Generally speaking, most engineering students don’t decide to leave their field of study to open a quick service restaurant. But most engineering students aren’t Tayyub Rasool.

It was 2015 when Tayyub, who had recently graduated from the University of Calgary’s Master in Petroleum Engineering program, made the bold decision to switch career paths and enter the food business.

An entrepreneur at heart, Tayyub and his wife had been running a Canadian gas and convenience store for the previous six years when he started looking toward the future.

“I decided to invest in a franchise business to give myself and my family a good living,” he says. “I knew I could have independence as a small business owner with the benefits of being supported by a bigger network.”

With the goal of opening his own restaurant in mind, Tayyub began conducting research to find the perfect franchise. It wasn’t long before he landed on Mary Brown’s.

The 100% Canadian owned and operated franchise has been serving fresh chicken to Canadians from coast to coast for 50 years. And with quality food and a loyal customer base already established – which coincidentally included Tayyub and his family – the entrepreneur was seriously considering investing in the franchise.

“I did my market research and found out that Mary Brown’s was a rapidly growing medium-sized franchise in the prairie provinces,” he says. “They also offer halal chicken in select locations based on demographics, which is attracting a larger customer base from immigrant populations. Compared to other franchises on the market, Mary Brown’s distinguished itself from the competition.”

After determining the financial and personal investment he could put into running the business, as well as speaking with existing franchisees about their experiences, Tayyub was ready to bite the bullet and opened his first Mary Brown’s location in Lethbridge, Alberta in 2015.

Though he has successfully been running his business for four years, Tayyub says it’s not always easy, and prospective franchisees should have realistic expectations when it comes to being their own boss.

“Any new business, even a franchise, has its risks,” he says. “You will get an established name and a business plan ready to go, but your success is ultimately up to you.”

If Tayyub can offer any advice to entrepreneurs considering investing in a franchise, it’s simple. First, he says prospective franchisees need to conduct thorough research which includes contacting existing franchisees.

“Most franchisors will share the contact information of existing franchisees,” he says. “You can ask them questions about the business you may not be able to directly ask the franchisor or the franchising department.”

Second, Tayyub says to think about where you want your location to be. He says prospective franchisees need to understand their target demographic and consider all factors that will encourage or deter customers from coming to their business, including traffic patterns, parking availability, and nearby stores.

Finally, and most importantly, the franchisee says to focus on customer service and management.

“Hire customer-centric employees who will go the extra mile to leave an extraordinary impression on your customers and don’t be a boss to your staff,” he says. “Work with them and make them comfortable!”

Learn more about Mary Brown’s franchise opportunity and come see Tayyub speak at the Franchise Canada Show in Calgary February 9 & 10. Register today to get your free pass.