Michael Gazer is the President of Heart to Home Meals and Co-President of apetito Canada Ltd. Michael joined the company in April 2014, bringing a nearly 20-year track record of success in the areas of global marketing, finance, operations and business development with notable global franchisors that include A&W, Dairy Queen, McDonalds, TGIF and Yum Brands (KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut).
At Heart to Home Meals, Michael is focused on expanding the brand across North America and growing the business through new franchisee acquisition and a continued focus on delivering unparalleled service to seniors across Canada and the US.
BeTheBoss: Tell us about the Heart to Home Meals franchise concept.
Michael Gazer: Heart to Home Meals is a service that delivers great tasting frozen meals, soups and desserts right to the homes of seniors. The meals meet individual dietary needs, are quick and easy to prepare and customers can choose from a range of more than 150 different items. There are no contracts or commitments and delivery is free in most cases.
The business is based on a highly successful concept out of the UK called Wiltshire Farm Foods that has been in business for 25 years.
BTB: How and when did you become involved with Heart to Home Meals?
MG: I joined Heart to Home Meals April 2014. I had been looking to bring my breadth and depth of experience in the food services space to a company that was operating in an exploding market space and served an important need and role. For me, it was about finding the right opportunity and connecting with a business that I believe does something good.
Heart to Home Meals was looking to accelerate and grow substantially in the Canadian market and was looking for a CEO with the right combination of experience in franchising, food services and the North American market to make that vision a reality. There was a clear synergy.
BTB: What was your background prior to joining Heart to Home Meals franchise?
MG:I had spent 18 years in a variety of senior marketing, operations and development roles for global food services franchisors prior to joining Heart to Home Meals. Companies I have worked with include McDonald’s, KFC, Dairy Queen, A&W and Taco Bell.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Heart to Home Meals franchisee?
MG:There are many advantages such as being part of a global business with more than 25 years of a successful track record in the UK and servicing the fastest growing consumer demographic. Franchisees have a low investment cost relative to other concepts and limited market competition. Flexible operating concepts and business model mean franchisees have the option to work from home, and with deliveries taking place only on weekdays, this provides a level of work-life balance that is unique among franchises.
Ultimately these advantages are coupled with the ability to run a business in service to the community. Heart to Home Meals franchisees become an integral provider and make a real difference in the quality of day-to-day life for their local seniors.
BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?
MG:The ideal Heart to Home Meals franchisee is entrepreneurial, loves to be hands on, really enjoys working with seniors and has an absolute customer service mindset. Our franchisees are really involved owner/operators with incredible drive and enthusiasm.
The delivery concept and the service itself go hand in hand. The ideal Heart to Home Meals franchisee lives and breathes customer service.
BTB: Tell us a little about the frozen food delivery service market?
MG:There is a huge opportunity for a company like Heart to Home Meals. This is a relatively new concept in Canada with so many opportunities for growth. Canadian demographics show seniors will double to 9.6 million and comprise 22% to 24% of the population by 2031. We are leading the way in this space while building on 25 years of experience in the UK.
In providing service to a distinctive customer base, we’ve done a great deal of research in order to have unique, specialized knowledge of how to best service our market. Our chef and dietitians design each meal. We offer a vast range of meal options specifically tailored to the needs of seniors and their special diets (low sodium, gluten free, low fat, vegetarian, etc.). We prepare and distribute from our own federally inspected facility, and always deliver to the highest standards.
BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
MG:Three key lessons I have learned in growing the Heart to Home Meals are:
1) If you always look to provide exemplary service then continuous improvement actually infuses itself into the very business model. Excellent service can make a business.
2) Never underestimate the knowledge of your audience. Always listen to the input of your customer and franchisee. It can guide future product development and help foster service improvements.
3) Collaboration makes for a much more successful approach to a franchise business. Working together with franchisees and having flexibility in the model can yield best practices and even greater engagement and personal connection to the success of the business.
BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
MG:I’m inspired by the stories I hear when I speak to our customers and by the impact of our business. We have so many remarkable people with great achievements – veterans, accomplished professionals, lifelong volunteers – who are all living independently, due in part to the service provided by Heart to Home Meals.
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?
MG:Someone looking to acquire a franchise must do their due diligence before taking the leap. That means doing their homework to research and understand the growth in the market they’re exploring; to understand the market a franchise serves; to be clear about the investment costs, and to fully understand the time commitment that is involved.
After they’ve gotten a clear picture, if it’s a Heart to Home Meals franchise they’re looking to acquire, my advice would be to ask themselves the following: Am I service-oriented? Am I not happy until I put a smile on people’s faces? Does changing people’s lives motivate me? If they have done their due diligence and answered yes to all these questions, then we should talk.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Heart to Home Meals would be a great opportunity for someone?
MG:For the right franchisee, it’s a great opportunity because it’s in an exploding industry that is currently underserved. We offer a proven business model at a low cost of entry, and we make a real difference in people’s lives.