Tuesday, 9th Jan, 2016
Blame it on globalisation or credit it on exposure, the Indian consumer is demanding new concepts in food and is getting it! From QSRs to fine dining a lot has already been done but much is still in the offing. This is a very interesting phase for Indian food service when entrepreneurs are excited about the opportunity and investors are boosting morale with good valuations.
As lifestyles are changing very fast and more money is leaving the pockets of average city dweller for entertainment, there are many questions that emerge as well. Is the dust blowing already? Will it settle soon? Will market continue to grow? Will costs be controlled? Will infrastructure build fast enough? Will regulators kill this bird? And so on…
I do not think that I have all the information to answer many of these questions and I definitely do not have power to predict the future but I can definitely say that innovation and scale are going to be some of key game changers for any player in the market place. While many stand-alone restaurants are becoming national and multinational chains, many international chains are becoming “Indianised”. They are able to do that with strong focus on innovation in cooking styles, menu development, logistics, delivery, technology etc. There is also a huge opportunity waiting for multiple outlets and if you have the scalability model, chances are that the investors are already knocking on your door.
Now here is the dichotomy: Continuous innovation makes scaling up that much more complicated.
So how does one ensure that while innovation goes on, it gets standardised all across – in no time? After all, you want to have your customer the same exhilarating experience every single time!
Here is my equipment strategy to bridge this challenge.
- Flow of operations: make the flow standard and adaptive. When you bring is some changes in the menu then you should be able to use the same layout as much as possible. At the same time, there should be very high regard for hygiene in layout design.
- Space for kitchen: give maximum space for movement, air circulation and food storage. These are all very important aspects they should be given their due attention. At the same leave some extra space for future expansion or addition of that extra fryer!
- Ventilation: good and safe environment will keep your staff and equipment in the right spirits! Using the expertise at this time can go a long way in not only creating a good environment but also saving costs. Many kitchens exhaust out air conditioned air and that can be saved with better deign of hoods and exhaust systems.
This is a no brainer. Your equipment selection and your kitchen design should be compatible with your menu. Of course, having a standard and compact menu helps! The kitchen design should be as per the final delivery promise. The equipment should produce exactly what you want it to. While designing your kitchen, do not compromise on the following:
As space continues to come at very high premium, it is imperative that less equipment do more things. Look for technology and cooking solutions that allow you to do more than one thing in some crucial pieces of equipment.
You cannot scale if you cannot standardise your food and operations. You cannot standardise them if you cannot standardise your equipment. Look out for the answers to following questions about the equipment before your buy.
- Does it help you standardise your operation by having electronic controls?
- Can it be retrofitted with more and updated controls later?
- Does the equipment manufacturer have wherewithal and commitment to improving their technology?
- Getting the right people is another big challenge. So check if the equipment is idiot proof and whether you can do with low skill staff?
- Can the equipment get service all over the market?
Lesser the breakdowns, the better. Initial capital cost is not as important as the cost of breakdowns. One must check the following:
- Breakdown history.
- Spare Parts availability and cost. Some key parts can be very expensive
- Service network and availability of maintenance contracts.
- Life expectancy.
Price of the equipment is something everyone checks and usually high discounts is what excites many purchasers but the real cost lies somewhere else. One must check:
- Operation cost: A refrigerator runs 24/7 for 365 days. Even 200 W differences in energy consumption can lead to high profits. Look for energy ratings and prefer equipment with energy star ratings.
- Capacity Cost: Does the equipment really give you the capacity that you are buying? Many manufacturers do not give this information very clearly. Please check this carefully.
- Hygiene Cost: Is the equipment cleanable? Will it infest bacteria? Is the material used food grade? These are some the questions you need to ask as well. These are the corners very easy to cut but they can have a very high cost to your operations later. Look for equipment with NSF ratings.
- Maintenance costs: The manufacturer should be able to give you the list of parts that generally break down. Do not ignore that:
- There are many parts which are part of normal wear and tear and are not covered under warranty.
- There are many things that need to be cleaned with chemicals which are costly and time consuming.
- Safety Cost: The equipment can cause accidents which can be very costly for your whole business. Look for safety features and certifications like NSF, CE etc. Do ask for original certificates.
There could be more. I am still learning. But this strategy could be a good start for all who believe in scale and hence standardisation.
Happy Cooking !