Franchisee profile: Sherwin Djamil
How one franchisee found his business could help the homeless.
Winning the NSW/ACT Franchisee Community Responsibility and Contribution Award for 2016 is important recognition to Sherwin Djamil (the franchisee of two Soul Origin stores at Westfield Parramatta) of his work with Parramatta charity, Homeless Connect.
“It means the world to me that I can say I’m a business owner that loves to give forward and contribute,” says Djamil.
“I’m quite overwhelmed because I’ve been given a lot, and I need to give forward. I’ve been raised to appreciate what I have, and this is a gift.”
Djamil has been in business for about three years, and in that time built up two outlets in Parramatta which are staffed by a team of 28 people.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. “The first year was a big learning curve, and I was very narrow minded. It was all about me, me, me and my shop. I made some mistakes and took some advice, and then I decided to do the opposite to what I had been doing. The focus was on what I could give.”
So when last year he was invited to participate in the Homeless Connect charity as a food supplier to serve homeless people at risk, he jumped at the opportunity. And he wanted to do more than the minimum.
“I didn’t want to feed stereotypical food and give them soup. We are all about generous giving at Soul Origin and a memorable customer experience, so I decided to give them salads and coffee.
We gave away 1000 salads and about 300 coffees.”
Staff from both stores volunteered their time to serve the food alongside Djamil and his wife, who works with him on the business.
The experience was so valuable for Djamil and the team that he is lining up to participate in this year’s event – but to raise the bar yet higher.
For this former barista, the capacity to add value to people’s lives is an important part of his role as a business owner.
He came to Soul Origin through connections – he already knew the general manager Chris Maverecic from previous dealings with the business when he had helped set up stores – and was familiar with the brand.
So when the opportunity came up to take on his own franchise within the network, Djamil leapt at it.
“Why? It’s the culture, why they do what they do. They allow people to grow and bring out the best in them.”
Djamil says Mravecic didn’t talk about business growth or money. “He said, ‘we primarily build our business on relationships,’” explains Djamil.
The stars were aligned, he says.
The support offered by a franchise system was a key attraction when deciding to become a small business owner.
“At first it seemed like an obstacle [to become a franchisee] because I’d never been a business owner before. But I realised that it was an opportunity and I wasn’t alone.
“We all dream about our own dream café. But with Soul Origin I have a support system. What’s better right now? No real support system, just me and my wife setting up?
“Soul Origin helps with the shopfit, trains you and guides you through it.”
The next step is in line with the brand’s philosophy of allowing people to grow. “I’ll be looking for more space to grow the [work] family and serve others, that’s our purpose. That will mean more stores. The more we get we have to give.”
In just three years with the business Djamil believes he has learned a lot.
“I’ve learned that the vision of the franchisor is very important. If you are going to jump on their vessel, you want to know where they are going. It’s not just where but who’s driving the rudder on the boat, because they can steer it wherever they want.”
It is also essential to build relationships with the support team and know what their goals are, he suggests.
“I’m in for the long term. I say that confidently because I’ve heard Chris and the team talk about their goals for 15 to 20 years. If they’re going to be here, I’m going to be around.
“What is very, very important, this experience has taught me that belief in people is very powerful. Soul Origin has empowered and entrusted me, and I grew. That’s what I want to do – give people space and help them grow.”