MVP Baryalay Razi Built a New Life in the U.S. - 2022 American Dream MVP Award
Name: Baryalay Razi
Company: MSR Restaurants
Units: 5 Bojangles, 3 Aloha Poke and a deal for 10 more
Family: Married 30 years, 2 daughters and a son
Years in franchising: 5
Years in current position: 5
Baryalay Razi is the 2022 American Dream Award MVP (Most Valuable Performer).
Selected for achieving remarkable success in his new country, his MSR Restaurants operates Bojangles and Aloha Poke locations in Texas and Maryland.
Razi’s journey to the U.S. began as a United Nations delegate from Afghanistan. When ordered back to his country, fearing for his safety if he returned, Razi sought political asylum in the U.S. Asylum was granted and he settled in Texas with his family to start a new life. Unable to remain in international foreign relations, to support his family he found a job working as a manager at a Dallas-Fort Worth Whataburger. From there, he worked his way up to director of operations for two of the largest markets in Texas.
Today, with more than two decades of restaurant operations and management under his belt, he owns 5 Bojangles and 3 Aloha Poke locations in Maryland and has a new 10-store deal for Aloha Poke in Houston.
Key accomplishments: I started my restaurant career as a shift manager. In 5 years, I worked my way up to director of operations for one of the largest Texas fast-food companies. I managed and led two of the largest markets in Texas (Houston and Dallas). Today, I am a multi-unit franchise owner of Bojangles and Aloha Poke.
Next big goal: To have a diversified business portfolio.
Hardest lesson learned: Be capable of stepping back and trusting your team to do their job. When I started my first franchise, I was taking on too much and trying to do everything myself. Now I spend more time on the training and development of my management team. Having a team that’s able to problem-solve, accomplish goals, and lead initiatives means I can focus more on improving the business.
Best advice you ever got: Whatever you do, give it 100%.
Favorite book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
What’s your passion in business? Developing highly productive teams and building community with our employees.
Business philosophy: Believe in providing exceptional customer service.
Management method or style: Focus on developing others.
Greatest challenge: Finding the right employees can be challenging in a small business. Small businesses need qualified, hardworking employees who can handle multiple tasks and adapt to change. To find great employees, it’s important to invest time in the hiring process.
How close are you to operations? I am an owner-operator. I am involved in operations daily.
How do you hire and fire, train and retain? We use Snagajob and Indeed to hire. Every employee is given a copy of the employee handbook and is required to read and sign it before employment begins. Disciplinary actions are taken based on handbook violations. Our employees use training software (LearnUpon) to earn certifications on each station. Employees can cross-train, revisit previous modules, and learn new procedures. We have employee incentive programs that include performance-based bonuses, holiday gift cards, vacation for full-time and part-time employees, sick pay, birthday pay, and health insurance. We also offer professional development opportunities within our organization.
What have been the biggest impacts of Covid-19 on your business? More so than before Covid-19, drive-thru and delivery are an essential component of revenue. Finding workers is more difficult now. The supply chain has been interrupted on every level. Almost all products needed to serve our customers are constantly delayed or unavailable.
Why do you think you were recognized with this award? I attribute this award to my hardworking and resilient team. We’ve worked tirelessly together to make this business successful.
How have you raised the bar in your own company? I have stayed focused on food. No shortcuts. Improved operations efficiencies on consistent basis.
What innovations you have created and used to build your company? We used delivery services to improve the company revenue. We also stay current on new technologies.
What core values do you think helped you win this award? A positive spirit based on supporting each other and investing in people. I always push myself and my team to make a difference every day, to focus on finding solutions, and to always do your best.
How important is community involvement to you and your company? We can’t survive without supporting our community. It’s the most important part of each business to support and be involved in the community.
What leadership qualities are most important to you and your team? Team-building, resilience, and employee development.
Annual revenue: $7.9 million.
2022 goals: $8.2 million
Growth meter: How do you measure your growth? 1) One important measurement we use is customer satisfaction. I communicate the satisfaction rates with the team on a consistent basis to look for the root causes of any decline. 2) Know how many new and repeat customers you are getting and use these metrics to predict growth and measure success. 3) Stay current with the market technology and new efficiencies such as order ahead, online orders, deliveries, etc.
Vision meter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? To open 10 new locations and from there to develop a diverse business portfolio
What are you doing to take care of your employees? I focus on building strong relationships and trust with our employees. I ask about their families, hobbies, and take the time to get to know them. Our company celebrates achievements and acknowledges employees who excel. We also offer a competitive benefits package and encourage open communication.
What kind of exit strategy do you have in place? I have plans to transition the company to my three kids.
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