A management graduate turned entrepreneur, Miti Jain is the co-founder of Toro Churro, the franchise of New Zealand based Churro brand that offers the sweet and savory dessert, Churros. Having a keen interest in the food business, and also a foodie at heart, Miti, along with her sister Somi, thought to bring the popular dish to Mumbai, that also brought out their entrepreneurial spirit in making the Mumbaikers fall in love with Churros.
In Conversation With Miti Of Toro Churro
In an exclusive interview with the Restaurant Times, Miti Jain talks about the challenges of running a dessert parlor, delivering excellent customer experience, staying ahead of the competition and a lot more.
Major Challenges Faced While Running A Dessert Parlour
The restaurant industry is fraught with a number of both external as well as internal challenges that plagues the business, and especially the small players.
Obtaining licenses and permits is one of the most common challenges of starting a food business. The site needs to be compliant with all the safety measures and one should have all the licenses ready before opening shop. Jain also faced this challenge and had a lot of trouble in getting the NOC from the Fire Department, despite not using gas.
In Mumbai, specifically, restaurants are not allowed to stay open till late, which eats up the profits. For dessert parlors, especially, this is a major challenge since people prefer to have desserts after dinner or late at night.
Staff management is another very common challenge prevalent in the restaurant business. Attrition is extremely high in this industry, especially at the junior level. For most parts, the restaurant business is still unorganized. Employees often take leaves without prior information and switch jobs easily, which adds to the overall labor costs.
‘There is no formal structure followed by the staff members, I have to overhire and keep extra staff members in advance in case of an unforeseen situation,’ says Jain.
Another major issue addressed by Jain, which she feels is faced by majority owners in this industry, is the problem of online delivery. Online delivery portals undoubtedly help to boost the sales, but because of too many offers and discounts offered by these portals, the margins left at the end of the day with small businesses is meager. In some cases, the cafe owners dont even get their rightful share of the money.
Delivering A Great Customer Experience
For a dessert parlor, the product is primarily what makes the customer experience memorable. And the experience needs to be consistent every day in order to generate customer loyalty and achieve long term success.
In the case of Toro Churro, Jain already had the recipe to success since she has the Master Franchise of an established brand and a well-loved product. The equipment and the premix come from the parent company which results in a high-quality product. Standard recipes, SOPs, and well-trained staff ensure that each menu item is prepared just right.
Additionally, Jain employed her expertise to localize the menu to suit the Indian market which attracts the customers better and satiates their cravings as well.
How To Market A Dessert Parlor
Twenty years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine a marketing medium that could surpass television in terms of influence and reach. Small businesses with limited budget had to rely on distributing pamphlets and word of mouth to reach out to customers. Today, with stiff competition, especially in the desserts segment, marketing needs to be more evolved and personalized to cater to right audience base.
According to Jain, giving lucrative offers on specific occasions helps them market their products better. Leveraging occasions such as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day and coming up with unique combos and offers and then marketing them through social media helps in bringing in more customers, and also creates a certain connection with them.
Food bloggers and social media influencers have emerged as another major marketing medium for restaurants. However, engaging with food bloggers and then employing social media to promote the business is a task that needs proper attention. It is always advisable to seek professional help to manage your marketing efforts, and that’s what Jain did.
‘We have signed up with a marketing agency which helps us in doing online promotion, through our Instagram and Facebook page. We invite bloggers to dine at our outlets and then share genuine feedback,’ says Jain.
This not only helps Jain reach out to potential customers but also gives her the insights into what people are liking and what they are not about the food. Ultimately, these tastings help Jain improve the service and provide a better guest experience.
Dealing With Competition
The restaurant industry is fiercely competitive and operates on notoriously tight margins. The success or failure can hinge on your ability to develop competitive advantages and offer your customers something they cannot get from your competitors.
Jain had a competitive advantage with Torro Churro since Churros have originated from Spain.
It is a relatively new product in the Indian market and there are not many outlets for Churros in India right now. Indians always want to experiment with something new, especially the Mumbai population.‘This serves as an advantage for us, for being a newcomer and bringing this new type of dessert in India,’ says Jain.
However, with so many options around, even a unique product needs innovation. Jain keeps on innovating the menu according to the consumer trends. Every three months there is something new on the menu, which they promote with the help of social media. ‘It helps in attracting and retaining the customers,’ she adds.
‘We were the first ones in India to bring Savoury Churros and now others have started imitating us,’ says Jain.
Secret Sauce Behind Torro Churro’s Success
Some of the important things in running a restaurant business have not changed over the years. People want quality food at a good value, served with great service in an appealing environment. And all of these can only be achieved when you are fully dedicated to your goal.
According to Jain, passion, determination, and commitment will always be the main ingredients for running any restaurant business. When you have passion, you keep on innovating and developing. When you are determined, the focus is on the business. And when you are committed, quality and efficiency are maintained. All three aspects are crucial and they work together to build a successful business.