Haristo is the brainchild of Kawaljeet Singh, a second-generation entrepreneur who hails from a reputed business family in Delhi. He holds an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and has a Masters in International Business from Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Germany. Being a foodie and travel enthusiast, he has backpacked across Europe and explored the food scene there. While enjoying thin crust pizza and kebabs, he always thought of opening a food business of his own back home.
After completing his studies, he did not accept the hefty pay package offered by a Multinational Bank. Instead, he decided to follow his passion and opened his restaurant venture, Haristo, which means ‘Thank You’ in Greek. For him, the pie charts he would prepare for the classroom presentations have come into real life in the form of Pizza slices!
In Conversation With Kawaljeet Singh Of Haristo
With two casual dining and one QSR setup, Haristo has already set a benchmark and has warm reception since its inception in 2014. Haristo takes its patrons to a heavenly journey of authentic thin-crust pizzas. In an exclusive interview with The Restaurant Times, Kawaljeet Singh talks about his pizzeria brand, the importance of location, essential marketing dynamics his future plans and a lot more.
“From making the dough to baking the pizza, we take utmost care to deliver a great experience to customers. We use the classic stone ovens that lend the authentic taste to the pizzas. Everything in the menu is hand-prepared in our kitchen to give the consumers a wonderful dining/delivery experience”, says Singh.
Importance of Location
The concept, quality of service and food are all key to a restaurant’s success, but they’re not the only things to be considered. According to Singh, location is critical because it is what determines the restaurant’s reputation and whether the target audience is walking through your doors or not.
‘Finding and setting up a brand in a prime retail space is very important,’ says Singh.
Even a difference in the floor can change the game. It is vital that an outlet is located on the ground or on the first floor. Studies have shown that patrons do not only make a choice of location by the area but also by which level is it.
When you know what your restaurant type is and who your ideal group of diners will be, you can begin to decide exactly where your brand should be located. For instance, people will rarely travel long distances for a fast-food restaurant. But they will travel long distances for a restaurant that serves specialty food they can’t find anywhere else or if they particularly enjoy the food there.
So, it is imperative to analyze your target customers before zeroing down on a location, says Singh.
Advertising is significant for a restaurant, and it is also a massive part of restaurant management. Online marketing and influencer marketing are the two most essential dynamics. Word of Mouth marketing is another excellent method to build brand awareness. It’s all about creating a buzz.
According to Singh, people today love to experiment. They love trying out different restaurants, different cuisines, various locations, and all these filters are now built into the available online ordering platforms that allow customers to identify the restaurant of their choice.
We have a strong social media team, which actively and regularly gets the influencers involved. We invite food bloggers and influencers to dine at our outlets and share their genuine feedback with us and review us on their blog.
This not only helps in advertising but it also actively helps in knowing exactly what customers want. They are the best source of feedback.
Haristo also participates in various college fests to increase its visibility and reach out to the youth. It creates a massive buzz in the local market as well, says Singh.
Successful restaurant owners know the importance of having the right employees. A brand must have a good team in place during all the seasons, but specifically during the time of the year where customer volume increases, like the summertime.
Placing greater emphasis on finding and training staff can reduce costs over time and enhance the customer service, these should always be the two critical priorities for owners.
According to Singh, as the brand expands, not only the revenue increases but the problems at the operational and management level also rise. Staff management is a significant challenge for Haristo. To overcome this, we have a base kitchen where we first train the staff efficiently and then assign them to the outlets. Secondly, managing the delivery experience has been very challenging because we cannot control and monitor how the order is delivered. So we make sure that the packaging is appropriately done at our end to minimize the issues.
According to Singh, good teamwork helps to build morale in the workplace, which makes workers more productive and that ultimately improves profits. For restaurants that have a distinguished and skilled team, problem-solving is easier since people with different skills and knowledge will work together to produce a creative solution.
‘At Haristo, we make sure that we focus on all three factors of staff management, namely, hiring, training and retaining. Hiring at Hartisto is done mostly through referrals. Stay on the lookout and actively recruit new employees. Look for the spark in someone that shows the initiative and a positive work ethic. Even if you are fully staffed at present, you never know when an opening will appear. It’s good to have a backlog of new team members that you can call in’, says Singh.
For staff retention, Singh adds that they make sure that they give all the staff their due say in the brand. Timely promotions, appraisals, and their participation in the business discussion bind them to the brand. It takes time and patience to find and develop restaurant employees that will become valuable team members. Acknowledge the effort you’re putting toward training and skills development. Make sure they appreciate that and embrace their opportunity for growth.
Today, everything is digital, and everything is automated. Technology has made its way into the restaurant operations as well and is aiding restaurant management like never before. The Point of Sale software provides complete restaurant management from a single point.
“I have been using Posist software in all three outlets of Haristo. It has been a lifesaver and has especially benefited me in executing and handling my inventory. It helps me keep a clear path of the currently available stock at all outlets. The Stock-In & Stock-Out feature gives you the details of the available Stock at the beginning and the end of each day. The apps that have come up have helped me a lot. I have a track record of every single detail,” says Singh.
With the success of the current operational outlets, Haristo is also set for expansion. We are coming up with a franchise model. We have three models prepared. One is the Quick Service format, the second is the casual dining format, and finally, the third one is the lounge format. We are also launching two delivery-only models. We are also adding pizzas from different countries on our menu by the mid of 2019 to delight customers further, says Singh.