Many SUBWAY® franchisees were once in your position... thinking about running their own business. Meet some of our franchisees and hear how they got started, what it’s like to be a SUBWAY® franchisee and why they recommend it.
Meet Ashish Datta
Ash opened his first store in February 2015 in Coventry and now employs a team of seven.
Prior to becoming a SUBWAY® franchisee, Ash worked as a Personal Banking Manager and before that he had worked as a branch manager for a number of years.
Ash commented: “After being at the bank for so many years I felt that I needed a new challenge and having spent most of my career managing people, I felt that I could run my own business.”
Before he joined the world of banking, Ash had actually worked in a SUBWAY® store as a Sandwich Artist™, where he not only prepared sandwiches but also got involved with the day-to-day running of the store as well as some administration jobs. He explains: “When I felt it was time to move on from banking, I looked back at my time in the SUBWAY® store and it seemed very clear to me; I wanted a new challenge and I wanted to run my own business and here was one that I knew very well already.”
Once he had decided to make the move from banking to franchising, Ash approached the SUBWAY® brand and met the Development Agent for Coventry who helped him find a store. From there Ash had invaluable support from the Field Consultants with everything from leasing, invoicing, rental agreements to organising the completion date.
While the legalities were being finalised, Ash attended the two week training course in Cambridge which is the headquarters for the SUBWAY® brand in the UK and Ireland.
Ash said: “The course was amazing. So useful, I not only learnt a lot myself but I have used the course materials to train the staff in my store. I’ve kept in contact with the trainer as well as the co-ordinator and my fellow franchisee course mates. It’s great to have that support network there for you if you need it.”
Every day Ash oversees the running of the store, as well as managing the operations. Ash’s wife, Neha also works in the store and usually covers weekends alongside looking after the banking, wages and the food orders. Ash manages the store using principles that he picked up during his time working in banking. He said: “One thing I loved about the bank was how much they concentrated on keeping up the staff morale, so I have carried that with me to my store. I make sure my staff are happy and often take them all out for team meals, I know that if my staff are happy then my customers will be too.”
Ash has very ambitious plans for the future, he said: “I would like to have a couple of SUBWAY® stores within the next few years and I want to make sure that I choose good locations; that is so important to help make a successful business. I would also like to become a Field Consultant in the future, I’ve had such a fantastic service from the Regional Development team at the SUBWAY® brand and I would love to be able to know the business well enough to offer the same help and support to future new franchisees.”
Meet Mohammed and Raeesah Jassat
Mohammed and Raeesah Jassat are a husband and wife SUBWAY® franchisee team from Urmston, Manchester. Before opening their first SUBWAY® franchise in July 2015 Mohammed was a Marketing Manager for an online women’s clothing store and Raeesah was a marketing graduate.
Raeesah’s father owns several convenience stores in Manchester, Birmingham and London so the couple had a good understanding of the sector when an ideal space became available in Urmston.
The Post Office, a previous hub of the local community, had become available and the pair set their sights on transforming it into a convenience store. Their first steps down this route took them to the National Convenience Show at the NEC in Birmingham which is where they were introduced to the SUBWAY® brand as a franchising option.
Mohammed explains: “We were drawn to the SUBWAY® brand as its brand image is so strong and it has such a high awareness amongst consumers. We definitely wanted to have a convenience store as we both have a good understanding of how they work, thanks to my father-in-law, but after seeing the SUBWAY® franchise at the National Convenience Show we wanted to explore the possibilities of having both. Luckily for us Urmston Post Office is a large space and has easily accommodated both a SUBWAY® store and a convenience store.”
The couple got in contact with the local SUBWAY® Field Consultant who helped them through every step of the preliminary stages. Mohammed said: “Our Field Consultant was outstanding; they made a plan of how the SUBWAY® store would look and talked us through each stage of the process so that everything went smoothly. The Field Consultant also arranged for us to visit other local SUBWAY® franchisees so we could get a good first-hand understanding of what it was like to be a SUBWAY® franchisee.
“I came away from that experience excited and looking forward to being a part of that group, all the franchisees knew each other and there was a friendly competitiveness between them which I thought was great. Most of all I was surprised to find out how much being a SUBWAY® franchisee had changed their lives. Some of the franchisees were in convenience stores or petrol forecourts and said that introducing the SUBWAY® brand had brought a different type of dynamism to their business – how could I not be excited when I heard that?!”
The next stage for Mohammed was the two week SUBWAY® franchisee training at SUBWAY®’s UK & Ireland headquarters in Cambridge. Mohammed commented: “The course was amazing, I learnt exactly how to run a SUBWAY® store and let me say that there’s a lot more to it than making sandwiches! I came away with so much information and so many plans that the challenge was making sure that I put into practice everything that I’d learnt to bring the SUBWAY® brand’s way of life into my store.”
Mohammed continues: “For the first couple of weeks we had our Field Consultant with us every day helping with everything from ordering to operations, we learnt so much in that time it truly was invaluable.”
With the couple having strong backgrounds in marketing it’s not surprising that they have big plans to raise the awareness of their store amongst the local community. Raeesah explains: “We really want our store to be a hub of the community, like the Post Office always was. We’re planning to have coffee mornings as well as events focussing on families to help make this happen.
