He has one of the best newsstands in town. Just ask Sikander Pirani--or his customers, for that matter. During our interview, he was working one of his kiosks, and a customer came by and agreed that, yes, this is indeed one of the best around. High praise for Pirani, 39, who owns four Gateway Newstands in the Dallas area to the tune of about $1.2 million in yearly sales.
No stranger to the franchise business, Pirani's family had owned both a doughnut franchise and a fried chicken franchise when he was younger. Then Pirani and his brother-in-law purchased a gas station--and lost their shirts in the venture when a competitor moved in next door. Looking for a more profitable situation, Pirani moved from Chicago to Dallas. And at the recommendation of his brother, who owned a Gateway Newstands in Chicago, he opened his first kiosk in January 2001. He opened two more within a year and a fourth in 2002.
The Gateway Newstands system has everything Pirani was looking for in a franchise--he says it's easy to run, and he works normal 8-to-5 hours on weekdays and has weekends and holidays off, as all his kiosks are located in office buildings. And because the franchisor secured leases for him, Pirani feels he has the best possible locations in the area. His basic key to success, he says, is his fierce devotion to customer service--especially since most of his customers come to his kiosks every day before work. It's all about knowing people on a first-name basis, he explains.
Like many kiosk owners, Pirani says his biggest challenge is finding the right employees. "They have to smile, be outgoing, talk to customers," he says. "I really believe it's not hard--it's just customer service." With plans to open a fifth kiosk as soon as his franchisor secures another good location, Pirani is set to serve more customers than he ever imagined.