As being representatives of WFA in Pakistan , we help the local business man in acquiring international franchises from world famous brands and through Augment, we present their case before the investors. Unfortunately, these days Pakistan is not considered a safe place to work; therefore it requires an immense effort not only to persist but also to convince them to invest in our country.
Franchisor gives the franchises and those who buy it in other countries are known as franchisees. Our job is to find the right partner for the franchisor who can run their franchise efficiently in Pakistan; we market them on our website, assist and guide them about the Pakistani market. We actually do the work of match making by corresponding right franchisor with the right franchisee and also help them to grow their business in Pakistan.
With an array of international food chains establishing in cities, an increasing number of Pakistanis are taking the fast food lane. Fat Burger, Hardees, Second Cup and many others hit our mind when it comes to quench the thirst of our taste buds. Samiullah Mohabbat is the CEO and founder of Augment (Pvt) Ltd which is Pakistan’s first and the top franchise development company. He is the former CEO of Fat burger Pakistan and COO of Hardee’s Pakistan. He is also the Managing Director of World Franchise Associates in Pakistan; WFA is world’s leading organization in international franchise development. As the founder of Augment Pvt Ltd, he wanted to provide a platform for franchising industry in Pakistan. Since then Augment has been providing a guiding light to franchisees, entrepreneurs and international franchise brands who are interested in the Pakistan market.
A highlight of Sami’s expertise in the franchising & restaurant industry is the acquisition of Hardee’s franchise for Pakistan. He led from the idea generation to accomplishment, establishing the whole company structure, business planning with local and international team/vendors at strategic level, identifying business opportunities for the company in the local and international markets, overcame complex business challenges and making high stakes decisions within fast-paced, high-pressure environments using experience-backed judgment, innovation, strong work ethics and irreproachable integrity. Sami has excelled his knowledge in the industry with trainings from USA, Macao, Dubai, and at the same time he was franchising and developing several international brands in the country. In a recent interview with IBEX, he talks about his company and career.
1. Please tell us about your professional background?
I did my MBA from UMT and then I started my career in 2003 from KFC. I started my professional life from scratch to Head of operations for the Punjab region. I was responsible for establishing a number of KFC chains and the branch at the motorway was also my idea. I accidentally landed in the food industry sector, I was a person with no vision and was looking for a job but my human instinct and curiosity for trying something diverse brought me to this path. With the help of my friend Sohail, we brainstormed different entrepreneurship ideas which were related to the food industry.
I started working on acquisition of the franchise and managed all operations, studied the market for Hardees and sent them the business plan for Pakistan. Finally, Hardees made its way to Pakistan making us the youngest franchisers in the world. After this successful experience, I decided to establish Augment (Pvt) Ltd with an idea of a platform to facilitate businessmen in Pakistan to acquire international franchises. I met with the associates of World Franchise Associates (WFA) who have their offices in more than 20 countries. Currently, we represent them in Pakistan. Previously, WFA was assisting us with the international franchise systems but after gaining some experience we established Augment which has been quite a success.
2. Tell us about your company and its operations?
As being representatives of WFA in Pakistan, we help local businessmen in acquiring international franchises from famous brands around the world. Through Augment, we present their case before the investors. Pakistan, unfortunately is not considered a safe place therefore it requires an immense effort not only to persist but also to convince them to invest in our country. We make strong cases for our clients and try to make things happen. We also assist in running businesses for our clients. At Augment, we help the businessmen to identify and develop the best franchises to meet their business ownership goals. As a professional franchising service provider, we try to find the perfect business opportunity. We have pre-screened hundreds of franchises and business opportunities and help the businessmen to select the best opportunities from more than 1200 partner brands which match their lifestyle, business, and financial goals in Pakistan. At the moment, we have a team of five people. We are also working on a model of sub franchising development for local brands.
3. Tell us about your franchisor and franchisee services?
Franchisor is the one who is giving the franchise and those who buy it are known as franchisee. Our job is to find the right partner for the franchisor who can run their franchise efficiently in Pakistan. We market them on our website, assist and guide them about the Pakistani market. We actually do the work of match making by corresponding right franchisor with the right franchisee and also help them to progress their business in Pakistan
4. If I am an investor, why should I come to you instead of going directly to the food chain?
There are so many business opportunities lying abroad and the only way you can approach them is through their website, where you can email your query which is mostly ignored. If by chance, you are able to get hold of the franchisor they will lock the deal usually in large amount. We understand the potential of franchising business in Pakistan and we present our case before the international market knowing the potential business growth in our market. We assist our clients from writing the application to presenting the case, getting hold of the franchise and even helping them in running the business in Pakistan which also lowers the cost. Secondly, the franchisor will never give its franchise to an inexperience franchisee, therefore we also make their company profiles, business plans, negotiate their case before the international market.
5. What is the criteria in assessing a potential investor?
We have a business process in which we see the professional background of clients. It certainly does not mean that those with no professional background cannot come to us, we also look into their deals as well and sometimes I have used my own professional background in acquiring the franchise because a franchisor will never give its business to an amateur. Internationally, a brand cannot afford to hear any of their franchises closing in a country because this tarnishes the brand’s reputation.
6. Why do international food chains trust you? What is the success rate?
They trust us because I have a very strong professional background in operations; We have launched two brands Fat Burger and Hardees which are running successfully in Pakistan. Nobody trusts a layman. With famous names like Hardees, Fat Burger, Second cup, we have had a success rate of 100 percent.
7. What is the difference in starting a good local food chain as compared to having an international franchise?
The basic difference comes from the brand name. You start it with your own name. You might profit more from a local food chain. It depends on the buyer’s thought; if he prefers local food then he will go to local franchise. Business in not guaranteed here but with international food chain you might get the benefits of a good brand name and an experienced team which is rare in local business.
8. What opportunities do you see in food business? Which cities are profitable in terms of business returns?
Food Business is an industry which cannot be saturated and the rate of success is more than 90%. The metropolitan cities are more profitable as compared to the small cities due to the awareness factor and population rate.
9. Do you have selection criteria for an international food chain or you select anyone because locals are not aware of it?
The brand has to be successful in other countries and should have a strong support system with the requirement of that particular brand in Pakistan. Sometimes clients also come with their wish list about opening a particular brand in Pakistan and we usually have a session with them in which we assist them and approach the brand on their behalf.
10. Who are your competitors in Pakistan?
Currently, we don’t have any competitors and with the grace of Almighty this industry is not as saturated as the rest and therefore we are the only one in Pakistan who is running this business with success.
11. What is your opinion about legalities and government policies in starting a business in Pakistan?
Personally speaking, this sector needs a great deal of improvement. The laws are old and there are numerous hurdles that come in our way. The government legalities have not been updated to the international situation. The government should update their system which can actually help local and international industry to progress their business in Pakistan.
12. What suggestions would you like to give to the government?
They should improve and align their law system according to international system as you cannot mold the world with your independent system. It is very difficult to bring the international investor in Pakistan and then the government instead of welcoming them creates more hurdles for them.
13. What advice would you like to give to young entrepreneurs who want to open an international franchise of any business?
If you want to prosper in life, you should have an entrepreneur’s mind. One should be brave enough to take risks. A simple idea can turn into success so step up with full determination.
14. What are your future plans in Augment?
We want to educate the system and develop a sector where we can establish our brands to expand internationally. We want to develop a vision in our people to take our industry outside of Pakistan. A great example of this is the Asia School System where we assisted in signing their franchise in Saudia Arabia. We want to make our local brands grow across borders.