Multi-unit Halal Guys operator talks restaurant training
What drew you to The Halal Guys?
There are a few reasons, but the whole idea is the history behind it. Most of the franchisees joined out of passion for the brand, they were in the lines, they love the food. We’re a Muslim group and it’s a halal meat. That was our initial reason, but we were also big fans. We all had the motivation to convert that long New York sidewalk line to a restaurant. And the processes behind it were amazing.
Halal Guys is new to franchising, but is a legacy brand in NYC. How does that dynamic work out?
I always have an open communication with corporate, they keep us in the loop and update us how they’re developing. But we also give them our input or best practices and ideas; they’re very open to adapting it. There’s always something you can do better and that’s happening, and it’s good that they have an open mindset. Restaurants require an open mind, right? There is a lot of struggle and small details that if you miss, you’ll hurt later on if you don’t see them.
You’re on the bleeding edge of this hugely popular New York brand. What does that look like when you open a new location?
I just opened White Plains, New York, to a massive response. We had, like, a three-hour wait; it was crazy. And one of the first locations was Newark, it was 28 degrees out and we had a line five hours long. We couldn’t keep up. It was amazing.
How on earth do you keep up with that demand and the aggressive growth?
Our group has multiple directors that are involved in the daily operations. That’s important so we can focus. We found that we have to take a step back from time to time. We never want to wait on a mistake or an issue if it’s not going well. We step back and look again. The whole idea is to stay open-minded and adaptive. We do that with every process, from scouting to construction or training.
Staff writer Nicholas Upton asks what makes multi-unit operators tick—and presents their slightly edited answers in this column in each issue. To suggest a subject, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of training, you take that function quite seriously. How do you do it?
That’s a really, really important thing that we developed in our system, to develop our management and fuel the passion for the brand. There’s a big responsibility to keep that 30-year brand going. We implemented their system in our company. But also, we added the incentives. We have soft skill training, beyond the skill training. You can teach a cook to cook or how to serve a platter, but the problem is always the soft skills.
How do you train those soft skills?
In Newark we did a joint venture with the U.S. Labor Department and the state to help train on diversity, personal finances and business finance. The state funded the whole program, and it’s proven successful. It costs less to do than just pay unemployment; I don’t know why more companies don’t pay attention to that. It actually makes your life easier.
Why do you think programs like that are so successful?
Our issue is that everybody who works in QSR, they don’t have enough experience to see whether the company is good or not, there are so many outside factors. We try to change that narrative, and help train them to communicate and manage their finances and get that experience, so we try to change the narrative.
• Read more: The Halal Guys take their street eats mainstream