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By Gina Makkar
A great place to meet, eat, and socialize in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, Browns Socialhouse is the place to be, and the company’s Franchisees of the Year couldn’t agree more.
Javed Mufti and Peter Khatkar worked with founder Scott Morison at the corporate level, and later became the second franchisees in 2007. Today, customers enjoy 52 Browns Socialhouse locations across Canada, and five belong to the dynamic duo.
“I always knew I wanted to get into business,” says Khatkar. “I’ve enjoyed working in the restaurant business since I was 15 years old. I still believe in it and want to do it every day.”
Mufti says an early challenge was waiting for the concept to mature. “Scott is very creative, so there were a lot of changes early in the game, and some of those echoes are necessary to determine what will lead to success.” Another challenge was the learning curve they faced as they moved from restaurant operators to business people. “Now, we have a good balance on how we look at things and approach challenges in the business,” says Mufti.
Nine years later, they have a keen understanding of operations, but still rely on Scott to develop fresh new concepts while they continue to do what they do well ─ operate their restaurants. “In terms of the concept, we rely on the franchisor, but we do give them a lot of feedback,” says Mufti. “Peter and I are focused on the culture in our restaurants, making sure the staff feel connected and valued. We know that our ability to do that is stronger than changing branding. Having staff feel positive and appreciated really transfers over to our guests, as well.”
As the concept evolves, the pair feel good about the structure and support in place. “As we grow, needs change and adjustments happen, and we get to where we have to grow through growing pains in expanding the organization,” says Mufti. He adds that with clear and open lines of communication, they feel they can talk about anything as it comes up.
What do they love most about franchising? “Every day is a different day,” says Khatkar. “There are new faces coming to the business and new challenges, so I don’t feel like I’m doing the same thing every day. I get up and have a choice of where want to be, from sitting down at a management meeting to promoting the business at a golf tournament, which is what I really like to do.”
Khatkar says there plenty of benefits of owning a Browns Socialhouse franchise. “We have grown to 52 stores in nine years. That says something. The pricing is competitive.” Mufti adds that the brand has found its niche. “There are clear players in the upscale market and clear players in the casual market, and we seem to have found that niche in between. I think there’s a big opportunity for growth.”
Khatkar advises franchisees to either ensure they have the experience they need or to hire the right people to help foster success, while Mufti says it’s important to choose a strong location. “Have the knowledge to run an operation, and then pick a good location and you’ll be in good shape.”
It’s the second time the pair has won the Franchisee of the Year award, but they aren’t letting it go to their heads. “We’re just plugging along doing what we can, and we try to do so much. It’s a good reminder that we’re appreciated for what we do,” says Khatkar.
This post is an excerpt from an article that appears in the November/December issue of FranchiseCanada Magazine. Click here to read the full article online or order your subscription to FranchiseCanada Magazine here.