In this interview, we talk to Charl Badenhorst, who is the Director of International Franchise, Minor International – A leader in Hotels, Food and Lifestyle brands that is based in Thailand. They operate various brands including The Coffee Club, The Pizza Company, Swensen, Thai Express, Mekong and more.
From as far back as I can remember, restaurants, hospitality and service have been part of my journey.
During school days I worked at my very first job at Buffalo’s Grill after school, in the scullery for $1 for 4 hours work, and a free staff meal. I loved the buzz of a restaurant and felt the passion for the industry and 27 years later I am where I am today.
Working through a diverse range of brands and concepts across Africa, Middle East and Asia in operations which allowed me to deal with franchise partners daily, and working together in growing their business. Overtime this lead to more corporate positions in the franchise industry, and today I am fortunate enough to be doing it on a global scale.
It’s been a wonderful journey in the restaurant franchising business to be honest.
Would I do it all over again? Definitely. Its a great industry, that keeps you on your feet no matter how experienced you are.
The Idea started over 35+ years ago with Bill Heinecke our owner who is still driving the business today. He had a vision, and saw the opportunity to introduce western brands into Thailand.
Nowadays, we proudly operate globally acclaimed food retail brands worldwide. Our fast-growing portfolio currently comprises of The Pizza Company, Swensen’s, Sizzler, Dairy Queen, Burger King, Basil, ThaiXpress, The Coffee Club, Riverside Grilled Fish and Benihana, as well as restaurants under Select Service Partners brands, Likewise under Hotel we have an entire premium range of food brands, Mekong, Beach Club and others in the making.
Moreover, under our food division’s belt are dairy product manufacturing facilities in Thailand under the names of Minor Cheese Limited (MCL) and Minor Dairy Limited (MDL), a key supplier to various restaurant operations of its parent as well as a major supplier to companies outside the group in Thailand’s and regional foodservice sector.
That inspiration and drive for World Class Customer Service in every brand we represent, is what drives each brand in our portfolio.
At Minor Food, we accept nothing less than perfection when it comes to ensuring our beloved customers have the time of their life at our restaurants.
To” Unlock Impossibilities”, it takes a special kind of drive, desire to seize opportunities, determination to make things happen, and a spirit that will not break.
This is what makes us who we are at Minor Food – a shared value that extends beyond us as individuals to the teams we work in.
Our people at Minor Food even management team also develop shared goals based on mutual respect and fair work ethics, and support one another to make sure that everyone achieves them. Above all, we pride ourselves on ensuring that nothing stands in the way of 100% customer satisfaction. And this is what unlocks our success.
With Multiple Brands and Logos, our key focus is to ensure that our brand name’s and logo’s makes a statement of who we are and what we are proud of doing. Example: The Coffee Club is “C” Logo (Representing your Happy Place)
We operate as a franchisor and a franchisee – so we know what it takes to be a committed franchise partner
We operate across multiple segments internationally for almost 4 decades
– So we know what good looks like, and know how to challenge ourselves and our partners to be the best
We share our resources to set our partners up for success
We are flexible in our approach and never stop learning. We apply these lessons learnt to improving our systems, processes and services to support our franchise partners in their markets. That’s what differentiates Minor from the others.
A potential partner:
a) Must be passionate about customers, service and hospitality overall. This will ensure that we have common interests and approach to operating the brands, and is the right kind of partner for us that will drive our values and DNA of the brands in a market
b) Must have a passion for their people, quality and the food service industry
c) Then we will look at the partners ability to operate the business, the resources, and the potential to grow the business in a specific market place
In general, this is visible from the start of the franchise journey with Minor.
The level of engagement from us as a franchisor, and our level of commitment is usually where the realization begins with a franchisee and selecting us as a partner.
Financially this is usually in the first year. We plan that our franchisees, benefit from their investment and see the potential of the brands as early as possible
Brans differ in payback periods, but these range from as early as in the first year, up to around 4 years for the larger assets
Moving through the ranks and progressing from operations into a more corporate structure, the challenge was to time manage myself and focus on what was important in my new roles. Being so hands on in operations for so many years, the tendency to spend 12 hours in franchisee stores was not easy to let go of.
Having to step back, give space for others to take over those roles, and allow me to focus on driving the direction of future development and managing franchise partner relationships was probably more challenging than expected, and took some time to adjust.
I overcame it by rather mentoring operators where they could engage with me one on one with their operational challenges, and work though troubleshooting sessions.
This allowed me to still get a taste of the operations, but also allowed me to focus on my new journey of growing our brands internationally.
It was a moment in my life, where family, career and personal development all happened in the same week.
Got married, became a dad,
Moved to Asia to drive a new brand in a new market
Submitted my Masters Dissertation
Keeping it together and accomplishing them all without sacrificing either was a feeling of achievement I will always remember.
Starts usually with the mobile going at 4-6am as we operate from east to west.
Starts a far as Australia, works through Asia onto the Middle East.
A quick coffee and a note book. Then the full pace kicks in around 7am, with international calls at mid-day then head into market or meetings, and the day runs through until dinner time or later.
There are a few that are generally related to that feeling of “Reward”
But No.1 is: When you launch a brand in a new market, after months of negotiations and planning with our teams. Its an exhilarating moment, when you step back and absorb the energy and commitment from so many people that put it all together.
These are my best moments by far, and seeing that look on a Franchise partners face, when they realize the scale of what just happened.
We will definitely be focusing on growing our footprint in existing markets, and introducing the brand to newer markets across Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, Americas.
We are patient in our approach and selecting the right partners to build the brands with us globally.
Its not about the number of deals signed, but rather the quality of the partnerships we build along the way. That’s truly how we see the next 5 years and growing the business internationally.
Food Franchising is a wonderful journey, for those who are trully passionate about being a wolrd class Master Franchisee in their markets. It’s tough work, and at most time well rewarded.
The CUSTOMER comes FIRST. It’s why we are in this business….. period.
Do your homework and make sure you understand what brands you would like to introduce into your market and for what reason.
Be engaged in your business, and be passionate about its success. Remember you will be investing a lot of your time, cash and energy in this journey.
Choose your people well, who will drive a customer centric environment and look after them. These are the people who will nurture your business to grow it from one success to another.
Develop strong and healthy relationships with your all stakeholders including the Franchisor…..Remember they are your partners and your success is their success.
Keep your competitor in your sights at all times. Know them just as well as you know your own business.
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