Julien Perret is the founder and CEO of BCHEF. Following a Master of Engineering & Strategy from Ecole Centrale Paris (one of the French “Grandes Ecoles”) in 2005, he worked as a strategy consultant helping more than a hundred companies in various sectors before launching the BCHEF franchise in France in 2014.
1. Tell us about the BCHEF concept.
BCHEF is the fastest growing fast casual & coffee shop chain in France, created in 2014. BCHEF is a fresh and groundbreaking restaurant chain with a multi-product offering that suits every type of customers at any moment of the day. We sell coffee, French & American pastries, ice creams, bagels, burgers & salads to stay or to go. BCHEF is also a third place where everyone can relax and hang out with family and friends, a clear link between authenticity and innovation, fast food and casual restaurants.
2. How and when did you become involved with BCHEF?
I founded BCHEF in December 2013 and opened the first restaurant eight months later in august 2014. One year later, the fourth restaurant opened near Paris and we recruited our first franchisee !
3. What was your background prior to joining BCHEF?
Following a Master of Engineering & Strategy from Ecole Centrale Paris (one of the French “Grandes Ecoles”) in 2005, I worked as a strategy consultant helping more than a hundred companies in various sectors. After eight years, I quit and started a round the world trip which led me to the conclusion that my life needed a massive change. I created BCHEF in 2014 with no prior experience in the Fast Casual industry.
4. What are some of the advantages in being a BCHEF franchisee?
BCHEF benefits from both advantages of an emerging players and more experienced chains. Indeed, we are not yet present in the US and the first franchisee will take advantage from a width choice of locations to start their business and from direct contact with the chain CEO. However, we already have experience in Franchise management with 30 opened restaurants in France and 20 additional franchises opening in the next 12 months.
5. Who is your ideal franchisee
We are looking passionate individuals, eager to contribute to BCHEF’s first steps in the US. The ideal franchisee should perfectly understand his local market and demonstrate his enthusiast to grow the brand with us (e.g. become a multi-unit owner) in the medium term.
6. Tell us a little about the Fast Casual Market?
Fast casual has been the growth segment of the restaurant industry since 2000. While it still accounts for less than 10% of the total restaurant market, the number and diversity of fast casual concepts has been exploding across the world, especially in Europe and in the US
Progressively, consumers are looking for healthy alternatives, speed and convenience. Fast casual fills this need and sits between the more traditional full-service restaurants and the typical fast food establishments.
Fast casual, is the smallest portion of the industry, coming in at only 7.5%, roughly, of market share, but sales grew at 13.5% in 2014 and 10.4% in 2015 (compared to 5.5% for the whole restaurant industry on the same period)
7. What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
The human relationship between a franchisor and his franchisee is the key to success, much more than the concept by itself. This led us to review our integration process last year, with higher recruitment standards and stronger training programs. We also changed or monthly assessment system to facilitate franchisee contribution and operational excellence.
I also learned to avoid focusing on one unique trend. Many of our competitors are niche specialists, which can generate high margins for a short time but highly limits the capacity to grow and survive in the long term. We are the only fast casual player in France to focus on several products with constant evolutions: this creates much more entry barriers for potential competitors trying to enter our direct market.
8. Do you have a mentor and is their someone you use for inspiration?
Elon Musk and Richard Branson inspire me, for their ability to turn something impossible to reality.
9. What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
Numbers are vitals, but don’t let numbers overtake the importance of human relationship between a franchisor and his future franchisee.
10. In your opinion, why do you think that BCHEF would be a great opportunity for someone?
During the last two years, BCHEF proved it’s ability to succeed in the French Fast Casual market, with an healthy, authentic & mass market concept. We are now looking for daring entrepreneurs who will team up with us to start BCHEF’s history in the US. These first franchisees will benefit from privileged access conditions and will directly work with our CEO. They’ll also benefit from a width choice of locations to start their business.