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Melbourne, Australia

From shop floor to Ali Baba franchise business owner

An Australian Franchisee Case Study


Name: Chris Sammut
Location: Green Hills Shopping Centre, East Maitland, NSW
Franchise: Ali Baba (Green Hills)

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?
Opening my own franchise was a natural progression after managing the Ali Baba outlet in Tuggerah for over 2 years. Ali Baba is an established QSR and franchise business model, therefore not only are there systems in place but they are tried and tested. The set up process was relatively quick and simple; as I’d already seen the success this low cost, high return option could bring it was a fairly easy decision to make.

What did you do before taking up a franchise?
While I was studying part-time at university I also took on a casual role working on the floor at Ali Baba in Tuggerah. With the support and training offered, I quickly worked my way up to become a store manager within 2 years.

How did you raise the finance?
I saved hard and put up a lot of the finance myself, I was also lucky enough to have the backing of a few family members.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
My situation was slightly different because I already had experience firsthand working at an Ali Baba outlet; as a result most of my training occurred on the job, which is the best way to learn in many ways. Once I opened my own franchise I also had the support of an area manager which was invaluable – he helped me with marketing and broader business management. It’s reassuring to know that there is always ongoing support on hand from head office and area managers.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
Each day varies, which is one of the things I love most about the job. At the beginning of the week I’m fairly admin focused and work on the books, orders and rosters. The latter part of the week is generally spent working on the floor in-store – interacting with customers and training staff, it is essential that standards are kept high at all times but especially during peak trading hours.

What challenges have you faced?
The greatest two challenges of owning a franchise would have to be the recruitment and ongoing management of good casual staff. Keeping costs in line with budgets – i.e. costs of sales, wage levels – is also something business owners can’t afford to take their eyes off.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It has definitely given me the greater freedom that comes from being your own boss. This of course means more responsibility, but it’s hugely rewarding. I have also greatly developed my management skills, which has resulted in me running a successful and profitable business.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Do your homework! Before considering opening a franchise it is important to research the location where you want to start, the surrounding areas and local demographics – understand your customer and their needs. Before we opened our franchise we went to the local council to access information about the median income in the area and shopping centre traffic figures for the Green Hills shopping centre, which gave us a great head start and has definitely contributed to the success of our business.

What are your plans for the future? Ultimately I would love to use my expertise and open another successful and highly profitable Ali Baba franchise, which in an ideal would be managed by one of my existing staff members. However, as most small business owners will appreciate, it’s very difficult to step away from the business entirely as our passion keeps us involved.

Would you do it again? Yes, definitely – I cannot recommend being your own boss enough. There are so many advantages of starting a franchise business and I love the family atmosphere at Ali Baba, it’s been a great partnership so far and is only the beginning of what I know we can achieve together.