In 2015, experienced businessman Joshua Mlotshwa was looking for his next challenge. He had previously worked for major South African retailers, financial firms, and had just decided to leave a long-term relationship as a franchisee of a major oil company. Setting out on his next chapter, he knew two things: first, that he loved serving people and creating a great customer experience, and second, that he wanted to own and run his own business. He had given himself the whole year to take his time and figure out his next move, but it was only a few short months before he discovered the opportunity to open his own Cape Town Fish Market. From his very first phone call to the Krugmann family, it’s been the story of how a strong franchise and a committed franchisee can create a thriving business.
We sat down with Joshua at his newly-refurbished CTFM at the GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World just outside Cape Town to catch up and find out why he chose us and what his experience has been like from the perspective of a franchisee.
CTFM: We heard you had no previous restaurant experience before you decided to open a Cape Town Fish Market. Is that true?
Joshua: That’s true. I’d never worked in the restaurant industry before I bought a CTFM franchise, but I knew I was drawn toward the restaurant concept. I have my own personal outlook when it comes to serving people – it’s who I am. I also enjoy leading a team and encouraging people to do the best they can. Doing something in line with that was important to me, so I knew a restaurant would be a good fit.
CTFM: There are many restaurant franchises out there. Why CTFM?
Joshua: Yes, the next challenge was the brand. CTFM wasn’t the first restaurant I thought of, but when I came across their ad for new franchisees I started looking into them and their brand was exactly in line with what I wanted – something upmarket that was well-known and had good values and strong franchisee support. I wanted a restaurant that was a really good place to eat. This was very important to me, so when I approached CTFM I first went to CTFM Steenberg to get a real feel for the franchise. Needless to say, it was beautiful and I fell in love right away. After that, it was all about location, location, location for me. When the GrandWest restaurant became available, it hadn’t been revamped yet, but I had seen how the new restaurants looked, and after that everything just ran away with me. We opened at the end of November 2015.
CTFM: Now that you’d made your decision, you needed a crash course in how to run a restaurant. Tell us how that worked?
Joshua: CTFM is very supportive when it comes to training. I went through intensive training at their flagship restaurant at the V&A Waterfront for 3 months before taking over at GrandWest. It was tough, but in a good way, and it really helped me when I started on my own. From day one there were no big issues we couldn’t handle. They also provided me with an experienced general manager for the first 3 months after I took over to get everything running smoothly in terms of operational issues. And the business model helps a lot as well.
CTFM: What did you like about CTFM’s business model?
Joshua: If you apply the CTFM business model as it’s designed, you can’t go wrong. To this day we follow that model and it’s been very successful. There are still lots of decisions – how to run the restaurant, how to motivate people, how to create a good environment for customers, etc. – but if you follow the model, it’s a recipe for success. The best part about it is the menu.
CTFM: That’s interesting. Tell us more about why you like the menu.
Joshua: Well when it comes to restaurants, the development of the menu is critical to the success of the brand. When I first looked at CTFM’s food and drinks menu I could immediately see they were an aspiring operation and that they were serious about becoming the best restaurant franchise in terms of their menus and service offering. How the whole menu is put together – not just the dishes – at the end of the day it’s about quality. The freshness of the fish, the way dishes are created, the insistence on freshness and good portioning. All of this made me feel very comfortable about my decision to go into the restaurant business. I knew if I was following that menu there was no chance of failure.
CTFM: How would you describe your relationship as a franchisee with CTFM head office?
Joshua: We are both committed to the success of CTFM GrandWest. We do everything possible from both sides to make sure that the relationship is a good one. The way their franchise model is structured makes it easy to run a business. For example, you don’t need to worry about accounting because there’s a franchise arm that deals with that for you. It frees us up to focus on the business and the customer. I also get a lot of support from regular franchisor-franchisee meetings to look at the direction the business is going. In these meetings we also discuss things like new dishes or drinks, and as franchisees we’re listened to. And whenever new dishes are added to the menu, they provide training to my staff so that it’s a seamless addition to the menu.
CTFM: Would you recommend CTFM to other potential franchisees, and if so, why?
Joshua: Of course. I can recommend it because of how engaged they are with how my restaurant is doing. They’re there to help me succeed, and the whole Krugmann family are experienced restaurant managers, so they know exactly what I’m dealing with. They’re not far removed from the business, as with other large franchises. Douw’s passion for each restaurant is very helpful. I know he’s making sure that every decision on the head office side enhances my restaurant. He has the same goals as I have, and that’s an important thing to know when you’re a franchise owner. And I can always pick up the phone and talk to someone who has experienced the same things I am experiencing in running the restaurant, and is open to discussing the best way forward.
CTFM: As a new CTFM franchisee, what’s your biggest challenge, and what’s your biggest highlight?
Joshua: I would say the biggest challenge as a new franchisee is to always make sure we meet customers’ expectations. Each franchisee is responsible for maintaining the brand, and that’s hard work. This thing is an everyday thing. Every day we have to try and maintain that level of service. There are so many highlights, though. It makes me happy to know that we were able to serve each and every guest and make them happy, no matter how busy the restaurant is. Another highlight is having a team of managers and employees that are happy with what they do and who are easy for me to lead.
CTFM: Any last words of advice for potential franchisees out there reading this?
Joshua: The secret to this business is commitment. When I come to work, I’m not the owner, I’m a worker. I know when I’m here, my commitment is matched 100% by CTFM. When it comes to your staff, lead by example, and make sure you communicate clearly and often with them. And, of course, location, location, location…
A big CTFM thank you to Joshua Mlotshwa, franchise owner and general manager of Cape Town Fish Market GrandWest for sitting down with us and sharing his experience.
If you or anyone you know would be interested in becoming a CTFM franchisee, we’d love to hear from you. Locations available countrywide. Please get in touch with Emil Krugmann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 801 2894.
Photo Credit: Neels Kleynhans