Across the table with Broccoli’s Pizza and Pasta

You would have seen their bright yellow and green board screaming fresh tasty food. Broccoli! Pizza & Pasta has been one of the few brands that has grown into a hit all around the world in a short time span. The name was an inspiration from what children thought was the healthiest fun vegetable. Across the table with Broccoli, Pizza and Pasta – Daniel James Leech, their Franchise Sales Manager shares the story.

1. How did you enter in the franchise business?

Demand and careful planning. Broccoli Pizza & Pasta was launched during 2011 and we received an overwhelming reception from the public. The following year we opened our second branch, and the third year brought with it the same good fortune.

During 2013 we began planning the formalities of franchising, and in 2014 we had the pleasure of welcoming onboard our first franchisee. Today we have 128 operational outlets in 8 countries, averaging 20 new openings per year since 2014.

2. Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?

Our connection to the food and beverage industry brings with it a combined amount of 90+ years experience. Along with Broccoli, we have sister brands operating throughout the UAE and Saudi Arabia and have operational management experience of F&B within Central London, UK.

We saw an opportunity in the F&B industry that didn’t exist, and the idea of creating a family-friendly quick-service restaurant concept where guests get personalised, freshly prepared pizzas, pasta, lasagna, salads, breakfast and fresh juices became increasingly appealing.

3. What inspired the brand name?

We wanted a health-conscious name, a name that the public can relate to, have an instant connection with and an element of curiosity when hearing it.

We looked at our concept and being family-friendly, we used our resources. A senior member of the team was also a director of a schooling system at the time, and so the question was put to children; which vegetable was their favourite? Broccoli was the unanimous winner

4. What is the story behind the brand’s logo?

Matching the name, we knew from our R&D phase that the brand had the potential to reach international markets, so we needed a branding logo that would be appealing internationally, in-line to all markets and could be used within a modern, trendy era. It’s eye-catching, along with the name once you see the logo, we have your curiosity.

5. What makes your brand different from your competitors?

The freshness and personalisation of our products. We are not a fast-food chain, we prepare cooked to order meals using fresh produce, and we do it quickly.
Our objective is to maintain the nutritional value of our perishable food offerings. To do so we use local suppliers and order fresh produce multiple times per week. The personalisation aspect of a Broccoli franchise allows guests to create their meals through one-to-one interaction with a Broccoli crew member, and then witness the order prepared via a live cooking feature.

6. What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?

The foundation of our industry is hospitality, and it’s the traits which are associated with hospitality that we primarily seek from a franchisee.

We like to get to know each prospective franchisee and after a passing an initial approval, we then require franchisees to be financially capable.

Experience is non-essential, we provide a quality training programme covering the complete A-Z of the business

7. How long does it take, in an average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?

Approximately 2 years. We’ve had miracle units such as the kiosk in Al Samha Adnoc petrol station, Abu Dhabi. Receiving a full ROI in 10 months, it was outstanding.

At times we’ve used unconventional locations such as disused car garages with open service pits. The scope of work required is huge. Due to the complexity of materials and labour fees, costs may increase, leading to a two and a half, to three-year payback. Every location is unique in its own right.

8. What was the major challenge you faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

The current situation of COVID-19 has certainly been a challenge, and one I hope we never experience again. Thankfully we’re permitted to continue trading via delivery, and though revenue is being generated, the lack of dine-in trade affects us. As a result, we’ve had to reduce working hours. We all burden the effect of this though none more so than the in-store crew members. Due to the responsibilities many of our crew members have to their families residing outside of the UAE, the pressure they encounter can be overwhelming. To help staff save funds where possible we’ve arranged additional transport and providing free meals.

8.1. What is your best achievement?

2016/17 were brilliant years, we planned fantastically well and were rewarded with growth and revenue. We surpassed our targets and excelled. During 2018/2019 the economy here in the UAE wavered and it became apparent that if we were to continue as we intended, we would need to look at alternative markets. Last year, we opened outlets in India, Pakistan, Egypt and Algeria, running parallel with our continued expansion in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. We took a potentially slow period, rolled our sleeves up and made great strides forward.

9. How does your business day start?

With a pen, paper and a to-do list. Call me old-fashioned and I’ll agree with you, but I’m a firm believer if you write it, read it, you’ll do it. As we currently face the challenging obstacles brought on by COVID-19, we’ve become reliant on technology. Online meetings now see us through the day, at 9 am sharp the team is together and we run through the previous day’s numbers and guests feedback. We also check the upcoming marketing campaigns and strategic planning for the days ahead. I then move on to touch base with at least one franchisee per day for a general catch-up before diving into my to-do list.

10. What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?

Many of our franchisees become close associates as our objectives are mutually shared over a long duration of time. When an individual decides to venture into business for themselves, its generally done so after careful planning and a great deal of research. If we’re fortunate enough for an individual to recognise our project, place their faith and resources into our brand, an immense sense of pride comes with this as I’m sure many franchisors can relate with. However, when the same franchisee then opens a second branch, having witnessed their journey and knowing all the hard work we put in behind the scenes has succeeded, this is it.

11. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

Broccoli has seen a tremendous rate of expansion, particularly since 2014 onwards. In addition to our Dubai HQ, we’ve opened offices in Saudi Arabia and India. Naturally, these markets are of particular interest to us as we have support networks installed, and we intend to continue with our planned growth strategy.
Looking forward to the immediate future, we currently have 18 new openings in the pipeline. We are fully committed to the respective franchisees in successfully launching their stores in the most efficient manner possible.

12. Any tips you want to impart to our readers who want to be in the franchise industry?

The franchising industry has become a vastness of opportunity and you may wonder where to start. Aside from the financial aspects of your decision – most notably the investment & ROI – consider the brand’s core values, their goals, their marketing strategies, and talk to pre-existing franchisees.
If you are a business owner and aiming to franchise, place the quality of your product above all else. Stay true to your customers and your core values, pay your suppliers, keep your staff happy, know your competition, and enjoy the adventure

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