Interview: Michael Neill - Managing Director The Frying Squad

"Offering value and choice to motorists and passers by, The Frying Squad is focused on providing quality fast food for busy people."

Q. When and where did you pilot The Frying Squad concept in Ireland?

A. We opened our first Frying Squad fish and chip takeaway and restaurant in Newtownards, Co Down in February 2003. The experience we gained and the success we achieved helped us to set a direction for growth and we opened our second site almost two years later in Bangor, Co. Down.

Q. Please explain exactly what The Frying Squad is as a business.

A. Offering value and choice to motorists and passers by, The Frying Squad is focused on providing quality fast food for busy people. Our sites are located in convenient locations with easy parking and good demographics.

Q. How is your company owned pilot operation trading in Bangor?

A. It has gone from strength to strength. We won the 'Seafish Friers Quality Award' and the 'Eat Safe Award' within six months of opening, which we continue to hold, and we were voted one of the top five fish and chip shops in Northern Ireland in the 2005 'Fish and Chip Shop of the Year' competition. Our staff turnover is low, and our customers travel from all over Bangor and beyond to visit us for the quality of our food.

Q. Why did you decide to franchise?

A. We believe in our products and service, and experience has shown that customers do too. We know that our operating system and winning formulas can be easily replicated and used by others to equal success, and franchising provides us with a means to quickly grow and develop our business, bringing our service to more people.

Q. What is your premises requirement for this operation?

A. Whilst we intend to expand into Ireland and the mainland UK, our current focus is on Northern Ireland. We have established a relationship with a major property development company who specialise in the acquisition and development of retail outlets, particularly petrol station forecourts and neighbourhood retail schemes. As a result of this unique business relationship The Frying Squad have realised an opportunity to access a number of sites in N.Ireland that will be released to franchisees.

Q. What is the distinctiveness of The Frying Squad concept?

A. To our franchisees we offer a tried and tested successful business system, with full training, ongoing support and a turnkey site. To our customers we offer a quality product and service where they are rewarded for the regularity of their visits through our loyalty card programme.

Q. Does The Frying Squad offer franchisees attractive profitability?

A. Our company-owned operation has historically demonstrated very attractive sales and profitability, which is ever increasing. We offer franchisees the opportunity to replicate our success formula and to enjoy a very rewarding business from a profitability viewpoint. A prospective franchisee enquirer can receive the outline profitability figures from our prospectus and the detailed financials when meeting for an exploratory discussion.

Q. What type of person are you looking for to own The Frying Squad franchise?

A. We are seeking people who are enthusiastic about our business concept and who will commit to following our proven operating system and maintaining our standards. A franchisee should be able to relate well to people and have the ability to appoint and manage staff and make the tough calls when necessary. They should have the desire to maximise their potential and that of the business, helping to build and develop it further. They must be able to finance the total capital investment required.

Q. We understand that you have just launched a second company owned outlet, also in Bangor. How is it going?

A. It's going well and earnings are in line with our projections. Having given the staff the time to gain their feet, we are now starting to implement our planned programme of marketing activities. Designed to strengthen brand and location awareness, these activities - e.g. launch party, prize draw, special offers and local PR - will increase trade and grow profits at a fast but managed pace.