Zulfiqar Haidar joined Papa John’s as a franchisee 16 years ago. He now runs four successful Papa John’s in Scotland, the most recent being an opening in Paisley. Zulfiqar won a Scottish Asian Business Award in 2011 and 2015.
“Our time with Papa Johns Pizza has been quite a journey!” comments Zulfiqar. “I had previously worked in the family convenience business and with some large well established companies. These jobs offered security and routine where I knew what was expected of me. After a few years selling advertising space in a national magazine I started getting itchy feet and felt that there was something more out there.
“We were offered the opportunity to get involved with a new company from the states that wanted to make a mark on the UK as they had done in the US. I was apprehensive to start with as leaving a secure job and setting up for myself seemed daunting. We decided to take a look.
“The food franchise offered the chance for the whole family to become involved in a business. But at the time Papa John’s was in its infancy in the UK so to set up the very first Papa John’s in Scotland needed a huge degree of commitment from both us and Papa John’s. However, we overcame the challenges and set up in Glasgow with my mom making the pizzas, my brother looking after the numbers, my sister on customer service, myself, plus a delivery driver!
“At the time there was no awareness of Papa John’s in Glasgow so news spread by word of mouth. ‘Wow, this is lovely!’ was the comment we heard again and again about the quality pizza we turned out and within about 18 months we had quite a reputation for creating the best pizza in town! Our focus on quality is key, it means customers keep coming back for more and they tell their friends.
“It is the quality of the pizza – made with fresh ingredients and 100% fresh dough – that has really caught on and been the making of us. It sets us apart from any competition and the customers just love it. As a result, over the years we got busier and busier and now employ around 150 staff across four stores. .
“Our most recent Paisley store was selected specifically due to the constant pleas from customers and friends asking us to open a store there. With Paisley’s size, history and mixed demographic we were confident that we would have a broad range of fans quite soon. We wanted to bring lots of new jobs to the local community and offer the opportunity for anyone looking for full or part-time work. We work with our local job centres to help bring the long term unemployed back into work.
“We train new recruits and offer them a real future by creating a win-win situation. All we require is enthusiasm and in return, offer extensive one-to-one training in-store, backed up by Papa John’s excellent online training program. So with the right dedication and effort any member of staff can make their mark and have the chance to work their way to the top in any of the stores.
“On the back of the excellent new store opening in Paisley, we are looking at opening a fifth Papa John’s, helped by the company’s latest generous franchisee incentive scheme. The scheme helps franchisees right when they are starting out in a new venture. Deals on equipment and help with marketing really means Papa John’s has put its money where its mouth is! For anyone considering joining Papa John’s now must be the perfect time!
“For us, our journey has been as much about the team of people we work with as it has growing a successful and thriving franchised operation. We talk about the Papa John’s ‘family’ and that really sums up our staff, many of which have worked for us for 10+ years! Staff come from all walks of life. Often they join, then continue to work for us while at college and some come back when they have graduated. Some fall in love and we have had two marriages and one couple has recently had a baby!
“We try to create a fun working environment, where our staff know they are valued and love coming into work and that sums up what Papa John’s is all about. We offer job security and a good work/social atmosphere with flexible hours to fit around other commitments. As we expand there are also career opportunities for new job roles for staff in marketing and accounts as we open new outlets. Our people enjoy being part of the Papa John’s family and we certainly couldn’t do it without them!
“It has been a long journey but we are excited about the future with the national marketing initiatives that Papa John’s is coming up with – we know the business is taking off in a very big way! We are busier than ever and interestingly, Papa John’s is the company now offering me security, confidence and a great futures in a currently unstable economic climate!”