Building business with Sayed Habib of Danube Home

Danube Home is a leading home improvement and home furnishing retail brand. They have branched out from the Middle East to Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. Further, they have over 25% growth rate since 2011. In other words, they are among the top retailers in the Gulf Region. In the below interview, let us discuss about building business with Sayed Habib of Danube Home. He is the current GM for Buying & Business Development.

With regards to the region, Dubai’s population consists of young workforce who are looking for cost effective ready made living solutions. Which includes not just all kinds of interior features and products but outdoor solutions too. In other words, this is the kind of knowledge and wealth that Danube Home can provide as an experienced market leader in the industry.

1. How did you enter in the franchise business?

Danube Home is an organization with one stop solution for all of the home improvement needs. The concept of franchising our business was conceived and launched in 2014 with the intention of expanding it across GCC as much as possible. This decision was taken after the realization that this concept was required on our part in order to make our brand more accessible to people. So, that is how it all started.

2. Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?

The idea of this concept came when a middle aged couple wanted to have their dream home in Dubai. When they had this idea, they felt that embellishing their house was not easy after you have got it constructed by a contractor. One has to look for functional products i.e.  Flooring, bathroom fittings, kitchen appliances, lifestyle products, curtain, wall paper, furniture, outdoor and garden merchandise. So, one has to visit multiple stores in order to get the aforementioned things which is a tiring process. So, while thinking this through, they decided to launch a one stop solution brand for the complete home improvement needs which came to be known as Danube Home and that is how the brand was created.

3. What inspired the brand name?

The Chairman of Danube Group, Rizwan Sajan, the conglomerate that Danube Home is a part of, used to travel to Europe in the late 90’s near Danube River for sourcing some products to be traded in the GCC market. Danube is the Europe’s second largest river and connects many communities and families. Mr. Sajan was inspired by this river to create a venture in the same name. So, the company, Danube Home has been helping families build their homes and keep their communities together just like Danube River does.

4. What is the story behind the brand’s logo?

The story is as can be illustrated by logo and the vision of the brand viz. to breathe life into a structure. That is why the logo shows a home being decorated with brand name’s initial in it which indicates a sense of ease, convenience and world class quality products from across the globe.

5. What makes your brand different from your competitors?

Our offering is unique in itself. We don’t have any competitors as far as our concept is concerned. There has not been any brand in the region which provides the complete solution under one roof. The things that make us stand out are as follows:

  • One stop solution
  • Unique concept
  • Higher ROI
  • Easy to expand
  • Plug and play model
  • Low entry and exit cost

6. What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?

The franchisee is supposed to have a passion and love for home and decor. Apart from that, we look for their commitment to personal involvement and investment and trust in the Danube home as a brand  is, of course, a prerequisite for the our business relationship to start.

7. How long does it take, on average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?

It has been observed to take 3 years at most for the franchisees to recover their complete investment.

8. What was the major challenge you faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

Through 20 years of my professional career, I have been blessed to be a part of multiple start-ups and extraordinary projects. Each responsibility came with difficulties and challenges that went beyond building teams, getting trust of the teams on new projects and converting the blue prints into reality.

So I have had the mantra of “Team first everything second” embedded in my behavior with the following principles

  • Transparency in communication to all of stakeholders
  • Efficiency in making the best possible use of the resources at hand
  • Agility and the ability to make decisions quickly and being adaptable to change
  • Putting myself in the shoes of those I am dealing with
  • Inclusivity: The business model should be bottom-up instead of top-down, including all stakeholders in the process

8.1. What is your best achievement?

My biggest achievement has been creating and managing the team which has helped us introduce new product portfolios, build brand equity from ground up and develop a unique retail concept, known as Danube Home. Danube Home has won many accolades which include winning the Retail Excellence Award 2019, Great Place to Work Award, and Dubai Quality Award.

9. How does your business day start?

I always start where I left off the day prior. I always follow a to-do list to keep a track of what I have to do. The way I work is breaking a task down into different categories and deciding accordingly what has to be done first through last thing of it, briefing my team about it every day.

10. What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?

The best moment throughout our franchisee career was when one of our franchisee decided to open two more stores in the same city in the next six months by being convinced of the merits of projected revenue and operating margin cost. The feeling that we got that day made us more passionate about it, making it one of the best moments of our franchisee career.

11. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

We would like to see our brand as being the first thing that comes to people’s mind as soon as “home improvement” is uttered by anyone around them. I feel, Danube home being one of the most trustworthy, affordable, reliable brands across Africa, Middle East and Indian Subcontinent has the potential to realize this in the next five years.

12. Any tip for the reader who wants to be in franchisee business?

Making smart choices every step of the way—and avoiding certain pitfalls—can make a big difference to your bottom line and your franchise’s viability. Other than that, having the right team is also one of the most important things to having a great franchise business along with a wonderful delegation approach.

Source: The Franchise Talk

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