When Rahul Tirumalapragada was in the UK for his MBA, he had tasted some amazing milkshakes and was keen to replicate the same taste in his hometown, Hyderabad. Soon after returning from the UK, the entrepreneurial bug bit him, and he decided to start a milkshake outlet. Initially, Rahul was criticized by many for his business idea, but he went ahead anyway. After rigorous research for over a year, he established the first Makers Of Milkshakes (MoM) drive-in outlet on a Bangalore highway. Today, MOM is very well known for product differentiation and product standardization.
What’s remarkable about the brand is that it is purely bootstrapped, and it operates purely on a franchise model. The chain is highly successful in Southern India, with outlets in Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bangalore. Over the last seven years, the company has opened outlets across 75 locations in India and is even operating in the UAE and the USA.
In conversation with Rahul Tirumalapragada, Founder, Makers Of Milkshakes
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Rahul Tirumalapragada, Founder, Makers Of Milkshakes, uncovers how the franchising model was instrumental in the brand’s success and shares the secret behind their consistent taste, which makes the customers keep coming back for more.
Story Behind Makers Of Milkshakes(MoM)
Rahul established the shake business in 2013. He went to London to pursue his postgraduate degree with the aim of getting adequate exposure to various business opportunities. He went to one of the American diners, tasted the authentic thick shake, and got excited about starting a shake business in India. He realized that such high quality and thick shakes were not available in India, and this business model might find success.
After coming back to India, Rahul did in-depth market research for about six months. Initially, a majority of the landlords were against the idea of renting out their space to milkshake joints. They believed that milkshakes were merely thick juices and would not attract enough customers.
Rahul and his team struggled a lot with finding a place in Hyderabad but finally decided to start the first branch on the Bangalore highway. The outlet was a massive hit among customers. Within 3-4 months of starting the business, the brand received franchise requests. The first MoM branch in Hyderabad was a franchise outlet, and they currently have 50+ outlets in the city. Makers Of Milkshakes also has one store in Dubai, two in the USA, and has further plans to expand in North India too.
Coming to the brand’s name, Rahul thought of naming the brand as ‘icebreakers’ because they used a lot of icecreams and blends to make the shakes. They ultimately didn’t go with ‘icebreakers’ because of the negative connotations attached to the name.
“Mom’s love is the purest form of love and brings in positivity. We thought of naming the brand M-o-M but wondered about elaborating the abbreviation. This is where Makers Of Milkshakes came into existence.”
Before starting the first outlet, they received negative responses while researching the market potential for a shake business as shakes are apparently a part of almost every restaurant menu.
They even put the idea on hold for a while and instead took part in outdoor events and roadshows. Rahul mentions that the brand received a very positive response from customers. For six months, they participated in events and finally started the first outlet on a Bangalore highway.
Rahul did six months of market research in the UK, but it was quite different from the data he collected in India. Going by the study, he realized that if he created the shakes using imported products, its cost would go up to 300-400 INR.
To keep costs down, they based their menu on high-quality ingredients with good margins available in the Indian market. They customized the product and created a menu in such a way that it would be suitable for Indian tastes. Rahul was adamant about not compromising on the quality of ingredients despite selling shakes at an affordable price.
Source: Makers Of milkshakes
Strategies To Differentiate From The Other Competitors
“Customer reviews make a lot of difference in the F&B industry. Word of mouth marketing probably has the greatest impact on the success of a restaurant business”, says Rahul.
Rahul tells his staff and franchisee owners to interact with their customers and customize their shakes in whichever way they want. The USP of MoM is that the brand uses a neutral base of ice cream for all its shakes.
On this basis, whatever toppings or flavors customers ask for, the flavor gets elevated. This strategy has worked tremendously well for a large segment of customers.
For Makers of Milkshakes, customer relationships and customer satisfaction are of prime importance. On all the menu and shake covers, MoM has printed a customer service number that customers can use for making suggestions, sending complaints, or asking any queries.
Impact of Covid-19 and Strategies Adopted To Maneuver The Business
Before COVID-19, Rahul promoted his brand as a premium milkshake brand. As the business situation changed during the Corona crisis, they had to tweak the business model.
Customers were hesitant to order milkshakes either in-store or as doorstep deliveries. As the ice creams used in the shakes were manufactured in-house, the brand added a line of icecreams to the menu during this phase. They also started packaging them in a glass jar which came directly from the factories to the stores and were delivered straight to customers. This worked quite well with customers and the franchisees too.
Online platforms helped the brand in surviving the tough times. Before COVID, Makers Of Milkshakes generated 40 percent of business via delivery. Currently, 70% of the business is coming in via online platforms, and the rest from in-store sales.
Rahul concluded the session by sending out a positive message to restaurateurs about business prospects in 2021. He emphasized that his team had worked effortlessly during tough times and urges restaurant owners to respect and value their staff members. He also advises prudent financial planning and tweaking the business model to grow the bottom line.
“Plan your investments and business model in such a way that if any unprecedented problem comes your way, you can recover and thrive your business in advance.”
Watch the F&B Talks with Mr. Rahul Tirumalapragada, Founder, Makers Of Milkshakes