Searching for Stability as an Immigrant Franchisee
Gaby Moidel is no stranger to relocation. Born in South Africa, Moidel has moved far and wide for her career, first with the South African Foreign Service and later with Deloitte. The trend continued after she got married and became a stay-at-home mom. After moving to four cities in 12 years, however, Moidel was ready for some more stability. So, she decided to open up an Oil & Vinegar franchise, a gourmet specialty shop. Here’s what she has learned.
Name: Gaby Moidel
Franchise owned: Oil & Vinegar, in Houston, Texas.
How long have you owned a franchise?
We purchased the license for the franchise in July 2013 and we opened our store in early October 2014.
We decided on franchising with Oil & Vinegar because of the standardized systems that come with a franchise. Not having a very comprehensive retail-specific background, we felt more secure knowing that the franchisor would provide all the support and infrastructure we needed to become an efficient operator.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I have a marketing background and was in the South African Foreign Service for nine years and then worked for Deloitte & Touche for an additional nine years during which time I transferred to one of their offices in the US. Directly before I opened our Oil & Vinegar location, I was a stay-at-home mom for 11 years. I’ve been able to have many career choices in life, and it’s exciting to be a first-time entrepreneur.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We looked through several lists of franchise opportunities before making our decision to be a part of the Oil & Vinegar system. We were intrigued by their gourmet specialty retail food concept.
We were living in Portland, Ore. at the time so we drove up to Seattle to visit the nearest Oil & Vinegar store to get a good sense of the environment. We were very impressed with the aesthetic appeal of the store and the selection of gourmet products as well as the relationship we built with the franchisor. We spoke with several Oil & Vinegar franchisees before committing and their feedback was all very positive.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
We invested approximately $385,000. The franchise fee was $25,000, the store build out cost $150,000 and opening inventory was $50,000. We spent $50,000 for furniture and fixtures, signage was $10,000 and the remainder was working capital.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We did research mostly online about the specialty foods industry and the best location for the store. We got advice from the other franchisees and from our bank. It’s extremely important to do as much research as possible so that you have a good grasp of what you’re buying into.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Our lease negotiations took almost a year, the store build out was challenging because there were unexpected requirements imposed by the city and mall, which took extra time and made the cost of construction much more than anticipated.
The nice thing about Oil & Vinegar is that the space looks incredible. From an aesthetic point of view you can’t beat it. The wall of different oils and vinegars is vibrant and almost everything in the store can be sampled.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Make conservative financial projections and make sure you have more than adequate financial reserves.
What’s next for you and your business?
We are fairly new to franchising so we are really focused on building a core customer base, making sure we are successful and sustainable for future growth. I feel that we have that opportunity to grow with the brand.
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