franchise.
“When you own your own business it can get scary because you don’t always have the answers. Having a supportive franchise that can guide you, especially during the first year of business, was very helpful for me.”
Who’s In Your Corner?
Nothing could have prepared Divecha for his first day as a franchisee. From the moment the restaurant doors opened, he and his team served long lineups of customers for hours on end. “Despite our extensive training, the staff was overwhelmed,” he recalls.
When Divecha recalls those first few days, he notes having to juggle the franchise’s accounting, bookkeeping, and operations, along with navigating the ins and outs of managing an age-diverse workforce for the first time. “Half of them were over 50 and the other half of the staff were under 25, and I was trying to get them to respect me, but also try-ing to be their friend. It felt like I was walking a very fine line.”
It was walking a fine line, however, that made Divecha realize what the franchise business model is all about. Divecha now knows he can count on his franchisor and fellow franchisees to lend a helping hand. Because at the end of the day, starting a business is challenging enough, and without a strong network in place the venture can be even more difficult.
“We meet up quarterly, and all the Fresh Burger franchisees have exchanged emails so I can always get advice or discuss a new idea with them whenever I need too. They are always around,” he says. “When you own your own business it can get scary because you don’t always have the answers. Having a supportive franchise that can guide you, especially during the first year of business, was very helpful for me.”
Luckily for this young entrepreneur, he not only has support from the franchise team, but also from his father.
“I really had to get help from my dad because between family and friends and a restaurant, it was hard to find time for everybody and manage my own time. He showed me how to set up files and spread-sheets, and so much of the operational tasks I wasn’t familiar with. I was pretty fortunate to have someone, like him, guide me through it all,” he says.
And though, like most business owners, Divecha has had to go through his fair share of rough patches, having so many people – not just his franchise network and father – in his corner has made all the difference. “I didn’t expect as many people to be supportive as they were for me, but people are. Sometimes they say ‘I can’t believe you’re so young’ and then they get happy about it. I guess that’s the benefit of being a young owner.”
A Fresh Perspective
Millennials get a lot of flak for their social media use, but as a Fresh Burger franchisee Divecha has received nothing but praise. Most recently, he played a pivotal role in the launch of Fresh Burger’s successful Facebook ad campaign.
“When I discussed the idea of creating a social media campaign with the franchise, at first they were hesitant,”explains Divecha. Due to his young age, Divecha finds that sometimes people don’t take him seriously. But if there’sone lesson he’s learned over the years it’s this: as longas you present a well-founded idea, people will listen, no matter the age. It’s the strategy Divecha used to securehis bank loan application for his Fresh Burger investment.
And it’s the same tactic he used when he approached the franchisor about launching a Fresh Burger social media campaign. “I could see the direction that the industry was going because all my news feeds were brands being sponsored by ads,” says Divecha. “That’s why I helped get my franchise started with the market-ing campaign. I can say that it’s really helped the brand.”
To this day, Fresh Burger locations continue to receive an overwhelming amount of positive customer reviews, and much of that has to do with the digital advertising strategy Divecha proposed, and the buzzworthy ideas he continues to cook up. “I like to examine different quick-service restaurants and see what they are doing,
why they are doing well, the reasons they might not be doing well, the type of food they serve, the quality of the food, and how it impacts their business.”
For Divecha, putting research and time into the business is a top priority. “Some people who want to run a franchise do it so that they can let the business run itself but a franchise is only good as its operator.”
But even more important for this burger boss, is the opportunity to create an enjoyable work environment for his employees. Just a few months back, he took his entire team to a Raptors game to watch the debut of center Marc Gasol. “It was a nice moment because for many of the staff it was their first time attending a live basket-ball game. I like to help them out and do things that are special for them.”
Though Divecha’s relieved he is out of school, he never stops learning about ways he can take his restaurant to the next level.
By Trisha Utomi