Sandwich baroness – Entrepreneur

It took a big jolt in life to thrust Sally J’Arlette-Joy into the world of entrepreneurship in 1996. “I was newly divorced and had R5000 to my name,” says J’Arlette-Joy, founder of Sandwich Baron, SA’s largest sandwich franchise business.

“In desperation I began making and selling sandwiches from my home in Alberton.”

Her timid entry into the market proved a roaring success. “The phone was soon ringing off the hook,” she says. Then fate stepped in again. “I was told I could not operate a food business from my home.” The result was the first Sandwich Baron, a basic, unattractive store. “I was told it should rather be named the Sandwich Barren.”

But the food was good, the store thrived and within six months she was approached by the first prospective franchisee. “I chased him away,” but approaches did not stop and in 1997 the first Sandwich Baron franchise opened in Germiston. “I had experience running a restaurant with my ex-husband but had no clue how to run a franchise business,” she says. “I went on a long, steep learning curve on which I received no help. I was seen as competition. I was too nice at first” and many franchisees “ran riot. Later I was too harsh. I am now older and much wiser.”

Wisdom has produced a business with 58 franchisees and eight company-owned stores. Most are in Gauteng but this will change with a recently appointed master franchisee committed to opening 45 stores nationally within four years.

The secret of Sandwich Baron’s success, says J’Arlette-Joy, is that sandwiches are always made fresh on order. “You can’t cut corners.”

The ubiquitous sandwich also has broad appeal, with Sandwich Baron’s clientele spanning blue collar and office workers. “A big store [100m²] will do sales of R400000/month,” she says.

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