Joel Friedman currently is President of JSF Franchise Group Inc. that helps develop Brands through the Operational, Franchise and Real Estate side of the business. He is currently CEO for Famous Laffa.
Prior to that he was with Shoeless Joe's Restaurants as Sr. VP - Franchising & Real Estate in June 2008. From 2003-2008, he worked with Prime Restaurants of Canada Inc. as Director, Strategic Development & Non-Traditional Channels as well as Manager, Licensing & Development Ontario & Atlantic Region. Joel was responsible for developing new franchise ownership strategies and exit strategies for all restaurants franchised by Prime Restaurants (Casey™, East Side Mario™ and Fionn McCool™). He was responsible for new franchise deals, establishing and improving existing processes, monitoring adherence to franchise law, and was the point of contact for banks on all financing. He was also a member of the Corporate Brand Development Committee and the Approval Board. He was a Senior Director Business Development for National Grocers Retail (Division of Loblaw™ Inc.) prior to joining Prime and worked for other companies such as Second Cup.
BeTheBoss: Tell us about the Famous Laffa franchise concept.
Joel Friedman: Famous Laffa is all about the food, we make sure our food is prep daily and we do not freeze any of our product, we make enough food for one day. We want to be the best Middle Eastern food concept in Canada. We serve our signature dish a Shawarma Laffa. Founded in 1951 by Sason with a mission to provide great tasting healthy food, with fast and friendly service to boot. Our mission remains the same, and our food has never been better.Proudly serving the best laffa and shawarma in town.
If you are looking for amazing Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern food or if you want to try something new and quick, this is the place for you and your investment will be a part of this great service.
BTB: How and when did you become involved with Famous Laffa franchise?
JF: I began a Year ago when the owners saw my video and decided that they want to franchise, we discussed that they needed a proper Disclosure Doc, have systems in place and be in the franchise shows. So we started the ball and now in 6 months we have 2 franchisee.
BTB: What was your background prior to joining Famous Laffa franchise?
JF: I have been in the Franchise business first in operations with companies such as McDonalds and Second Cup. I then started franchising with companies Second Cup , Eastside Mario's and Shoeless Joe's. I am a Director on the Board for Canadian Franchise Association. Recently on went on my own to support companies such as Shamrcock Burgers, Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery, Boarnwings Sport Bar and Speedpro Imaging.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Famous Laffa franchisee?
JF: I think the best part of being a franchisee is the support you get from your franchisor, no matter at what level you know there is someone you can turn too for answers. My advice to franchisees is listen to your Franchisor they have the experience and probably been in the business for awhile. While you may not agree with everything, any good franchisee follows their system.
BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?5. The Idea franchisee is someone that wants to live the Brand and believes in standards. All Great Franchisees will follow the companies system. Do not buy a franchise is you can not follow their system.
BTB: Tell us a little about the Middle Eastern food market?
JF: It is obvious that consumer attitudes toward or perceptions of ethnic foods have become more positive when we consider the popularity of ethnic foods and the presence of ethnic restaurants in Canada. Previous studies have established some influencing factors on the increase of ethnic foods, such as extrinsic factors (growing international trade, globalization, migration, and tourism), psychological factors (the desire for healthier diets, flavorful taste, and adventure), and sociocultural factors related to changes in lifestyle and values Some ethnic foods are perceived as healthy because they include low-calorie items (low in fats, and oils) and plenty of vegetables As consumers have become more interested in “healthy eating,” more restaurants have begun using “healthy food” strategies in their menus.
Nowadays, restaurants often present Middle Eastern foods as “healthy” menu items. It seems that ethnic restaurant consumers perceive some ethnic foods as healthy, and this positive perception of ethnic foods may be regarded as one of the influencing factors on consumers’ intentions to visit ethnic restaurants. Recent report found that consumers are attracted to ethnic foods by word-of-mouth from friends and relatives (more than 50%), media exposure, such as seeing the foods in a store or restaurant (around 24%), and, beginning in 2009, the Internet exposure.
BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
JF: The main lesson is growth should be strategic, it should be at a slow pace and choosing the right franchisee is very important. Growing too fast you are not able to support the system. You are not able to control the real estate, you are growing for the sake of growing. So take your time, grow when it is right or the factors are right.
BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
JF: Yes, I have been very lucky to have two mentors Roy Benin who I worked with at Second Cup and Rick Stark who I worked with at Prime Restaurants. They really showed me everything how to grow a system and how to do things right. They wanted to see me success and spend the time teaching me every aspect of the franchise business.
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?
JF: My main advice is if you are not going to follow the system then do not buy a franchise. If you buy a franchise and want to change it or do it your way then develop your own system or buy an independent business. Accept that the company you buy into charge royalties and ad fund. You need to understand that every franchise does the same thing- it is up to you if you want to follow a system.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Famous Laffa is would be a great opportunity for someone?
JF: Famous Laffa is a great system to buy into. We are a healthy and fresh concept. Our system is set up that we do all the prep of the food for you and deliver the product to your restaurant on daily basis to ensure you have lower labor and fresh product with minimal waste. Not a lot of restaurant franchise can say that. Ethnic food is on a rise and Middle Eastern is one of the top request for customer.
So if you want to run a simple concept with a lower labor and food cost while having a demanding food concept then Famous Laffa is for you.