“We’ve also got involved with a local charity called The Salford Foundation who go into Sixth Forms and try to engage with young people to help them learn key skills before they leave school.”
Although this is only their first SUBWAY® store the couple say they’ve caught the ‘retail bug’ and will definitely be looking for new opportunities in the future. Mohammed has this advice for anyone thinking of buying a SUBWAY® franchise for the first time. He said: “You need to really know the area – inside out and back to front. And you must do your research, the time I spent with the other local franchisees gave me an insight into SUBWAY® franchising that I would not have got elsewhere. Perhaps most importantly, you must be ready to work hard – you will only get out of your business what you put in.”
Stephen Coulter opened his SUBWAY® store at Holywood Exchange in Belfast in December 2013. The opening day was the result of almost 12 months spent researching, planning, training and preparing - having taken the decision to leave his job as a general manager for a large restaurant chain and become his own boss.
“I had been watching the SUBWAY® brand closely for a long time,” says Stephen. “Once I’d decided that I wanted to make a move from my management job in the restaurant sector, I started looking around at business opportunities, specifically franchises. It made sense for me to stay within the sector that I knew well, but to apply my knowledge and experience and work for myself.”
Stephen employs seven full-time staff at the store, and is keen to lead by example. He takes the time to get to know his regular customers and can be found - more often than not - working behind the counter, serving customers and making Subs.
“My advice to anyone considering buying a franchise is simple; just do it - but be prepared to work hard, and that means being very hands-on in your store, especially in the early days. It’s really hard work running your own business, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s one of the best things I have ever done, and what’s more important, I really enjoy it. We’re learning new things every day and making the most of all the opportunities.”
Rachel Shaw owns and operates two SUBWAY® stores in Thornton Heath and West Wickham, South London. With a wealth of experience working in the fast food industry, Rachel decided to open her first SUBWAY® store and hasn’t looked back since.
“I knew I had a good understanding of quick service restaurants, having worked in the sector for 16 years."
"I love the product and the fact that the operation is very transparent. It’s clear to customers that the SUBWAY® brand operates at a very high standard."
“I was intrigued by the brand after a trip to Australia in 2004 for a work conference – the SUBWAY® brand was everywhere down under! I was particularly interested in this franchise as I’ve always been an advocate for healthy eating and it has great credentials in this area.”
Meet Rajveer Sandhar
At 21, Rajveer (Raj) Sandhar is one of the youngest SUBWAY® franchisees in the country. Raj left school at the age of 16 and launched himself headfirst into the challenge of helping to manage one of his father’s two SUBWAY® stores located in Cannock and Stafford, before becoming a second-generation franchisee when he opened his first store in Bromsgrove in November 2015.
Raj’s father, Rashpal Sandhar, has been a SUBWAY® franchisee for over 10 years, providing Raj with the inspiration to follow in his footsteps. The 21- year old said: “I can’t remember a time when my dad wasn’t working hard and it just goes to show what passion and commitment can do. Having been guided by him all my life and working for him since leaving school, he has really shown me the benefits of franchising and what can be achieved - his support has been invaluable.”
Raj employs eight members of staff and takes pride in the fact that he knows most of the customers that come through his door by name. However, his journey has not been all smooth sailing. He explained: “After successfully managing my dad’s Cannock store for over two years, I felt it was time to stand on my own two feet and I certainly chose a challenging location to begin with. My first store is located within an industrial estate, away from roadside footfall and with popular competitors located close by. However, with persistence, I feel we have made a great start in welcoming customers and integrating the store into the local community.
“I'm very lucky to receive support from my dad whenever I need it. He is very experienced in most matters and can answer most of my questions, but the support I also receive from the SUBWAY® brand itself is invaluable. It’s very much a hands-on approach with constant support from my field consultant and Development Agent; everyone wants to see you do well, which is very reassuring. I already knew the SUBWAY® brand pretty well, however, the training I received was so extensive and interesting I couldn’t help but feel confident in my own abilities.
“To begin with, we boosted the search for staff via the use of social media and worked hard to implement the correct signage to get the message out that a new store was on its way. This even included a brightly coloured 10ft sign outside of the industrial estate to really shout about it! We also hosted a grand opening event, complete with special offers, celebratory balloons and decorations to spread the word that the store had arrived and it was here to stay!”
The young entrepreneur is now looking to the future and considering new ventures with the SUBWAY® brand. Raj said: “At the moment, I am still focusing on the development of my first store but I can’t wait to start planning my next steps.
“To open a franchise, especially for the SUBWAY® brand, you need to have both your head and your heart in it 100%. I’ve set myself the target of opening five SUBWAY® stores by the age of 30 - I know it will be a tough challenge, but I’m looking forward to getting there.”
Raj has this advice for anyone thinking of buying a SUBWAY® franchise for the first time. He said: “Young people may think opening a franchise at their age is a risk, however, it’s a good risk. The support you receive from the SUBWAY® brand is amazing, you really get a step-by-step guide and if you really put your all into it, you can’t go wrong.
“It’s been such an experience being able to test my strengths and weaknesses whilst still having the space to make my own way. It can be hard at times, but I’m very proud of the fact that as a SUBWAY® franchisee, I can say I’m my own boss at the age of 21 and I can’t wait for my journey with the SUBWAY® brand to continue for many more years to come.”