By Suzanne Bowness

Franchisee Ravi Sidhu may have launched her Ladner, British Columbia Fatburger location in January of 2016, but she was a convert to the cooked-to-order hamburger franchise long before that.

Sidhu started her journey with Fatburger in 2008 as Manager of a location in White Rock, British Columbia. She then moved up into the corporate support centre as Franchise District Manager, but despite enjoying her work supporting other franchisees, she longed for the freedom of running her own operation. “One day, I just sat down and I said, ‘What about if I become a franchisee of my own?’”

The moment coincided with the appearance of a franchise location that was up for sale. Sidhu approached Master Franchisor Frank Di Benedetto, also her boss, about the opportunity. By January 2015, she had signed on as Owner.

Now, even more than in her corporate role, Sidhu says that as a franchisee she truly “lives, breathes, and eats” Fatburger. “I just loved the way things got done, and I couldn’t ask for a better company to be with,” says Sidhu.

Since opening, Sidhu has pushed her location into double-digit growth. The secret to her success? Customer service.

For Sidhu, customer service meant becoming the face of her store. She made a point of being present at the lunch and dinner rush, greeting and getting to know customers. “To be a successful franchisee owner, you definitely have to be hands on. When customers walk in your restaurant, they’re looking for a manager who is present,” explains Sidhu.

Sidhu also listens to her customers’ wants and needs – she’s flexible when it comes to menu substitutions, and even opens her store earlier on request.

Even more so, Sidhu takes care of her staff, which is currently comprised of 10 employees, plus a manager and a shift leader. Since one of the challenges of taking over an existing franchise is easing the transition, she was proactive in reassuring her employees that changes in ownership wouldn’t mean changes for them.

While Sidhu didn’t require much training after being entrenched at Fatburger for years, she says the franchise offers two months of training in store. After the initial training, support is available by phone, email, in-person meetings, and even via text.

When it comes to advice for potential franchisees, Sidhu emphasizes that having a customer service orientation is a top priority, as is developing a team that feels the same way. “You want to show that you care about your people, your business, and your customers,” says Sidhu.

After a successful year of franchising, Sidhu says she’s already looking to open a new location in White Rock this summer. She says she’d like to open at least one more store after that, but in the meantime, it’s all about focusing on her employees, and keeping them happy. “If they’re successful, I’m successful. It’s that simple.”

To learn more about becoming a franchisee with Fatburger, visit them at the FranchiseCanada Show in Calgary! Register now!