I opened my first Apache franchise in Swords in 2001; and then I followed with another one in Glasnevin in 2004, after years of working in independent takeaways.
When I opened in Swords it was manic, because I was the first pizza outlet to open there, but after six months, other pizza companies opened. But the competition has been healthy since Swords has exploded in population in the past six or seven years.
When a premises came up in Glasnevin, I believed it had the right population to service another unit.
We employ 16 staff in total, and thankfully we didn't have to let anyone go during the recession, but if any staff left they weren't replaced. I also cut back on extra hours to reduce costs as well. We had to bring back our prices and do a lot of deals. We did a Buy One Get One Free deal, and we reduced all of our prices by 15pc across the board.
But we're now looking for one or two extra staff because things are beginning to pick up again.
We did get hit by around 30pc in the past three years but in the last month we've been thinking that we might be out of the recession. Now, I find it gets busy later in the evening because people are drinking at home and ordering in. Before, people were ordering at 7pm, but now we've found we're busier between 9pm and 10.30pm when people get the munchies. Takeaways didn't get hit as hard as other businesses because, of course, staying in is the new going out.
I find that people are shopping for bargains now. We started Happy Hours from 5-8pm and we did well with that. If Domino's is doing a deal on Wednesdays, they'll be busy and we'll be quieter. So you have to fight harder now for business, but maybe that's a good thing. You can't be complacent in this business.
We're doing more advertisements and leaflet drops, and we're going to send out texts if a deal is coming up. I was always in the food business but then I got into Apache Pizzas because it was a franchise which was doing well. Being independent is hard and the benefit to franchise is that you get a delivery from Apache once a week with everything in it, and you don't have to make your own dough.
I don't have any plans to open another outlet because there aren't many vacancies in Dublin. I'm happy with how my outlets are doing for the moment.