Balanced Approach: Diversifying in three restaurant segments
Name: Jiger Patel
Title: Futurist Officer
Company: TIG (The Integritty Group)
Units: 31 Qdoba Mexican Grill (7 in the pipeline to complete a 62-unit development agreement), 3 The Greene Turtle, 2 Checkers, Dave’s Hot Chicken (8 units in the pipeline)
Family: Loving family with two demanding teenagers and a dog full of energy
Years in franchising: 20
Years in current position: 7
At 42, Jiger Patel is enjoying life to the fullest.
He’s surrounded by a loving family that includes “two demanding teenagers and a dog full of energy.” His growing franchise portfolio of 36 restaurants across 5 states features multiple Qdobas, Checkers, The Greene Turtle, and Dave’s Hot Chicken locations.
Born and raised in India, Patel immigrated to the United States in 2000. His first U.S. job was behind the counter at Dunkin’ Donuts. Nine months later he was in a management position. Within 18 months, he was an operating partner.
He went on to own and operate numerous Dunkin’ locations over the next few years. Following some strategic divestitures, he began franchising with Checkers in 2013, The Greene Turtle in 2015, and last year signed on with Qdoba to open more than 60 of the brand’s locations in New York’s Tri-State area and Southwest Florida. This past summer, he signed on to develop Dave’s Hot Chicken. Eight of the popular chicken restaurants are already in the pipeline.
“When reviewing our franchise portfolio, we recognized that there was an opportunity when it came to fast-casual dining,” he says. “We’re eager to keep growing. Qdoba and Dave’s Hot Chicken fit the bill for everything we look for in an investment.”
Patel believes that operating across full-service, fast-casual, and QSR segments “gives us a balanced approach to grow our portfolio and a better understanding of the industry at large.”
After two decades in franchising, 2022 has been another banner year of growth and expansion for Patel. There are enough restaurants under construction, combined with planned acquisitions, to double his company’s size. His revenue target for 2022? “$50 million, of course.” Don’t be surprised if he adds another concept before the year is done... all part of his quest to own and operate 100 restaurant units by 2025.
First job: Started my first job at Dunkin’ Donuts as a clerk with the goal of learning the business, moved up to a management position in 9 months, followed by an operating partnership in 18 months.
Formative influences/events: To be part of a breakthrough coffee brand and work with a well-respected franchise group where I learned how best to scale teams and brand without compromising high standards. This has served me well to start my career. At different stages of my career, I can point out many people who had huge impact on me and guided me: Charlie Patel, Jay Patel, Pranav Desai, Raj Mahadevia, Bob Barry, and Geo Concepcion.
Key accomplishments: I have been able to maintain my businesses and personal relationships while achieving my passion to grow my portfolio. Also, with my experience and knowledge, I am able to guide budding young entrepreneurs to achieve their business goals.
Biggest current challenge: Finding a proper balance between work and home life. With two teenagers, I have trouble dividing my time to focus on both aspects of my life.
Next big goal: To own and operate 100 restaurant units by 2025.
First turning point in your career: The biggest turning point in my career came by forming a strategic partnership with my dear friends who had the same vision as I had. The foundation of our partnership was that we complemented one another. I knew I had certain weaknesses, but also learned that I’m surrounded by many smart and talented individuals who can help me overcome them. We then teamed up to form TIG, The Integritty Group.
Best business decision: I’ve had numerous business decisions over the course of my career that I reflect on as my “best decision.” A rule of thumb is that the best business decisions come when the world is facing uncertainty. I’m a firm believer that visionaries can thrive in such situations. With trouble and confusion comes opportunity. You just need to look through the unprecedented times to see bigger and better things.
Hardest lesson learned: Never do business just in the name of “trust.” I have lost 10 years of work in the name of trust with fallacious partnerships and trusting partners to do the right things.
Work week: My work week is very fluid, but my team always has full access to me. I do invest an hour each day to develop my team, despite a busy schedule. I also allocate an hour to meet or speak with my partners, friends, and influencers every day. I make a point to visit my team in at least one of my businesses each week. In addition to all the tactical tasks and craziness, I always make time to have a lunch or dinner with my fellow principals Pranav and Raj to talk about important business and personal developments. This is our time to have continued strategic conversations in a more relaxed environment.
Exercise/workout: I don’t have a specified routine, but with kids and a dog I have no trouble staying active and on my feet.
Best advice you ever got: Behind every challenge, there is an opportunity. You just must overcome the challenge to see the opportunity.
What’s your passion in business? To work with talented and passionate individuals and to find continual opportunities to grow together.
How do you balance life and work? There is no work/life balance per se, but I do my best to separate both aspects of my life. I give my company whatever time it needs while I’m working, and I give my family quality time when I’m home creating memories.
Guilty pleasure: Enjoying flavorful and indulgent food without worrying about calories from time to time.
Favorite book: Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Favorite movie: “The Matrix.”
What do most people not know about you? To my family, friends, and team I am an open book. I speak my mind, I express my feelings. There are no secrets!
Pet peeve: Having to deal with people who are not results-oriented and give excuses rather than focus on solutions.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I have always had the desire to be an entrepreneur. My grandfather and father both were entrepreneurs, and I never had any doubt in my mind that I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
Last vacation: With friends and family, visiting Aruba.
