His journey was far from easy, but he believed in the might of consistent effort and perseverance which resulted in the establishment of 36 restaurants across 10 cities in Pakistan. Burger Lab CEO Khizer Baig reveals his thrilling story for the first time with the World
Muhammad Umar Waqqas
Those who are successful in business and life are typically those who have learned to fight their instincts. They are willing to take risks, to stand out from the crowd, and to face challenges head-on. They know that these things are often necessary in order to achieve their goals. Karachi born Khizer Baig is one of them, he shares his struggle timeline for the emerging talent and young entrepreneurs of Pakistan.
“After completing my MBA, I joined my father’s auto accessories business. We decided to start a new business, as our current business was on a decline. I always believed in building a quality brand. I realised that it was impossible to build a brand where everyone is just following the same business norms.
After 1 year, I finally decided to leave my father’s business and joined a local commercial restaurant equipment company called Nabsons. From there, I learnt a lot about restaurants and their back office operations. I was the sales manager in Nabsons. We sold ovens and other kitchen equipment to multinational brands like Dominos & Nandos.
After spending a year in Nabsons, my father and my brother Taha had spent most of their savings, and there was no way that we could run our domestic expenses through a job.
Eventually, Taha came to me and advised me to start something of our own. Taha was smart, he studied many American brands like Shake shack, Five Guys, In and Out and Smash Burgers. He developed some great recipes like FireHouse and Big Bang. The experiment went well. I asked my childhood friend Bilawal and my Senior from Nabsons Imran Sial to join us in this business as obviously Taha and I had a limited budget.
Burger Lab started off as a take away outlet from Rahat Commercial Karachi. At that time, we saw a big gap in gourmet burgers. Many multinational brands like Johnny rockets, Fat Burger and Burger King were coming to Pakistan. A brand-named Burger shack was doing wonders at a Seher commercial those days.
It was just us ‘being at the right place, at the right time!’
On the eventful day of January 5th, 2014, an unforgettable experience unfolded. Bilawal and I found ourselves stationed at the cash counter, while my brother took charge of the griddle. Our venture into the culinary realm led us to acquire all the necessary equipment from Sher Shah. Fortunately, Imran Sial, hailing from Nabsons, came to our aid by assisting in the repair of these imported Sher Shah machines.
During the initial four months of Burger Lab, I was an integral part of Nabsons, and as a result, there were no days off, including Sundays. After concluding my office duties around 6 pm, I would make a pit stop at MAKRO to procure supplies since we had yet to establish a reliable supply chain at that time. Subsequently, I would tirelessly man the cash counter until 1 am.
Our marketing efforts were truly exceptional, with Imagine Ex playing a pivotal role in executing innovative and unconventional strategies. The creative genius of Hira Jeddy, a graduate from Indus Academy, shone through in the remarkable design of Burger Lab’s iconic packaging, especially the renowned Burger Box that remains etched in the memories of many.
Burger Lab’s commitment to freshness and made-to-order approach struck a chord with the younger generation, catapulting it into the spotlight and making it the talk of the town.
This success story began with our first dine-in outlet at Shaheed-e-Millat, Karachi and unfolded into a vast franchising program, resulting in the establishment of 36 restaurants across 10 cities in Pakistan.
Undeniably, this journey was far from easy, but we always believed in the power of consistent effort and perseverance.
We wanted to go into the masses. I studied the strategy of Domino’s pizza worldwide and realised that the only way for massive expansion was through franchising. We learnt how the multinational fast-food chains operated worldwide; therefore, we developed a similar model and SOPs which were internationally accepted. It also gave an opportunity to the young entrepreneurs to learn how to operate a business. We always try to look for like-minded people who have the passion to run our franchise, and believe in the values set by Burger Lab”.
Burger Lab’s franchising program covers everything from development, training, operational, and supply chain support. We offer franchises for a fee of Rs. 4.5 million to 6.5 million depending upon the location and size, the total initial investment ranges from Rs. 1.5 to Rs.2 crores. Burger Lab’s franchise agreement lasts for 10 years, and is renewable, and the royalty fee is 6% of gross sales. The process for shortlisting franchisees for a Burger Lab’s franchise typically involves several steps to ensure that the potential franchisee is well-qualified and aligned with the brand’s values and business model. Following is the franchise acquiring model:
Research and Expression of Interest: Prospective franchisees often begin by researching the franchising opportunity and expressing their interest to the Burger Lab’s corporate team. This can be done through our official website www.burgerlab.com.pk
Initial Qualification: Burger Lab evaluates the potential franchisee’s background, experience, financial capability, and overall suitability for owning and operating a franchise. This might involve assessing the candidate’s business acumen, management skills, and financial stability.
Submission of Application: The candidate submits a formal application to Burger Lab. This application typically includes personal information, financial statements, business plan, and any other required documents.
Review and Evaluation: Burger Lab’s corporate team reviews the application, assesses the candidate’s qualifications and conducts due diligence. This may involve background checks, credit checks, and other assessments to verify the candidate’s credibility.
Initial Interview: Qualified candidates may be invited for an initial interview with Burger Lab’s representatives. This interview allows both parties to discuss the franchise opportunity, expectations, and mutual goals.
Disclosure and Documentation: The candidate receives the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) which provides detailed information about the franchise opportunity, including financial obligations, operating procedures, and other relevant details. The candidate may need to review and sign various legal documents at this stage.
Financial Verification: Burger Lab may require the candidate to provide proof of funds or secure financing to demonstrate their ability to invest in and sustain the franchise.
Training and Orientation: If the candidate progresses further, they may be required to attend training sessions and orientation programs provided by Burger Lab. This helps ensure that franchisees understand the brand’s standards, operations, and customer service expectations.
Site Selection: If applicable, the candidate may work with Burger Lab to identify and secure a suitable location for the franchise outlet. Burger Lab often provides guidance on site selection based on their experience and market research.
Final Interview and Approval: A final interview may be conducted with the senior executives or franchise development team members to assess the candidate’s readiness and commitment. If both parties are satisfied, the candidate may receive approval to become a Burger Lab’s franchisee.
Signing the Franchise Agreement: Once approved, the candidate signs the franchise agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of the franchise relationship, including fees, royalties, operational guidelines and other important details.