At Franchize Directions’ March franchisor breakfast, sponsored by Standard Bank, the topic was “Lessons in Leadership” and the guest speaker was Carlo Gonzaga, MD of Taste Holdings, which has the Scooters Pizza, Maxi’s and NWJ Jewellery brands. Seen as a bit of a maverick who took up the challenge of starting a rival pizza franchise in 2000, Carlo worked his way from the pizza shop floor to heading up an Altx listed, multi-divisional, vertically integrated company with multiple brands in each division. According to him, whether you are a franchisee who’s invested his life savings into the business or a franchisor who has to lead by example, franchising is ‘not for sissies ‘ and is tough at the best of times. His pre-requisites for good leadership are:
HAVING A SENSE OF PURPOSE
Carlo quotes Chris Gardner’s In Pursuit of Happiness – “Find something you love so much that you can’t wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again.” Understanding what you’re really selling is key to achieving your goals. With their food brands, Taste Holdings sell convenience above good pizzas; the NWJ brand sells emotion first and jewellery second. Having big, heavy and audacious goals also helps drive success and Carlo quotes Subway founder Fred de Luca’s words ten years ago when he predicted that Subway would be the largest food franchise in the world which it achieved in 2009.
BUILDING STRONG TEAMS
The key to a good leader is the ability to rally people to a better future and to do so in the most simple and direct manner. Carlo believes that a leader like Barack Obama is a good example of a strong leader who can inspire people with his core values and a sense of purpose. Taste Holdings relies on strong stalwarts of franchising like Hylton Rabinowitz, founder of NWJ Jewellers and Christo Calitz of Pleasure Foods fame, who form part of his executive team and they in turn build strong operational teams under them who are encouraged to show initiative and autonomy.
With his feet firmly planted on the ground, Carlo Gonzaga believes that in franchising trust is of paramount importance and transparency is at the core of running an ethical operation. His parting words to the group of franchisors were: ‘People won’t remember what you said or did, but how you made them feel.”