Interview with Ray Russell – President & CEO of Freshslice Pizza
Ray grew up in Iran and at the age of 20, moved to Montreal with little knowledge of the Canadian culture and no command of the English or French language. With $8 in his pocket and a third cousin as his only relative and friend in Montreal he managed to learn English, go to school for Civil Engineering and eventually move to Vancouver where he started his own construction company. Once the real estate recession hit in the late 90’s, he left the construction business and founded Freshslice pizza and started his own family. Ray feels that if he can come to this beautiful country with nothing and make a success of himself, than anyone who is willing to work hard and not be dissuaded by any diversity, can too.
BeTheBoss – Tell us a little about the Freshslice Concept?
Ray Russell - Freshslice is the only company in the world that produces their own multi-grain dough that is sheeted on a specially designed pan, loaded onto to a special patented spring-loaded racking system and delivered to each location Fresh NOT frozen by one of our refrigerated trucks.
BTB – How did Freshslice get its start?
RR - I started this company in 1999 with one location at the corner of Commercial and Broadway in Vancouver B.C. I had a vision to take advantage of an opportunity in the pizza industry that others had missed and that was to produce a healthy multi-grain dough and invent a dough making system that would save 500% on labour costs that could be directly passed on to franchisees.
BTB – What did you do before you started Freshslice?
RR - Previous to Freshslice I owned a successful Construction and Development company.
BTB – What are some of the advantages in becoming aFreshslice Franchisee?
RR - Some of the advantages of being a franchise owner: Benefiting from an already proven and successful franchise system that charges no Royalty fees, no Marketing or Advertising fees, manufactures a quality dough, provides training, management, distribution, In-house financing, In-house project management and has an equipment and small wares system in place for every franchisee to utilize.
BTB – Who is your ideal franchisee?
RR - The ideal franchisee is someone who has the Freshslice Vision, understands our brand, our core values and our mission.
BTB – Tell us a little about the Pizza Industry?
RR - The pizza industry today requires companies to offer fresh quality products, be able to deliver in a timely manner, offer more than just pizza products and have curb and dining appeal for those high pedestrian traffic areas. In today’s market, which is becoming more and more digitized every day, there is less room for error now that any one at any given time can e-mail, Facebook, tweet or blog a criticism or compliment about your company that can be read by thousands in a matter of seconds. In this competitive market, the ideal Franchisee needs to understand what they are up against, believe in our system and know that we strive to be the best in order to be steps ahead of our competitors.
BTB - What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
RR - One of the many lessons learned in growing this franchise was how to get efficiency, productivity and consistency to embody the pizza industry without sacrificing quality. I achieved it by inventing a unique dough making system not available anywhere in the world. Along with this dough making system, I developed our own distribution system, small ware & equipment system, in-house financing system, in-house construction and design system, and an in-house project managing system for every Freshslice location so that we can optimize productivity, efficiency and be able to expand successfully in the future.
BTB - Do you have someone you use for inspiration?
RR - While building this Franchise Empire, I always found inspiration in so many mentors of mine like Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Terry Fox, Bill Gates and Jim Pattison. Their trials and tribulations in their own lives resonated with my own and I have always felt very fortunate to have such great examples to learn from whilst living in a beautiful country that offers so much opportunity and success to anyone willing to work hard for it.
BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
RR - The advice I would give to someone looking to acquire a franchise would be to do your homework and know who you are and what you expect from yourself and the franchise that you want to involve yourself. You need to choose a franchise system that will eventually take you to your desired destination and be something you can afford both financially and emotionally. Take your time and make an apple to apple comparison to each of the franchises you find an interest. Narrow the field by contacting the franchisor(s) and get the information you are looking for; in other words... Do your part. Once you have eliminated all doubt and are ready to take on the challenges and the rewards of becoming a successful business owner you can now take the time to take a good look at the benefits of being involved with a successful outfit like Freshslice.
BTB – In your opinion, why do you think that Freshslice would be a great opportunity for someone?
RR - In my years of owning, operating and maintaining the Freshslice Brand I can only speak from experience of the great opportunities I have seen first-hand of good honest individuals who have made great successes of themselves as a Freshslice franchisee, and it fills a very special place within me to know that my vision has helped create such prosperous individuals who have successfully carried on the Freshslice brand with great pride and respect.