Man on a Mission Raj Patel is the 2023 Multi-Brand Leadership MVP
Name: Raj Patel
Company: The Hari Group
Units: 88 Dunkin’, 6 Dave’s Hot Chicken, 5 McAlister’s Deli
Family: Wife, 2 kids
Years in franchising: 11
Years in current position: 11
Raj Patel is the 2023 Multi-Brand Leadership MVP (Most Valuable Performer), awarded for achieving brand leadership with multiple brands (tie).
Without question, Raj Patel is someone who has never needed nudging. His father bought his first Dunkin’ the year Patel was born, so he has lived in the franchising world all his life. There were eight Dunkin’s by the time the younger Patel joined the business, bringing with him a college degree in accounting. Today, what has become The Hari Group owns around 100 franchise locations across three major food brands.
Patel says he has an entrepreneurial mindset and always knew what he wanted for himself. Today he is hard at work on a growth mission and is doing it with a particularly tough standard: each location must be a success. Patel calls this smart growth and says he is not comfortable with any other way. “Everyone can get from zero to 100, but can you get there profitably without overleveraging?” he says. “It does put a lot more pressure on each unit, and I make sure each location can fend for itself.”
What also distinguishes Patel is the attention he pays to other aspects of his business—and life. “I’m also committed to expanding my leadership skills whenever possible,” he says. Currently, he is serving on a number of boards at Dunkin’ and is involved in the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation, an organization that works to bring joy to kids who are battling hunger or illness.
Why do you think you were recognized with this award? Since being introduced to the industry at a young age by my father, a Dunkin’ franchisee, I’ve had a passion for restaurant franchising. This led me to partner with my father to form The Hari Group, an entity that spans three states and more than 100 locations. We’ve come a long way since our start, beginning with less than 10 units, and I’ve played a pivotal role in our aggressive development efforts that have resulted in the addition of 70 units in just 10 years. I’m also committed to expanding my leadership skills whenever possible. I’m currently serving on a number of boards at Dunkin’, including the Brand Advisory Council, the Development and Construction Advisory Council, the PAC Committee, and the FAC. I’m also involved in the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation, an organization that works to bring joy to kids who are battling hunger or illness. Through my work, I’m able to continue growing as a leader and showing others in the space, especially young entrepreneurs, what is needed to thrive within multi-brand restaurant franchising.
How have you raised the bar in your own company? There’s always change around us, and I think staying ahead of it in today’s environment is as important as ever. This is something I try to do as much as possible to continue raising the bar.
What core values do you think helped you win this award? Hard work, dedication, and the drive to succeed.
How important is community involvement to you and your company? Extremely important! We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our community supporting us for all these years. They make it possible for us to grow, and we want to be very much involved in our communities.
What leadership qualities are most important to you and your company? Hard work is the most important. We want our leadership team to lead by example.
Formative influences/events: My grandparents and parents have always been my biggest formative influences.
Key accomplishments: Expanding from 8 units of a single brand to the size we are today has been one of my biggest accomplishments.
Next big goal: Expanding Dunkin’ to 100 locations and Dave’s Hot Chicken to 20.
Best advice you ever got: Each location should succeed on its own for the company to be considered successful. If you have one location that is performing really well while another is struggling you are failing at your job.
Hardest lesson learned: Same as above. All your locations must succeed individually for your company to grow and have great success. You won’t bat 1.000, but you must figure out how to get close.
Favorite book: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
What’s your passion in business? I love the growth—both in the company and in our leadership team.
Business philosophy: Embracing change and finding ways to grow, not just the company, but also the individuals who help make our company what it is.
Management method or style: I believe that hard work beats talent. If you can find someone who shows up day in and day out, you can train the “how.”
Greatest challenge: Dealing with multiple personalities as well as the construction aspect of things.
How close are you to operations? I communicate and interact with the leadership and management team daily to ensure we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible.
How do you hire and fire, train and retain? I feel like this goes with our management style of finding someone who shows up and is willing to do the work to grow as an individual. Those are always the people you retain the most.
What have been the biggest impacts of Covid-19 on your business? Apart from the sales aspect, it’s been a struggle keeping up with the supply chain and staffing issues. We always want to meet our customers’ expectations as they pertain to quality, so ongoing supply chain issues certainly posed a challenge.
2023 goals: 10% growth.
Growth meter: How do you measure your growth? Top line.
Vision meter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? Grow to 125 units in 5 years. Where I’d like to be in 10 years is yet to be determined.
What are you doing to take care of your employees? Besides pay, benefits, and bonuses, we preach the importance of establishing a personal relationship with each employee in both our smaller and larger brands.
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