The Galito’s story begins in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. The chicken franchise brand first opened its doors in 1996. From one store, today the company employs 3000+ people (directly and indirectly) and operates over 183 stores in 16 countries across four continents.
Galito’s is operating in the casual dining segment which offers customers fast food, but made with quality ingredients and a premium setting. Their core offering is a variety of flame grilled chicken dishes.
A couple of years after leaving school, Louis Germishuys was working as a load master for a South African airline, he was living in Rosettenville where he would often buy flame-grilled chicken from a local takeaway called Chickenland.
Growing up in Nelspruit, I spent loads of time at my best friend Francisco’s house watching his parents cook delicious homestyle Portuguese food and sharing those meals together. That’s really where my love of food began.
One day, Germishuys noticed that the Chickenland had changed its to Nando’s and pretty soon, Nando’s outlets were popping up all over the country’s nine Provinces.
“I immediately knew that I wanted to own a Nando’s franchise but I was encouraged to work at the company first. It meant that by the time I opened my own Nando’s in my home town of Nelspruit, I didn’t only understand the fast-food industry, but the business side of things as well.”
Things went well with Germishuys’ first store, and after a short while he decided to open a second outlet but unfortunately, that was when he saw the rug getting pulled out under him. Nando’s decided to list on JSE and therefore wanted to buy stores from all the franchisees including Germishuys.
“I was offered the chance to work for Nando’s directly again, but it wasn’t for me. I wanted to own and operate my own thing.”
Although Germishuys’s relationship with Nando’s came to an end, he was hooked with the flame-grilled chicken business, and already had some ideas on what he’d do differently with his own brand.
Freed from the limitations of being a franchise owner, Germishuys opened the first Galito’s in 1996 next to the Nando’s he was previously owning in Nelspruit(now Mbombela).
“People said I was crazy, they said I would be out of business in 6 months. How could I try to compete so directly with an established player?”
But there was a strategy to Germishuys’s madness, he realised that facing competition head-on actually brought with it certain advantages that hiding couldn’t bring.
“I knew that I didn’t have the marketing budget of many of the established fast food brands. But I could benefit from their marketing spend by positioning myself close to them. They would bring in the crowds – I just needed to be able to coax consumers my way once they got there.”
Germishuys already knew that many buying decisions are made in the final moments before choosing a product, brand or in his case, meal. It’s known as the last mile of marketing.
Germishuys triggered buyers psyche by targeting the senses of his potential customers. In the early days, he would put the grill outside and let the smell of the marinade lure people over.
“In the early days, I would actually put the grill outside and let the smell of the marinade coax people over, and I differentiated myself by offering dishes like pap,”
It was a smart, innovative way for an entrepreneur with a great product but smaller resources to compete with bigger players with more marketing budgets.
“I never thought of making Galito’s a franchise however due to the success of the first store and the requests to expand and broaden our reach outside of Nelspruit, it just made good logical sense. And as they say, the rest is history.”
Over the years, the Galito’s chain has expanded to over 183+ store presence in 16 countries including South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Pakistan, Malaysia, UAE, Kazakhstan, India and Canada amongst others.
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