Non-Stop Growth: Anil Yadav Operates More Than 250 Locations

Anil Yadav is a repeat achiever in the pages of Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine. We first interviewed him in 2008 when he had "only" 78 Jack in the Box restaurants and 16 Denny's. Just two years later, when he was named one of the magazine's MVP Award winners, he had expanded to 155 Jack in the Boxes and 26 Denny's.

Today, another couple of years down the line, he's done it again, staking claim to 227 Jack in the Boxes and 30 Denny's. For the record, that makes him the largest Jack in the Box franchisee in the country. He also has become involved with Marco's Pizza as the broker for both the Northern and Southern California markets (so check back with us in 2 more years).

It's all quite amazing when you consider his present-day empire began in 1984 in Northern California, when the teenaged Yadav took a part-time job as a Jack in the Box fry cook to help pay for college. Within 18 months he'd become store manager, and within 5 years he'd purchased his first restaurant--a Jack in the Box.

"From the very beginning with Jack in the Box, there was a desire to grow," says Yadav. "With the availability of corporate restaurants through the refranchising effort, the growth was greater than one could imagine." His growth goals were never driven by total number of restaurants, he says, but whether or not growth made good business sense.

When presented with the opportunity to acquire Denny's in Northern California--his core market--Yadav couldn't resist. Adding Denny's, he says, was a way to diversify in the markets where he was already operating. Today, says Yadav, he's the largest Denny's franchisee in California.

"I believe the company should always be in growth mode. With that mentality it brings the best out of you to stay relevant with current conditions or the current market trend," he says. "Drive to be the best has given me the desire to continue to expand and take the underperforming restaurants and turn them around."

This kind of growth doesn't come without its challenges. Building the back office organization to support his expanding operations was an early one. And when Yadav acquired restaurants from the franchisor, he also acquired the stores' personnel, and had to learn how to support the restaurants and build the team to achieve his goals.

"Once we had a couple of transactions behind us, we developed a plan on how to conduct a successful transition. The challenge early on made us a better organization that could handle future growth," he says. "Setbacks are there every day, but we use them as a learning and try to avoid them in the future." Today, he says, he has created opportunity by growing the business through proper leveraging and by improving the operations of the restaurants he's acquired.

His ability to thrive and expand during the longest recession in U.S. history has required a steady command of the basics: cost control, hard work, strong and earning employees' respect while demanding integrity and honesty from everyone on the team. "Today I believe I have one of the strongest teams in the industry. We have experienced operators in each region who possess outstanding character and who work hard and smart on a daily basis," he says.

"Once you get to a certain level, you often change your fundamental values, but I have never done that," says Yadav. He maintains a solid operational structure, takes care of his people, and keeps his eye on the ball.

Of course with Yadav at the helm, you can be certain more growth is on the horizon. "I'm looking specifically to streamline operations and maximize opportunities within each restaurant," he says. "And I'm also looking to grow market share."

How has the most recent economic cycle affected you, your employees, your customers?
This cycle has taught all of us to go back to basics. We can't take anything for granted and we need to focus on the P&L, line by line. Be frugal.

Are you experiencing economic growth/recovery in your market?
Yes, we are.

What did you change or do differently in this economy that you plan to continue doing?
To be frugal and disciplined. Providing the best guest service that exceeds their expectations will allow us to grow market share.

How do you forecast for your business in this economy?
Sustain the business and allow it to grow organically. Continue to steal market share from our competition.

Where do you find capital for expansion?
We have had great success working with local, regional, as well as national banks and GE Capital.

Is capital getting easier to access? Why/why not?
In our case, yes. Historically we have been controlling our debt and have maintained a healthy leverage position.

What kind of exit strategy do you have in place?
My son, Akaash, will follow in my footsteps.

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