Craveable Brands CEO reveals leadership secrets

By Sarah Stowe | 30 Oct 2019 View comments

Brett Houldin knows about finance. Following his grandfather’s footsteps into accounting, this energetic CEO of craveable brands notched up experience with high profile brands such as PwC, Qantas, News Corp and The Star casino.

Today he leads the multi-brand franchisor which operates the 600-store-strong Oporto, Red Rooster and Chicken Treat franchise chains.

In this podcast Houldin shares his perspective on working with private equity, collaborating with all stakeholders in a franchise business, and what it takes to be a good leader.

“I got a cadetship with Price Waterhouse and that opened up my eyes to many different industries,” he says.

“The real reason for taking a shift into food and franchising was in 2014 when an opportunity came up and I evaluated that at the time to further my career in a different industry, learn new things, take on more responsibility broader than finance. Some of that included IT, HR and people, and legal and supply chain, and a few other key areas within what was QSRH at the time.”

It was a significant career move, he says.

“I saw a huge amount of opportunity in some of the key areas of strategy I felt I could add value to.”

It was a transition period for the business, refocused on a growth-oriented agenda and that aligned well with Houldin’s goals.

Perhaps unusually for a numbers-oriented executive he reveals that his real love is away from the financial figures.

“My passion is about working with people,” he says. “The one thing I just love is working, developing and coaching great people and that includes our franchisees, it includes the people that support them in our head office as well.”

Why franchising?

“It’s real…You get the opportunity to deal with day-to-day matters that the average consumer interacts with everyday.

“I had to learn what franchising really was from an outsider’s-in perspective. And one thing you have to manage quite closely is the stakeholder relationships.”

In this podcast Houldin explains how to achieve profitability for all stakeholders.

How to get it right

  • Work with great systems
  • Work with the right people
  • Be transparent, reasonable business partners
  • Constant dialogue

The three-brand business has 13000 crew, more than 400 franchisees and 180 employees at head office. So how did Houldin manage the transition of the business from one private equity firm to another? It’s really three roles in one, he points out:

  1. Running the business
  2. Managing a large project
  3. Working with shareholders

Find out more in this podcast and discover what the craveable brands strategy is for future expansion.