Graduate Lunch Box franchisee

Double-degree graduate swaps IT for a Lunch in a Box franchise

Sarah Stowe

In his native Fiji Ray Chand loved cooking. Now he’s in partnership with his uncle in a Lunch in a Box franchise and he couldn’t be happier. But that wasn’t the path he was expecting to take.

With an older brother working at KMPG, when Ray arrived in Australia a more corporate path lay ahead.

“But I arrived here and had a different idea. Australia is a place with lots of opportunities to do things,” he says.

“When I came from Fiji to pursue my studies I had to do part time work to pay for the fees, and for my rent. So I worked in McDonald’s, Domino’s and then as a kitchen hand at My Muscle Chef.

“Working in McDonald’s is fast paced, you have to be quick, it’s another level. I was quickly able to adapt to new changes,” Ray says.

“It’s hard to adapt in a foreign country, adapting to a new lifestyle and new friends. But the experience was good.”

Graduate swaps IT for Lunch in a Box franchise

He completed his four-year, double degree; a Bachelors in IT and Business Administration at ACU and was ready for the next phase of his life.

So when his uncle introduced the idea of going into business together as Lunch in a Box franchisees, this newly minted graduate was excited. The pair took a few months to thoroughly research the catering business and the potential market.

“I met the franchisor, Wayne, and we spoke about his ideas and his plans for the future,” says Ray.

The 24-year-old liked what he saw, and undertook three days of training, which involved learning the basics of the business, and refining his knifing skills.

Once Ray and Sudev had signed up to the catering business, they found the training easily translated into the day to day operations and the manual and guidelines were easy to follow.

“It’s great working with Wayne; I can call him up and he’s always ready to help. He drops in and checks on how the business is going,” says Ray.

“My uncle looks after admin, I’m in the store and I manage the orders, make any adjustments, and liaise with customers.”

From a dark kitchen to consumers

The business operates from a dark kitchen so it is not visible to the general public. Ray and Sudev primarily service corporate businesses and schools.

“We have a small sign promoting us and do lunchtime specials to build traffic but most orders come through DoorDash, UberEats and so on,” says Ray.

His goal is to reach consumers, and to this end is launching social media campaigns to spread the word about the new business.

“Lunch in a Box is different from other businesses,” says Ray. “It’s providing premium healthy and hearty meals that fit with Australians’ changing lifestyle and eating habits,” he says.

The Lunch in a Box menu features wraps, rolls, baguettes and five choices of salads, with protein options, turning the meals into hearty and healthy lunches – all packaged in a box.

Reaching new markets

“My plan is to try and reach out to gyms, I believe with our menu this is a good solution for them,” he says.

Lunch in a Box has the potential, with the right marketing, to build a profile close to that of a big fast food brand, he adds.

“I believe in traditional marketing using brochures, radio and TV, and of course social media. When I was working part time in Domino’s, we usually promoted discount deals through flyers. I want to use that idea in different way.”

Ray turns to the franchisor to get final approval for his promotional ideas to drive sales.

“At the moment, we can cater for at least 500 boxes from our dark kitchen. As sales increase, we will have the potential to move to a bigger, more visible site.”

The business is based in Parramatta, with nearby apartment blocks and corporate offices. They can also target the neighbouring hubs at Westmead and Blacktown.

“Already within six months we are working with TAFE and hospitals, and looking for more big corporate and council clients,” he says. Add in almost 90 schools in the area and there is plenty of potential.

“Whenever I’m free I email a prospective client and a few days later call them and chat through what we can do. We discuss the products and what we can offer them.”

A family business

The business is truly a family affair. When Ray is inundated with orders, he knows just who to call.

“Mum likes to be involved so I’m teaching her the basics at Lunch in a Box. She was an HR senior in the Ministry of Education in Fiji, and she’s still young and energetic.

“My family’s background is that everyone is in the public sector. I wanted to go outside the box and do something for myself. In Fiji, my goal was to have my own business and I have a long-term plan to own an Indian Fijian cuisine business somewhere in Australia.

“This is very different from being an IT graduate, but my experience as a Lunch in a Box franchisee is a massive help to understanding day-to-day operations in hospitality.

“That’s a long way off though. There’s so much to achieve with Lunch in a Box first,” says Ray.