Subway franchise owner explains why he diversified and is quickly opening Round Table Pizza locations
Before Gundeep Sethi became a multi-unit Round Table Pizza franchisee, he was a customer. “It’s the pizza I ate all the time,” he says. He was already a Subway franchise owner and was looking to diversify, so when a Round Table location came up for sale in Concord, California, he decided to invest. That was in 2011. He has since opened six more locations, all in California in the cities of Foster City, Marysville, Napa, San Carlos, San Jose and San Mateo.
He recently shared his experience with the brand so far.
What kind of support have you received from Round Table Pizza?
I received a lot of support from corporate when I started. We did some remodeling and a lot of local store marketing. Sales improved at the Concord store and I saw potential in the brand. I looked at other chains, but having access to a local corporate team that really listens to the franchisees was a key part in my decision to go with Round Table. I can pick up the phone, call the vice president of the company and get an answer to my questions right on the spot.
At what point did you decide to expand and open more stores?
When I started, my plan was always to expand and grow. It was one year after the store in Concord that I opened my next. I’ve been opening about one to two stores every year now. We’ve far exceeded our business goals, and that is one of the reasons that I’m continuing to expand with the company.
As somebody who owns multiple Round Table units, what does your typical day look like?
I don’t really have a typical day, which is fun and challenging. Sometimes I’m just spending the day with my family, other times I’m working from morning until midnight. It all just depends on what kind of situations I have to face that day. The challenges you face might be big ones and they might be small ones, but you have to have the ability to solve them right then and there.
The most fun part of Round Table is actually dealing with customers. Every day you see repeat customers and new customers, and you can see that your hard work is bringing in results.
What would be some of the most valuable things you would say to a potential new franchisee?
I would say that corporate is really approachable. If you have any concerns they will listen to you and work with you, rather than other chains where they respond to you with just a strict yes or a no. They have offered me support in every way I can think of.
When you start, they require an aggressive hands-on training in a store. I trained in a corporate store in Brentwood for a period of six weeks where I had to go through everything a staff member would do. They start training you as a team member and move up through all the roles in the store.
I think Round Table is headed in an upward direction right now. A lot of new talent has come on board with the company and a lot of exciting changes are happening, like the Clubhouse concept.
Are any of your stores in that format? How do you see that in terms of revenue opportunities, and is that going to appeal to a different customer?
None of my current locations are Clubhouses, but we are looking to open one in the near future. What I like about the Clubhouse concept is that it’s a new, refreshing concept on a much bigger footprint. It’s the same high-quality product with some expanded menu options. The difference is in the décor and how we bring the customer service to an even higher level.
The pizza business is a crowded field filled with competitors. You’ve been familiar with Round Table for a long time, first as a fan and now as a franchisee, so what is the thing that sets Round Table apart from the others?
The main thing comes down to the basics of the pizza. Our dough is always fresh, our sauce is made fresh and our cheese is never frozen, unlike other chains. There are so many options in the marketplace, and yet we still have customers coming to us and saying that our pizza is the best. That speaks for itself. Between our ingredients, our atmosphere and our customer service, I don’t think any other chain can compete with us.
The great thing I can say about the business is that pizza is not going away, and Round Table has a great product. You can taste it for yourself and see the difference; it helped turn me from a customer into a franchisee.
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