Treating Others Like Family
Diversity award winner takes company's credo to heart.
By Sarah Eustace
The creed of Deli Delicious is to “treat all customers like they are family visiting our home.” CEO Ali Nekumanesh understands the importance of that message more than most. He immigrated to the United States from Iran at just 15 years old. He could not speak English and his only family was an uncle who sponsored him and got him a job in the hospitality industry as a dishwasher at a hotel in Denver.
After working in almost every aspect of hotel management and operation, Ali chose to move into the restaurant business. Through his experience in the restaurant industry, Ali found the franchising community through the creation of his company Eagle Management Consulting, as well as working with popular companies such as Wendy’s and Fatburger. In 2017, Nekumanesh received IFA’s Ronald E. Harrison Diversity Award.
Diversity in franchising
To Ali, the franchise business model and more specifically the hospitality industry represent a particular aspect of the economy, as it is composed of people from various backgrounds and economic profiles. Growth in the franchise arena will require the inclusion of various demographics in society, including people of different races, creeds, religions and nationalities, he believes.
Deli Delicious has implemented multiple programs to encourage diversity throughout the brand under Ali’s leadership. The company participates in educational seminars to encourage the underserved to learn about the economic and social values offered through franchising. Deli Delicious has also developed franchisee support systems that walk franchisees through all facets of running a successful business. These include onsite training and frequent offsite development seminars. Additionally, the company regularly works to close the information gap that exists within underserved and underprivileged communities.
Franchising Gives Back
Ali understands the importance of reciprocity. He recognizes that franchises serve local communities, and he points out that “most folks are eager to learn about business in general and franchising in particular; however, both can be quite complex for many.” Therefore, it is essential that business leaders advise and support startup businesses and franchised organizations, so that they can have a fighting chance to survive the day-to-day perils and challenges of owning and operating a business. Deli Delicious provides regular franchising seminars to help up-and-coming entrepreneurs understand the inner and outer workings of franchising. Upon reflection, Ali says, “More people have realized their American Dream through franchising than any other.”
Ali has stepped up in his community serving as a mentor to young entrepreneurs through the Central Valley SCORE program. He believes that everyone in their community has an obligation to help other members of the community in one way or another. “SCORE has provided a vehicle for me to give a portion of my time on monthly basis to the community, he said, “where budding entrepreneurs learn basic fundamentals of business ownership, and the obligations and responsibilities they shoulder as they set to open a business of their own.”
For Ali, all businesses have an obligation to be involved in their respective communities, by volunteering time, expertise and resources. The financial freedom of franchise business ownership provides the opportunity to give back to the communities in which they do business.
Culture of satisfaction
All successful businesses have one element in common, according to Ali: A total commitment to absolute guest satisfaction. “I learned very early on that guests are a revered commodity, which every business has to take seriously and ensure proper execution,” he says. “At Deli Delicious, everyone at all levels of the company, including the franchisees, are regularly trained and reminded who the boss is: the customer.”
Ultimately, customers pay the bills and reward franchises with continued patronage. For Ali, the guest experience is critical to teach and encourage, and something must be implemented across the brand.
Regarding business operations, Ali has some sage advice when considering a new franchisee: “Foremost, we take a deep look at the ‘person.’ What values they bring to the table, their background, challenges, future promises and, of course, whether they will eventually have the personal and financial ability to start their business and keep it operating successfully.”
Sarah Eustace is Associate Editor of Franchising World magazine. Find out more about franchising opportunities at Deli Delicious by visiting franchise.org/deli-delicious-franchise.