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Q&A with Subway’s Rachana Pancholi on Promoting the Franchising Industry on BBC’s The One Show

April saw Subway be featured in a four part franchise special on BBC’s The one Show. The series followed new franchise owner, Kareemaa Musa as she embarked on her journey to joining the sandwich franchise, Subway. 

Helping Kareemaa through this was Subway Business Development Agent and Subway multi-unit franchisee Rachana Pancholi.

We catch up with Rachana on how she found The One Show experience, what it felt like to promote the thriving industry of franchising, and the process to becoming a Subway franchisee.

L-R Kareemma Musa & Rachana Pancholi)

How was it filming the 4 part One Show Special?

It was absolutely amazing to be on The One show and be given this opportunity.
But really I was simply just doing my day job but with a camera crew following me and that’s what it was. I hope it came across like this on the film because it was a fly on the wall and everyone got to see what it was like opening a franchise from scratch.

How does it feel to promote the franchise industry to the UK?

I was really honoured to be able to represent the brand and be an ambassador to the franchise industry, because in my opinion franchising doesn’t get enough press. 

People don’t understand what franchising is and the fact that it’s a brilliant way of being your own boss. And with Subway being on this national platform, i think it’s helped to educate people that franchise owners of whatever business or brand are literally local businesses run by local entrepreneurs that create jobs for local people.

Talk us through journey of a prospect franchisee and your role within this?

Its starts off that all prospects will go onto the Subway website and request a brochure. This just gives them some background and a bit of understanding of what the brand is about.

After this, they would attend a local seminar where we would take them through what’s involved in running a Subway store – discussing different locations, purchasing of an existing store verses a new store ect. Then they would complete a basic maths and english test and at that point we would encourage them to go out and meet and talk to existing franchise owners so they can hear it from people who are at the forefront of the brand.

They can then submit an application with a business plan. If their application is successful we will then start to look for a location or we look at existing stores that might be for sale. 

Once we have found the location, they would then go onto the Subway 3 week training programme of which 40 hours of training is spent in a Subway store. This is followed by a 2 week intensive training programme at our Subway Support Centre in Cambridge. 

We also have something called the University of Subway in which there are over 400 online courses.

My job here is really to help the franchisee in leasing, training, purchasing of equipment, advertising and marketing. And as you’ve seen on the One Show with Kareema, I would then help the franchisee through the store opening process and carry on with ongoing support.

What Character Traits are needed to succeed in franchising?

Something that I tried to highlight through The One Show is that there are key characteristics that are needed to be a good franchise owner. You have got to have a passion for the brand and the product that you’re selling. This is applicable to any franchise. 

You’ve got to be a real people person in our business as you have to lead and manage a team. You have to have hands on approach as Subway is not an investment franchise where you can sit back and let someone else do the work

What is your feeling when you help someone successfully launch?

I feel that i’m helping franchisees realise their dream of being their own boss which is a wonderful position to be in because their are so many people out there who want to be their own boss but are daunted by the prospect of not knowing where to start. With franchising, it’s a brilliant step up on that ladder of running your own business.

What is the most common worry amongst new franchisees?

The biggest challenge for new franchise owners is recruiting staff and I don’t believe this is just a Subway problem, I think it’s a QSR industry wide issue. Simply due to what’s involved and the high turnover of staff as we employ a lot of students that will move on. 

Luckily I have staff that are still with me since the day I started some 15 years ago, so it does vary on how you run your business and retain your staff. 

It is a real difficult issue, but we have got robust interviewing techniques and really strong onboarding processes to help us ensure that we employ the best quality staff.

Do you think your experience as a multi-unit franchisee has helped the other franchisees?

Yes absolutely! I’ve been a franchise owner for 15 years prior to my current role as a Business Development Agent so I am able to share those experiences and lessons learnt. 

I hope that has shown through The One Show and the journey with Kareema because she was so new and been through adversity. To be able to take her through that journey of opening a really good store that looks amazing is the job that I do.

If you could impart a bit of wisdom to someone who has seen The One Show and is interested in franchising, what would you say?

You just got to really want it. If you’ve got that drive and passion for whatever you want to do, not just Subway then go for it. 

I took a career break to have my family and couldn’t continue my role with such a young family. Franchising offers that fantastic opportunity for flexibility and being your own boss which is the reason I went into it.

Subway UK & Ireland

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