A question that troubles all entrepreneurs entering the hospitality business for the first time is ‘how to start a restaurant and take it to success?’ Obviously, the answer to this isn’t rocket-science, but if given a careful thought then it is quite simple to comprehend. The eating out habits in India have been changing drastically and are pushing the sector to grow at a CAGR of 11.9 percent and reach $79.65 billion by 2028, hence inviting more entrepreneurs to invest in the market as per a report release by www.restaurantindia.in and Francorp on the side-lines of the 11th Indian Restaurant Congress.
The restaurant industry, not just in India, but globally is in an odd dilemma. While brand sales remain strong, profitability could be better. The staffing problem is complex, and the cost of people is becoming higher day by day. However, the industry's appetite for growth is perhaps at its strongest.
The Theme for Indian Restaurant Congress 2022 "Innovating today…Imagining tomorrow" focuses at large what is there for restaurant organisations to be unlocked for future growth, innovation? And, that’s where brands are competing with each other for the fastest evolution ever.
“Changing fast for betterment is the future in India. It is inspiring to see what restaurant owners are doing in India,” shared Navin Gurnaney, CEO, Tim Hortons India who believed that it is easy to build a fort but it is far more difficult to defend it. According to him, one has to respond to changing landscape especially with a paradigm shift among people- eating away from home and again eating at home.
He is also of the opinion that technology has become critically important and everybody is using tech in some or the other way. Technology works more importantly for enhancing the customer experience.
Commenting on the same, Unnat Varma, MD, Pizza Hut- APAC said, “I believe that the time for India has come and it is now. Especially when we talk about recovery and the same that has happened in India in the last 12 months stands out tall much beyond the numbers.”
He also shared that for him, the way consumers have come back, business activity has come back, youngsters’ activity has come back into newer product and services, he thinks India stands out and the Indian GDP is the fastest moving GDP at least in the region. And, also projected to be fastest for next year.
“Design innovation is another thing that is critically important. India today is far travelled today in terms of experience. Social media has made the world a small global village knows what’s happening in the world. We have to step up and design our spaces in a manner that it feels for a global experience,” added Gurnaney by pointing that product innovation has become more urgent today as one has to go with the need and demand of urban Indian consumer.
Sharing his view on the same Akshay Bector, Chairman & MD, Cremica Food Industries mentioned, “Innovation is the key, we have to build a brand. Restaurant earlier was a restaurant, today it is a brand. The need of the right supply chain is the need of the hour. The need for building backend, supply chain, operation is very important from day 1 in order to grow to a newer and greater height.”
People: The Secret Weapon to Success
Despite over 20 lakh jobs lost during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry is expected to reach employment figures of 1 crore by 2025, as per the Food Service and Restaurant Business Report 2022-23, by Francorp and restaurantindia.in.
“One thing we don’t talk about as often is people capital and the truth is technology is replicable, the tech you buy somebody can buy within a week, design is replicable in fact somebody can do better than that, it is easy to do product innovation. But the secret weapon we don’t focus enough on is people which can be a distinct comparative example for you,” added Gurnaney by pointing that we really need to pay greater attention on people aspect, how we select them, train them and develop people and show them a path. But in India we have rather hierarchical mind-set and it’s a bit of tragedy.
“It is actually the irony that the hierarchy of people interacting with the consumer in a restaurant is the least paid. So, what is happening in the west is that companies in the west are not just building a team but investing in their overall growth. Your customer experience can never exceed your team member’s experience,” added Varma by adding that we need to create an environment where people are not just skilled but empowered, cultured and there is a culture that foster their growth.