Mehul Pittie along with his two partners started HumTea DumTea in Mumbai. He did his MBA in Finance and has also worked as an Analyst in E&Y.
Pittie wanted to sell a product that required minimum selling in the market, that is how he came up with the idea of selling ‘Chai’. It is a product which sells by itself. For the product that has been recognized globally, it is gaining popularity rapidly. Not only thanks to its legendary importance but also from a new wave from high-income customers are turning tea as a popular product. Nowadays, customers are ready to spend around two hundred rupees on tea.
According to Pittie, regular chaiwallahs lack hygiene and service. HumTea DumTea serves an affordable range of tea starting at Rs.90 which serves three to four people. Mehul calls HumTea DumTea, ‘the new age tapri’.
In Conversation With Mehul Pittie of HumTea DumTea
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Mehul Pittie talks of his journey in the industry, the story behind HumTea DumTea, dealing with competition, marketing strategy and a lot more.
Importance Of Location
Choosing a location for your restaurant is one of just a few keys to profitability. A restaurant’s location influences many aspects of your operation, including the menu and style of the dining room. If you already have a certain restaurant location in mind, don’t get too attached until you know if it has all the right requirements for a successful restaurant.
According to Pittie, the two factors which are important for choosing a location are:
Firstly, Population Base, a place that has a high footfall helps in automatic branding and attracts customers. There need to be enough people who live in or pass through the area regularly to keep your restaurant busy.
Secondly, rental prices should be kept in check, the math should be done properly so that you do not overspend on rent. If you’re renting the space for a restaurant, you should be mindful of the lease agreement.
Running a restaurant is hard work. Between staffing problems, food safety concerns and keeping customers happy, there are always new challenges in this ever-changing business landscape.
According to Pittie, finding the right staff is a challenge. It is crucial for a manager to hire staff who can deal with all types of customers. Employees who are lazy, make mistakes on a regular basis and are not skilled enough contribute a great deal to a failed service. It is essential to have a strong team that is well trained to deliver a great customer experience. Next, you need to motivate them and provide them great working conditions to retain them.
‘We give our staff service-oriented salaries to motivate them. We follow an open communication system where our employees do not hesitate in communicating with us even their minute problems,’ says Pittie.
Another operational challenge is attracting the right target audience, especially through social media.
“The attention span of a consumer is really less. Social media is bombarded with so many things that to catch the attention of the target audience is a really tough task,” says Pittie.
Strategy For Optimum Utilisation Of Resources
Considering the fierce competition and about 60% failure rate of the restaurant business, it is vital that you get your marketing strategy not just right but top-notch. According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme, the food sector produces 4,00,000 tonnes of avoidable food waste each year. Pittie tells that nine out of ten people do not like machine chai.
‘Our target audience are the corporates. Coming for a cup of tea is more of a tradition than a need,’ says Pittie.
Wastage is one of the leading causes of increased food costs and declining revenue, which leads to the eventual shutting down of restaurants. Smart food waste management involves proper planning and efficient inventory management, which can help you cut down your food wastage marginally.
Pittie follows the subscription strategy where the tea is delivered at the customer’s doorstep.
Usually, the office crowd subscribes to them for the chai because they are more hygienic and it is delivered at their office. It increases their efficiency because they know the exact number of cups to be made and it helps in optimum utilization of their resources.
Dealing With Competition
Competition is vital in any industry. Every restaurant faces intense competition. Restaurant owners need to constantly find new ways to raise the bar and exceed customers’ expectations.
Being a well-loved product served at an affordable price, it acts as a competitive advantage for Pittie. The tea served at HumTea DumTea is hygienic which the local tapirs lack and also delivered directly to offices.
‘A consumer might have a particular kind of snack today and tomorrow something else but tea is something they will come back to every day,’ says Pittie.
A restaurant business, like any other business, should make a profit for it to survive. The owner should also be counted in the profit since they need to earn money from the business if it is ultimately going to be worth keeping open.
Pittie feels that the pricing should be kept affordable and not fancy. It helps in attracting more people and making them familiar with your product.
Secret Sauce To Success
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 Pittie, ‘If something is not working in your business model, try to analyze what is lacking and keep innovating that area.’
It is necessary to pivot at a faster rate so that you are not left behind in the process and are ahead of others.