In Focus
FRANCHISING | Staff Reporter, Australia

Roll'd founder and CEO Bao Hoang: It's important to set the correct expectations for running a franchise business

He tells QSR Media that they are working on international “pop-up” opportunities to test various markets.

Once expressing his ambition for rapid growth, Roll'd founder and CEO Bao Hoang says they have shifted their focus on being sustainable. In seven years, the Vietnamese chain - who will conduct a NSW franchise information evening this week - has expanded its store presence across five states, and has more than 70 stores in the network.

Fresh on the chain's menu is their Bún Bò Huế, a spicy beef noodle soup with robust broth that draws inspiration from the Vietnamese city of Hue, which is commonly known for its use of chili and spice in its traditional cuisine.

From 16 July to 12 August, Roll'd is encouraging heat enthusiasts to visit a local store to try their 'Chilli Challenge', where customers can personalise the spice level of each individual dish. The Bún Bò Huế is available for purchase exclusively via their recently-launched Roll’d App, with each customer’s first BBH purchase being completely free.

QSR Media spoke to Hoang, who discussed the fundamental shifts in their franchising approach, what continents they're aiming to conduct 'pop-ups' and why they prefer more Vietnamese concepts in the market.

QSR Media: Roll'd once had plans to expand to 100 stores in 2016. Looking back, How has the Roll'd expansion and franchising strategy changed over the last 12 months?
Hoang: Like any new business, we adopted a policy of rapid growth to ensure we were first to market. Today, we are seeking sustainable growth to ensure we can support every new partner whilst always being able to deliver on our promise to enrich people’s lives, one memorable meal at a time.

Our focus is on quality over quantity within the system: from our franchise partners, to our support team, to our people on the front line in store.

QSR Media: What are some of the adjustments Roll'd has made to ensure better franchisee support? What were some interesting feedback from existing franchisees?
Over the years, we have learnt that the more we invest in developing our people, the more we all mutually gain. We’ve also invested in the tools and technology to enable our people to achieve; such as online communications and training platforms to compliment on-the-ground support. We have invested substantially in ensuring we have the right amount of resources in operation, training and marketing to ensure our partners are set up for success.

QSR Media: In your view, how can the industry improve in its relationships with franchisees?
Keep the lines of communication open, have an honest and transparent relationship and we’re not afraid to discuss the issues that really matter. You won’t always agree but if you have a shared future vision, then you will always work together for the good of the brand. As a support office, we strive to achieve a win-win for both parties, as their success is our success.

From the get-go, it’s important to set the correct expectations for running a franchise business, which is not to dissimilar to running a stand-alone business. Running any business requires not only a particular skill set, but also a great mental capacity and perseverance to handle pressure.

QSR Media: Roll'd recently launched its app. How has been the reception so far and how does it differentiate itself compared to other programmes?
Our aim to use technology to change the landscape of the food industry was in response to customer demands for faster service, whilst remaining fresh. We’ve developed an app that caters to both the novice Roll’d customer and to those who quite literally live and breathe all things Roll’d.

The launch of the Roll’d App is a positive step forward in the digital direction we are moving in. There are exciting ventures to come, including being completely cashless within the next three years, drone/driverless vehicle delivery within five years and a fully customisable suggestive menu, based on customer diets, health needs and requests. We’re excited to take our customer experience to a whole new level.

QSR Media: Talk to us more about your international strategy. Should we expect a 'homecoming' of sorts for Roll'd in Vietnam? Will Malaysia, China, Philippines, Singapore, London, Dubai, and New York still be considered?
We are thrilled to be able to share our great food and create memorable experiences with people around the world. Furthermore, we are currently working on some international “pop-up” opportunities to test various markets - inclusive of destinations from Europe through to Asia, and even North America. 

In terms of a ‘homecoming', we were surprised to have received interest from the Motherland, however at this point, Vietnam will remain our source of inspiration.

QSR Media: What's your outlook for the potential of other Vietnamese concepts in Australia?
Vietnamese cuisine is definitely a cuisine that is on trend right now, not surprisingly because it’s naturally healthy and fresh. We love to see good Vietnamese concepts enter the market, because it just means more exposure of the cuisine. The more good experiences people have with Vietnamese food, the better for Roll’d.

It’s only disappointing when lesser quality Vietnamese operators create poor quality and/or experience, as we then have to work harder to get those people to give Vietnamese another chance. Roll’d aims to be a regular on the weekly food roster, as cuisines such as Japanese and Chinese have been over the years, and we’re confident we can maintain the quality and service to stick around for years to come.

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