(Watch) Ocean Basket's Top Lessons Learnt From 21 Years Of Being In Business Ocean Basket started off with just six tables in a 60 square metre restaurant. Today there are over 201 restaurants in 16 countries around the globe. Entrepreneur spoke to CEO Grace Harding about how Ocean Basket has gone from a Pretoria deli/restaurant, to a seafood powerhouse worldwide.

By Nedbank Franchising

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Grace Harding
  • Franchise: Ocean Basket
  • Established: 1995
  • Visit: oceanbasket.com

What was Ocean Basket's biggest challenge in 21 years of operation?

It's difficult to talk about one challenge, but one of the the biggest challenges any business faces is keeping the pieces of the puzzle together and relevant. Accepting and embracing changes in the world, no matter how difficult it may be is also important, as is remaining curious and keeping a great bunch of people together. And finally, working as one — unity is key.

What's the most valuable lesson you can pass on to aspiring franchisors?

The key lesson is to truly define what you want to get out of your life and business. Why are you choosing this business model? It's not a sure recipe for expansion.

It is a commitment to have your entire family of in-laws living with you in your house, wanting to change your curtains and complaining about your food.

How do you remain relevant?

Remaining relevant is all about remaining curious and caring. Caring about your franchisees (I no longer use this word — we now use client), caring about your suppliers, your consumers, your country, the environment and the things that directly and indirectly affect people around you.

We cannot close our eyes to world hunger, to the oceans suffering because of plastic and other waste, or to the fact that we need to play a part in uplifting people in our companies and country. We're doing well by doing good. Generosity is a key differentiator: Generosity of spirit, sharing knowledge, ideas and finding ways for many to benefit.

How do you plan to be more distinctive and unique in the market you're in?

This is what we believe in:

  • Focus, focus, focus — the less noise for the consumer, the easier it is for her to hear us.
  • Putting your client's success at the centre of your universe. Their success will lead to an improved consumer experience.
  • Connecting the dreams of our people to the dreams of our business. This will make us unique as it will drive one thing that we all care about. No employee cares about your business unless it has some personal meaning. This is why I say generosity and having an outward focus is key.

Why would you recommend Ocean Basket to aspiring franchisees?

Ocean Basket is personal. We are driven by everyone's success and not by only delivering shareholders' wealth. Our value systems are rooted in mutual success and the success of the consumer. We are a company that co-creates with clients and consumers.

We take tough feedback, we strive to fix things and we hold very personal relationships. The other things are must-haves — great products, support, a strong supply chain and good advertising.

Why it's important to have a strong relationship with banking partners?

Everyone in the value chain needs to connect and walk the same road together. Our banking partners need to not only play a financial role, but we all have to make sure they get us. Nedbank gets our business and understands the challenges we face. The more effort we spend on including our banking partners, the more beneficial it will be for all involved.

Nedbank recognises the contribution franchising makes towards growing South Africa’s economy. Nedbank Franchising is all about partnerships – a concept we pioneered in the area of business banking in South Africa. With our client-centred philosophy ‘partnering with you to grow your franchise’, Nedbank Franchising offers clients a banking partnership founded on our willingness and ability to understand your franchise and provide you with a solution-driven service. Our unique approach allows us to deliver, through a single contact point, an integrated franchising solution centred on three key principles: localised decision-making with national support, access to specialised expertise and customisation.

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