How To Bring An International Franchise To The UAE: The 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria Story

How To Bring An International Franchise To The UAE: The 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria Story
Image credit: 800 Degrees Neopolitan Pizzeria

My journey with 800 Degrees has been one of great love, happiness and paperwork.

In my career before founding Eaters, I have often signed for franchising great concepts from far and wide to introduce here in the UAE . My most recent franchising affair, 800 Degrees, was with the start of my company Eaters, with Anthony Carron’s original concept from L.A., and we have so far introduced five branches of this chain of delectable Neapolitan restaurants to Dubai.

But the very first time I began delving into franchising, I was caught off-guard with just the exact steps to take for a successful launch. You start by choosing a brand, understanding it, legally receiving rights, and then working on collating capital. But that’s just the start– there’s much, much more to franchising than what meets the eye.

Breathe the brand

Choosing a brand simply isn’t enough: you need to know the ins and outs of the brand you wish to open outlets for. Understand the market position of the brand; its net worth in terms of social and financial capital; its commercials and marketing strategy. Knowing this not only helps one’s pitch, but also creates a foundation on which one can base one’s own marketing and brand positioning efforts with a regional expertise. Conducting a feasibility study is key, so it is always wise to hire a marketing company to take surveys in order to assess how lucrative the business might be in the region. Also, it is required to negotiate with landlords for commercial space, as well as with the brand to be franchised for rights of selected areas along with commercials and development plans.

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The tough cookie

Cracking a franchisee deal can be quite intense. One will need to hire a sound legal team to advise on a strong, solid franchise contract, and sign a well thought out Franchise or Area Development Agreement. All of these need checking, rechecking, as franchising can be legally crushing if done wrong. This is the most sensitive part of the endeavor. At this point, one must also have a control on expenses as the legal costing for such an agreement can rack up, fast. A lawful contract with all met guidelines from both ends –locally, in the UAE, and in the country of the brand– are essentially the foundation on which the business success rests. Locations, concept designs, packaging, local branding strategies, social media handles and operations will all need to be on the table. Once a location is acquired and the concept design is submitted by the franchisor, it is good to hire a qualified designer to work on the detailed design of the brand.

A scene from the opening of 800 Degrees Neopolitan Pizzeria's outlet in the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, UAE. Image credit: 800 Degrees Neopolitan Pizzeria.

Setting up in the UAE

Once criteria are met and issues solved and resolved, one needs to collate capital of all sort. Equipment, small ware, packaging and labeling need to be as per required discussed standards need to be bought. Sponsorships and other deals for financial capital need to be executed. Hiring and training human resources as per the brand guidelines is key, and this is when one can synergize efforts with the franchisee brand to create a body of well trained professionals who live the brand internationally as well as locally. Public relations, marketing and media buying plans must go into order to get the buzz about the new franchise chain out into the local press. Once all of these items are in check, then one is free to run a trial run. Try and try until the trial is successful. Only then is the brand truly ready for a launch.

Finally, while the set-up of a franchise is a long process, and the work never ends there, it is fulfilling to have one’s name attached to a wonderful concept, that has been tailored to one’s region based on one’s understanding of the needs and wants of the hour. 

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