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Wim Ballieu on the growing pains of Balls & Glory

by PerspectiveInspire24/04/2018

Wim Ballieu on the growing pains of Balls & Glory

Wim Ballieu has always been involved in eating and doing business. The butcher’s son and chef from West-Flanders already had a catering company by the time he was 21. “When I was 29, I had a small midlife crisis. I realized that I missed cooking and doing business. So I sold my company and went to the cooking school of a friend who led workshops, to start making meatballs.” The result was Balls & Glory, the famous restaurant chain that serves handmade meat and veggie balls. Five years later, Balls & Glory has branches in Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels and Leuven as well as a food truck. “Everyone says we have grown very quickly, but I don’t think so. Look at Ellis Gourmet Burger, for instance. They started at about the same time as us, with a mono-dish restaurant, and now they operate in three countries with 23 branches. We, in contrast, are just now taking our first steps towards the Netherlands.”

Our corporate philosophy has always been one of trial and error.

Wim Ballieu, Balls & Glory

Our vision on a sheet of A4

“Our corporate philosophy has always been one of trial and error. Our second restaurant, for instance, was in Bruges, but that has closed now. We make sure that we can easily absorb our mistakes and start again straight away. It helps that we have a clear business plan. I wrote that down, right at the start, on a simple sheet of A4: an international dream, with fifty restaurants by 2025, including one in New York. I often go back to that A4 sheet and yell: ‘Hey! We simply want to make the best and most affordable meatballs!” It helps us stay flexible without losing our focus.”

Working with specialists

“I have always tried to put the right people in the right place. I like companies where specialists only have to do what they are good at. I’m convinced that everyone should focus on their own talent. But when your company grows quickly, sometimes you have no choice but to give one person two jobs, knowing that they are only good at one of the two. That’s just the way it is. But as soon as you can afford it, you have to outsource the things that you don’t want to do or can’t do to someone who can. That way, you can carry on doing your own thing as you please. Because no-one knows your brand, your ambition, your vision and your strategy better than you.”

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