NightOwl Toowoomba Range has been operating under the management of new franchisee owner Harry Zaheer for the last 3 months. We decided to ask Harry a few questions to find out a little more about this new store owner, and to discover how his first few months with NightOwl Toowoomba Range have been for him.
Hi Harry, thank you for agreeing to chat with us. Where did you grow up? If you immigrated to Australia what were the reasons for doing so?
I am from Pakistan but grew up in Dubai – UAE and then returned to Pakistan during the Gulf War in 1990s. I am grateful for all the goodness that comes my way. I served the Pakistan Air Force as a Fighter Pilot for 4 years and then moved to Australia in 1998; where I completed my Degrees, then gained Permanent Residence based on Australian Education and then established a safe, secure, satisfying and rewarding career.
Why did I move to Australia? There is a saying in the Air Force ‘I was looking a new Horizon with a clear vision’ and I found it here in Australia.
What was your first job? Were there any lesson/s from that first working experience that you have carried into your business?
It was tough when I arrived in Australia, but I managed well. In 1998 we used to buy the Saturday Newspaper and look for jobs or visit local community centres and search for jobs posted on their notice boards. Fortunately, I was offered weekend work washing dishes at a Restaurant in Five Dock – Sydney. I used to get paid $50.00 for Saturday and $60.00 for Sunday work and I was glad that money had started coming in. Lessons learned from my first job was to appreciate the little things in life and to express thankfulness. Back home in the Air Force (Pakistan) we had butlers who looked after us; our uniform was ironed, shoes polished and breakfast served in the room and here I was standing in front of this huge wash basin and washing dishes. Life can change in seconds and the only way to succeed is to accept change and be willing to transform.
I am a go getter
I like to hold the bull with the horns
I always find the goodness in people
Start a conversation with kindness
Do not be afraid in taking risks in life; if you fall get up and move forward
What attracted you to the NightOwl business initially and what were the deal making reasons for you to choose to buy a franchise?
We visited Surfer’s paradise for a week in 2016 and I had arranged to meet with NightOwl Franchise Manager at the Head Office during this time. I have always been enthralled with NightOwl store layout, beautiful colours, the hot food displays and my online research always told me that this is a great business model. The team at the head office was very friendly and supportive during the entire process but it was not meant to happen in 2016.
I approached Head Office in Nov/Dec 2019 and enquired about a few sites for sale. Communication was transparent, considerate, extremely helpful, they understood my financial circumstances and suggested Toowoomba Range Store. The franchise manager was patient as I had asked him several questions during the process and he was very responsive. He made the entire process of buying the right franchise and joining the NightOwl family simple and painless. A zoom interview was arranged between myself, the business owner, and the CFO which further developed my confidence in NightOwl leading to my final go ahead decision.
My pinnacle of trust in NightOwl and the management team is that I purchased the Franchise based on my discussions with the development manager and the monthly financial statements I used to receive during the process. The first time I physically saw my store was after I had completed my first week of Training in Kangaroo Point.
What was it like starting your business in a pandemic? How have your first 3 months gone?
I was positive and always willing to smartly work long hours to get the results in want in life. I very carefully analysed all the financial information received and made my assumptions based on the worst-case scenario. Pandemic or no pandemic, we must be focused, have goals in life and be motivated to work long hours. I gave friendly service, treated all customers with respect, welcomed them with a smile and improved our sales during the pandemic.
My first 3 months have been long but extremely rewarding; we are experiencing growth in our shop and fuel sales each week. Toowoomba is a very friendly town and I have established support and positive relations with our regular customers. We try our best to keep our amenities clean, always serve with a smile, and assist our customers as much as we possibly can.
How have you found the support from Head Office?
I have experienced two other franchises over the past decade, but the support received from NightOwl Head Office is phenomenal; I get responses to my enquiries or queries straight away. The management team is very friendly; they genuinely want to see us succeed in NightOwl. The General Manager of Operations and his team in Head Office are always looking at opportunities to advance operational processes, develop valuable marketing campaigns, develop influential social media presence and ensure that monthly promotions drive more business into the stores. My trust is complete with the CFO who is on top of the game when it comes to determining fuel pricing and ensuring we have sufficient fuel in the tanks; low fuel prices help me boost shop sales and increase foot traffic.
What comments do you have on the training you received?
There is a lot to learn before you start your franchise with NightOwl. The training manager does an excellent job and is truly knowledgeable when it comes to Coyote, POS and coaching a new franchisee to be successful in their new venture.
Perhaps it would be best if franchisees buying into Fuel Sites get a week training in fuel stores before they change over as they will gain practical experience of handling various fuel specific situations/queries.
What advice do you have for those considering a NightOwl franchise?
NightOwl is a great business model to join, you must stay positive, stay focused, and you will succeed.
Be willing to work long hours and be willing to ask for support, guidance and this is easily available at NightOwl Head Office. Always wear a smile and genuinely love the Nightowl business if you want to be successful.