As President/General Manager of KFC Canada, Nicolas Burquier is focused on aggressively growing and building the success of Canada’s most well-known brands. Prior to joining Yum!, Nicolas served as Business Development Manager at Center Parcs (Pierre & Vacances group) where he oversaw development, innovations and implementation of new products and concepts that spanned restaurants, leisure, retail and housekeeping. Before joining Center Parcs, Nicolas was Director of Operations for Quick Restaurants. During his tenure at Quick Restaurants, Nicolas led all stores located in commercial centers and malls in France. Nicolas started his Operations career with Quick restaurants in 1993; successively serving as Restaurant Manager (5 years) and Area Coach (3 years). Prior to that, he earned his MBA degree from a joint program administered by Cornell University and ESSEC Business School (IMHI) in Paris, France.
BeTheBoss:Tell us about the KFC Concept.
Nicolas Burquier: KFC is the world’s most well-known and enduring quick serve chicken restaurants thanks to our focus on serving freshly prepared chicken meals, sandwiches and wraps Kentucky-style.
Our existing concept that you’d be familiar with is our Core concept and includes our standard menu items including KFC’s world famous Original Recipe chicken-on-the bone, which we serve in our iconic red and white bucket. KFC Canada core restaurants are typically between 2,500 and 3,100 square feet with dine-in seating, and drive-through.
We’re always looking for inventive ways to serve our customers, so a new concept that we are introducing to Canada is the KFC Select model. It complements existing KFC restaurants by providing the great taste you expect from KFC in a new, fast casual environment that’s perfect for people are looking for quick, affordable lunch and grab and go options.
KFC Select features a new contemporary design and an open kitchen concept that serves premium sandwiches, grilled chicken burritos, rice bowls, and chicken wraps. The KFC Select concept ranges from 1,600 – 1,900 square feet with dine-in seating, but no drive-through.
BTB: How and when did you become involved with KFC?
NB: I joined KFC in Europe as a VP of Operations where I managed restaurants in France and Spain (with franchise and equity operations). In a very competitive environment, I specialized in growing people capability, improving key performance indicators, building/development, and increasing profits. I joined the KFC Canada team as a Chief Operating Officer in September ‘12, and began leading the team as a General Manager in March ’13. I’ve been working with franchisees for the last 15 years of my career, and am extremely excited by the legacy of the KFC brand in Canada and by our team’s dedication to renovating, investing in and growing the brand.
BTB: What was your background prior to joining KFC?
NB: Prior to KFC, I held leadership positions in the hospitality industry in France where I oversaw development, innovations and implementation of new products / concepts.
My passion is all about optimizing the customer experience and innovating in an authentic way that amplifies what people love about the core brand. With KFC Select, we’re honouring everything people love about traditional KFC and serving it up with a fresh twist, which means consumers can enjoy KFC a little more frequently and in new ways.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a KFC franchisee?
NB: Becoming a KFC franchisee opens the door to a devoted following of customers that appreciate great taste and value – It’s a legacy that the KFC brand has carved across the globe since its inception in the US.
KFC franchisees benefit from being part of Yum! Brands Inc., which operates over 40,000 restaurants around the globe under the KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell brands (the majority of which are franchisee operated). We are able to leverage the know-how and best practices of our KFC business in our international markets.
Our strategic roadmap focuses on delivering a wow customer experience and relevant menu with great value, served in brand building assets. For our franchisees, that translates to a brand that’s loved by all and ultimately irresistible financial returns.
BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?
NB: The ideal franchisee has a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and is passionate about customer service and their people. The restaurant business is very hands-on. We’re looking for franchisees who are committed to growing a successful business and are ready to devote time and energy to building KFC’s success in Canada.
BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
NB: It takes hard work and commitment, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, the rewards can be incredible. Many of our franchisees become multi-unit operators very quickly thanks to the appeal of the KFC brand.
BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
NB: One of my biggest inspirations is of course, Colonel Sanders himself – he was a dreamer and an innovator and at KFC, we still follow many of his quality principles and beliefs to this day. It’s one reason KFC has been so successful around the world.
I’m also inspired every day by David Novak, the Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands Inc. David has been recognized as one of the Top People in Business by FORTUNE, and one of the 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World by Harvard Business Review. He has cultivated a culture across our organization of Taking People with You, which is a unique leadership mindset that emphasizes setting big goals, getting your people on board, blowing past your targets, and celebrating together after you silence the skeptics. And then doing it again and again, until consistent excellence becomes a core element of your culture.
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
NB: My advice for someone looking to acquire a franchise would be to research all opportunities carefully – and to listen to your heart and your passion. It takes a lot of commitment and care to run a successful franchise, and while the upside can be tremendous, you need to really believe in the brand and feel good about it.
Second, familiarize yourself with the head office and corporate support system. Are they committed to helping you grow your business? Will they provide marketing and operations support? Do they hold frequent franchisee meetings to ensure that the brand is being well represented across the country? These are all important signs that indicate the strength of the opportunity and the strength of the franchise system, so take your time to learn about these factors.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that KFC would be a great opportunity for someone?
NB: When you join the KFC team, you join the Yum! family. Like any strong family, we are committed to true partnership — and helping each other succeed. At Yum!, we believe that building and sustaining strong relationships with franchisees is key in driving excellence and growing profitable businesses. That’s why we work very hard to support our franchise partners. Best of all, when you become part of the KFC team, you benefit from a legacy of success, awareness and quality that is unmatched in the world. It’s exciting!