The person I’d most like to have lunch with: Donald Trump, the businessman.
Business philosophy: Build a guest-centric culture aligned with my philosophical principles of integrity, fairness, honesty, and grit.
Management method or style: Respect all and fear none by building a team with a winning mindset.
Greatest challenge: There’s not always one big challenge, but there are a multitude of small challenges to continually solve, while also being prepared for what is to come.
How do others describe you? As extremely passionate about my work and say that I never shy away from making tough decisions.
One thing I’m looking to do better: I’m trying to establish better time management to be fully present in every aspect of my life.
How I give my team room to innovate and experiment: I pride myself on being an active listener of new ideas and strive to cultivate a mindset of learning from mistakes within my team.
How close are you to operations? I have built a very strong team of directors and managers who work very closely with me on the operations side. This allows me to focus more time on new development and growth.
What are the two most important things you rely on from your franchisor? Innovation and evolution!
What I need from vendors: To see us as genuine partners rather than being viewed as having a transactional relationship.
Have you changed your marketing strategy in response to the economy? How? Our marketing efforts have always been based around brand ambassadors, the people representing us in the communities we serve. That initiative goes hand in hand with other running initiatives, like fundraising, sponsoring local sports teams, food drops, etc.
How is social media affecting your business? We have learned that social media is a great tool for growth and awareness for our business. We also leverage franchisor-led brand campaigns, which further spreads awareness.
How do you train and retain? We invest heavily in providing our people with all the best training, tools, and systems possible to deliver best-in-class guest service. Our family-oriented team culture, competitive pay, and benefits are our secret sauce to retain the best talent.
How do you deal with problem employees? We empower the management team to make decisions faster if an employee is not a fit. This eliminates the issues of dealing with problem employees.
Fastest way into my doghouse: Negativity and lack of accountability will do the job.
How did Covid-19 affect your business? Covid fundamentally transformed our business . We had to innovate and pivot our business model on the fly.
How have you responded? With a strong operational and support team in place, we were able to launch new initiatives for our full-service as well as limited-service brands. The game-changing initiatives with a big impact were around online and third-party delivery, outdoor dining, to-go alcoholic beverages, and working with a skeleton crew of team members.
What changes do you think will be permanent? Digital transformation and remote working for employees will be here to stay. That will continue to have an impact on the restaurant industry overall; a lot of the changes in the past 2 years will be permanent for sure.
Annual revenue: $50 million.
2023 goals: Fulfilling the pipeline of current restaurants under construction and acquisitions will more than double the size of our company, which will enable us to reach our 2025 goal of $100-plus million in revenue.
Growth meter: How do you measure your growth? Through the number of units, revenue, and total earnings.
Vision meter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? In that time, I envision TIG to be the most respected and trusted franchise group for the brands we operate and develop with, with the mission to have at least 150 units in 5 years and doubling every 5 years.
Do you have brands in different segments? Why/why not? We operate in the full-service, fast-casual, and fast-food segments. This gives us a balanced approach to growing our portfolio and a better understanding of the industry at large.
How is the economy in your regions affecting you, your employees, and your customers? We operate in multiple regions. They all have unique situations that have made us improvise and improve our team and our operations to better serve our guests.
Are you experiencing economic growth in your markets? The brands we operate are in high-growth areas and we continue to seek growth in such markets.
How do changes in the economy affect the way you do business? We invest heavily in our people and operate in premium markets. This, along with our balanced portfolio approach to our business, minimizes our exposure to the economy’s conditions.
How do you forecast for your business? We establish budgets for all our businesses based on trends, market conditions, and goals we set for ourselves, which is how we forecast.
What are the best sources for capital expansion? We primarily develop new units by forwarding the cash flow from existing businesses and occasionally debt finance, leveraging our relationship with local banks. For a larger acquisition, we would consider an equity play with strategic partners in our network.
Experience with private equity, local banks, national banks, and other institutions? Why/why not? I have had several relations with private equity, but thus far we have not gone down that path. We prioritize our core values and do not intend to compromise them because of outside influences. I have worked with local and national banks, but as we become larger and more mature we are focusing on developing with lenders that specialize in national franchise restaurants.
What are you doing to take care of your employees? We have instilled a culture where our people are respected and treated like extended family; we show that we truly care for their well-being and their families. Not only do we have a very competitive salary, we also have well-balanced benefit initiatives including paid vacation, 401(k), and aggressive health insurance coverage.
How are you handling rising employee costs (payroll, minimum wage, healthcare, etc.)? Our business model is focused on providing our team with fair wages and competitive benefits. This enables us to stay ahead of rising costs as it’s built into our business model.
What laws and regulations are affecting your business and how are you dealing with them? We are always innovating and improvising as we operate in multiple states. We are active members of local trade organizations and business committees, so we are prepared for any regulatory changes ahead of time.
How do you reward/recognize top-performing employees? The best motivator for our top performers is to provide them with a road map for their individual career growth with our company as we continue to expand aggressively. We also have a lucrative and achievable bonus program that incentivizes the best performers to distinguish themselves from average and low performers.
What kind of exit strategy do you have in place? We are not planning on selling our business in the foreseeable future.
Share this Feature
Comments:comments powered by Disqus
- Multi-Unit Franchising
- Get Started in Franchising
- Open New Units
- Featured Franchise Stories