Insights from a Franchise Pioneer – Eng. Mohammad Al Madani

It is always a good practice to start looking for a franchise after talking to an experienced and working expert in the field. We wanted to share with you our insights from a Franchise Pioneer – Eng. Mohammad Al Madani. He was also one of the reasons how The Global Franchise Market, an event in Dubai, came into place.

Eng. Mohammad graduated with B.Sc. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Tulsa,
Oklahoma, USA in 1979. He began his career as a Petroleum Engineer with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and later moved to Dubai, where he joined Dubai Petroleum Company (DPC); Mohammad also worked with Conoco Phillips in Houston, Texas, USA.

1. How did you enter in the franchise business?

Since 1996 I have been in retail and fashion business. And in 2004 I started the real F&B franchising business.

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

I did not know about Master Franchise till I opened Charley’s Philly Steaks. So in 2010 I initiated the process for Master Franchise to be able to grow geographically. In 2011 I opened close to 7 stores but the agreement was only for 5 stores in 10yrs. Looking at the results from my passion and hard work they responded positively. The brand soon became popular in our region.

3. What inspired the brand name?

The AMG –  Al Madani Group is taken from the family name Al Madani. We follow our father’s steps. He had a tailoring unit at the Creek in late 40s’, and his customer was the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. So the roots go back to more than 60yrs.

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

While thinking with my Engineering cap, I was envisioning the brand AMG. I wanted to show the waves in the sea resembling challenges and cycles of economy up & down along with the horizon, emphasizing that the sky is the limit for AMG.

5. What makes your brand different from your competitors?

Referring to my key brand Charley’s Philly Steak, the entire process is very fresh and made right in front of you. The quality and taste of this concept helped us grow in numbers to open more stores around the region.

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

Firstly he needs to have the funds necessary for the capital and operations. Next, he must have the passion to learn and understand the franchise system, distribution and management. Some experience in F&B or running his own business is an advantage. Most importantly, he needs to be committed to the franchise system and open to taking orders to grow and develop.

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

Being in the right place at the time might help you realize the return faster. But under normal circumstances, it would take about 5yrs with an average of 20% ROI.

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

When we opened our first store it was only after summer that we realized there were power issues. It is important to check the operating assets, expenses, find the right location and most important to find the right team. At that time we were new to systems and process, unlike the traditional system of running a restaurant. Adapting to the new systems was a challenge. We were able to overcome it with understanding and constant learning.

8.1. What is your best achievement?

We started very small and scaled up to global recognition. We were recognized for the Dubai Service Excellence Award from Sheikh Mohammed in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

9. How does your business day start?

To plan my day, I start looking at sales the night before. Now I have a live sales that we developed in house. I first discuss the gaps in sales and budget with the managers. From 2005 we had our own delivery system and call center. In the current situation, delivery is the only option that works. I try to visit all my stores and talk to my employees to keep them motivated.

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

Signing the Master Franchise in 2011 was a big achievement for us.

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

  • Expanding into new territories in MENA region.
  • Develop additional 100 stores in existing territories.

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

Find your passion and match it with your potential. Ask yourself, what gap you are going to fill with your business. Look at your past and present expertise and skills. Check if these match your current business requirements. Do your due diligence, read those the disclosure documents and their account details. Try to understand and verify all the information shared by the franchiser. Find a profitable niche that only you will be able to provide solution to and invest your efforts.

Get to know who are the industry key players, visit our Interview of the Week page.

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To learn more, visit our Franchising Tips section.

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