How I recruited an finance director for fast growth

Tiffinbites' founder Jamal Hirani on hiring an FD for the fast growing Indian restaurant chain


It became clear to Jamal Hirani and his co-founder Jonathan Marks if they wanted their new Indian fast food venture tiffinbites to grow at a rapid rate, they’d need help with the figures. With six stores launched in a year and two openings a month thereafter, getting an FD on board as quickly as possible was a priority.

“We only launched in January 2003 but we soon realised we needed someone to manage our finances and quick. We wanted to find the right mix of personality, credentials and experience. We were looking for a thirtysomething accountant who was fed up working for the likes of PwC and auditing all these new businesses and actually wanted to be a part of something exciting,” says Hirani.

They began the process by contacting recruitment consultants and asking business contacts, including their existing auditors, to try and find the right candidate. Hirani also believes tiffinbites’ high profile website, which has received over 16 million hits a year, gave them a major advantage in getting the word on the street. Eventually the combination of all these mediums paid off when Akbal Johal turned up to see them.

“He had the right background, having worked with both small and large firms, but also the right personality” says Hirani. “With just two of us as managers we need someone who had strength of character as well as ability. When I met him, he turned up in trousers and a T-shirt I knew he would compliment our existing skills. It helps that a lot of Indians go into accounting.”

Hirani was eager for Johal to get his hands dirty, so he was immediately immersed in the day to day running of the business and put in charge of the one of tiffinbites’ outlets. It’s an experience which has paid off. With first hand evidence of all aspects of the company the new FD was able to highlight key areas where savings could be made including slashing 30% of their shopfitting costs, which, according to Hirani, means they can open two stores and “get the third one for free”.

With an AIM listing planned for February and a clear infrastucture for the business, Hirani is in no doubt hiring an FD early doors will pave their path to success. “If you know where you want to be in a year or three year’s time then an FD’s the person who’s going to get you there. They’ll bring a fresh pair of eyes to the business. Yes there are costs involved, but you can combine salary with equity options, and the savings Johal makes more than pay his wages.”

We were looking for a thirtysomething accountant who was fed up working for the likes of PwC and auditing all these new businesses and actually wanted to be a part of something exciting

AT A GLANCE

Company name: tiffinbites Activity: Indian fast food company Founded: 2003 Turnover: £4.5m Employees: 20

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