With hard work, a little luck, and a willingness to take risks, two brothers from India have a built a multi-million dollar franchise business in less than five years.
Paramijit Josan grew up in northwestern India, known as the Punjab, which is famous for its abundant agriculture. Paramijit’s father was a teacher, but he was also very entrepreneurial, operating a farm, an ice-mill, and an auto parts business. Beginning at age thirteen, Paramijit worked in the family businesses after school, and began to dream of being a businessman one day. Even though he never advanced beyond high school, he was determined to become successful.
Today Paramijit has turned his dream into reality, owning and operating five successful restaurants in the New York City, earning $5,000,000 in annual revenue. Here’s his story:
Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Paramijit Jovan, Manjit Singh
Country of Origin: India
Immigrated to U.S.: 1993
Launched business: 2008
Annual Revenue: $5 million
American Jobs Created: 100
In 1993, Paramijit left India for the United States. “Everybody knows there’s more opportunity here,” he explains. He was brought over by an enterprising uncle in Connecticut, who owned several businesses, including an auto parts store, which might account for Paramijit’s first career move, driving a taxi in Manhattan for a couple of years.
“Everybody knows there’s more opportunity here.”
Becoming a Business Owner
Once he had accumulated some savings, Paramijit combined it with loans from family and friends, plus a bank loan, and he bought a gas station in New Jersey with a partner. His younger brother, Manjit Singh, who had earned an accounting degree in India, joined the business in 1999. Although they worked hard for several years, the gas station was not as successful as they had hoped, so they sold it and began to look for other opportunities. In 2002, the brothers bought a sandwich shop franchise, and began to learn the benefits of owning a franchise business. “Franchising is a really good thing for immigrants, especially if you don’t have much experience in a new country but are willing to work hard,” says Paramijit.
“Franchising is a really good thing for immigrants, especially if you don’t have much experience in a new country but are willing to work hard.”
Moving Up to Checkers/Rally
In 2008, with growing families to support, the brothers decided it was time to make a more substantial move. They investigated the opportunities, and decided to go in on a Checkers’ franchise from Checkers Rally’s Drive-Through Restaurants. Why did they choose Checkers? “First of all, we liked the food,” says Paramijit, “ and once we got involved with them, we got very good support from the franchisor, which is what you need, especially at the beginning. And that’s why Checkers is different from other franchises. You get great support from the franchisor in every way possible.” Support started right away for the brothers. They both went down to Tampa for a month of training, which they agree was invaluable.
Although they had capital from their previous business venture, loans from a local company were required to build out the first Checkers location. “It took us a little time to build the store and get the financing,” says Manjit Singh, “but after that everything went smoothly.” He added, smiling, “the first location is always the hard one.”
Growing the Business
From that first location, which opened in 2009, the ambitious brothers have quickly expanded to five Checkers locations. They have stores in downtown Manhattan; Rosedale, Queens; Huntington, Long Island; and two stores in Brooklyn. Although there are no volume discounts on supplies, Checkers does have an incentive program that reduces franchise fees, which the brothers consider a “great program.”
Innovation and Being Alert to Opportunity
One of the keys to the rapid growth of their business has been the willingness to try new things, and being alert to opportunities. For example, their Manhattan store was the first Checkers in the country to be built as an inline store, that is, without a drive-through window. Instead of a location with great street traffic, the brothers found a spot with wonderful pedestrian foot-traffic and that plus great service has made for a groundbreaking business.
Then while driving in Long Island, the brothers noticed a Checkers store that had been closed. Research showed that the location was ideal, but for some reason the previous owner had not been successful. With a new business plan, including a good deal with the landlord, and better cost controls, the brothers retrofitted the store added another successful location to their holdings.
“I love to go to all my stores each day…. I look at everything, from the curb, all the way to the back of the kitchen. It’s very important to focus on daily operations, ensuring that quality of the food and customer relations are always up to standards.”
Although they have recently hired an operations manager to help oversee their growing enterprise, Paramijit and Manjit make it point to spend time in each of their stores every day, making sure their stores are running smoothly, and that rules and procedures are being followed. “I love to go to all my stores each day, spending two or three hours in each one, but that’s not always possible,” says Paramijit. “Sometimes I can only get to two or three. I look at everything, from the curb, all the way to the back of the kitchen. It’s very important to focus on daily operations, ensuring that quality of the food and customer relations are always up to standards.”
Six Secrets to Success
Although they are very pleased with their business, Paramijit and Manjit are very down to earth about the reasons for their success, and firmly believe that luck had very little to do with it. As Paramijit says, “you’ve gotta do what you’ve got to do to succeed.” Here are their top six reasons why they’ve done so well.
- “Hard work.”
- “Hard work.”
- “Hard work.”
- “Choosing the right company to grow with”
- “Enjoying the business, which is really important.”
- “A little luck.”