Amit Roy had always been excited about the restaurant industry and that made him join this space early in his career. Amit’s family business was in hotel equipment, they supplied hospitality equipment to hotels, cafes, restaurants, bakery. During his childhood, he would often skip school and spend time in his father’s office as he had this insatiable desire of knowing more about the business. After his graduation, he went to Australia for his masters and worked part-time in hotels and bars, for four years. After moving back to India he saw a niche space for consulting. He noticed everyone was offering specific consulting in a particular field and soon realized that no one was doing Turnkey consulting. With the help of Turnkey Consulting, which includes demographic inputs, trend analysis, and market research, it immensely helped him while building his own restaurants.
Amit started his consultancy firm known as ThinkTanc and they have completed 160+ projects till now. Apart from running the consultancy firm, Roy is a Partner of Watson’s Hotels, Slug and Royanna Military Canteen in Bangalore.
In Conversation With Amit Roy of Watson’s Hotels
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Amit Roy talks of his journey in the industry, the story behind his restaurants, keeping a balance between different concepts, marketing strategy and a lot more.
Keeping A Balance Between Different Concepts
There are many different types of restaurant concepts to choose from when planning a new restaurant. It can be hard to decide which concept will be right for you. Roy owns three restaurants with different concepts. According to Roy, while selecting a concept for a restaurant, his prior experience as a consultant comes into play.
“We create new ideas, innovations, USPs before setting up a new restaurant, just like in consultancy,” says Roy.
Also, the location also has a massive effect on choosing the most effective restaurant concept.
Watson’s Hotels is a chain of pubs located in Bangalore, Chennai, and Goa. Watson’s was established in 2014. Its concept was to be a neighborhood bar with comfort food, which a bar typically does not offer with a couple of drinks.
Slug is a brewpub which caters to the IT crowd. It is located near a tech park in Bangalore. Since it is located around a tech park, it is not restricted to a specific demographic, people from all around the world visit the place. It is a beer-centric place and consists of both north and south Indian food. For entertainment the pub has pool tables, Bollywood nights are held, bands come to perform at their place to keep the environment lively. This also helps them in customer retention.
Royanna Military Canteen is a quick dining restaurant with limited seating space. It only serves 7-10 dishes which are freshly prepared, one batch in the morning and the other batch in the evening.
Dealing With Competition
Every restaurant faces intense competition. Restaurant owners need to constantly find new ways to raise the bar and exceed customers’ expectations.
No one would want to open a similar place to the one already existing, all restaurants want to be unique. When you analyze the local competition, there will be a few restaurants that target the same customers.
According to Roy, “Competition is healthy and is always welcome.”
In the present scenario, millennials spend more than other generations on comforts and conveniences like taxis, pricey coffee and dining out. Roy is happy to operate in a healthy market where there are multiple options for customers and draws more crowd.
Restaurateurs hear a lot of conflicting and confusing ideas about restaurant promotions, but growing your business is an organic process that responds to nurturing efforts from the inside.
Research shows that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising. Even academic research into Word of Mouth marketing has proven its effectiveness in conversion.
For Roy, the marketing strategy which works best for him is the word of mouth. It’s a powerful eCommerce industry trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Consumers trust their friends. This is why word of mouth marketing is the most valuable source of marketing. It’s all about creating a buzz. It’s a passive way of gaining a following. The more you interact with people the more likely your name will spread.
‘If we provide total service, there is no need for offers and discounts. The product speaks for itself,’ says Roy.
It’s no secret the foodservice industry has one of the highest employee turnover rates in the business. But if you want to be a successful restaurant manager you need to hire, train, reward and retain staff capable of supporting your vision.
According to Roy, “The three main factors which affect staff retention are acknowledging their financial needs, job security, and their work environment.”
They were the first ones to introduce bonus plans for the bar employees. ‘If the company does good, we share the profits with the employees,’ says Roy.
The employees are encouraged to be a part of the system, their ideas and suggestions are acknowledged and are also implemented. The company looks after its employees in times of need and never delays in their payment. There is a sense of belongingness among the employees and the attrition rate is at a bare minimum.
How To Maintain Consistency Of Product
Consumers value the consistent experience that restaurants chain offer. Wherever they are located, consumers know they’ll be able to choose from the same menu, receive the same quality meals and be served by staff trained in the same way, all within a similar type of premises.
According to Roy, “The key factor for maintaining the consistency of the product is cutting the middlemen out.”
Roy prefers to procure the resources on his own. This helps them to get fresher items with better quality at a better price. It acts as a benefit for them because they get an advantage of price. Instead of getting the supply right, restaurants have to strengthen their internal system so that they do not compromise on quality.
“Our aim is to provide homely and comfort food for the patrons so that it is easier for them to replicate such food,’ says Roy.
Upcoming Trends in 2019
Customers are increasingly choosing to eat out at restaurants, rather than cooking at home. According to research from NPD, restaurant outlets now receive an additional 1.2 billion visits every year compared to in 2008 and have a 56% share of the market.
According to Roy, the restaurant industry is booming and people are exploring new dishes rather than being restricted to a specific dish. The new Korean and Peruvian restaurants are popularising in the market in the current years and their customer base is widely expanding.
As per Indian Food Services Report 2013, NRAI, “the continuously evolving economy, societal, and demographic changes have reshaped the Indian consumer’s profile, behavior and spending patterns. This transformation is by a surging economy, rapid urbanization, and the rise in personal disposable incomes as well as in the number of double-income households, the higher exposure to international lifestyles, and the elongation of individual lifestyles.”
“Consumers are well aware of what is on their plate, they have been globetrotting and are ready to experiment with various dishes,” says Roy.
Secret Sauce Behind Running A Successful Restaurant
Taking a restaurant to a successful position is slightly different from merely running a restaurant successfully. Though the former is a product of the latter, some extra measures need to be taken to fulfill your culinary dream.
According to Roy, in order to run a successful restaurant, there should be no compromise on the product’s quality. Food is vital for the reputation of a restaurant to grow. People judge you from the time they enter the restaurant until the team they leave.
‘The right mix of location, food offered pricing and efficient staff help the restaurant to be a success. Do it because you enjoy it,’ says Roy.