Restaurant Technology Helped Me Consolidate My First Mover’s Advantage: Sweta Shivani

Sweta Shivani,  a finance professional turned entrepreneur, had a vision of coming up with a trendy food item for the Bhubaneswar folks!  Sweta had always been a foodie and her culinary skills were undoubtedly magical. She started with the Waffle Bites in 2017, which serves freshly baked, delectable, convenient and 100% veg waffles. Waffle Bites have six stores in Bhubaneswar now.

In Conversation With Sweta Shivani of Waffle Bites

In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Sweta Shivani talks of her journey in the industry, the story behind Waffle Bites, operational challenges while running the business, and a lot more.

The Story Behind Waffle Bites

It all started with a casual chat when Shivani and her husband were talking about her culinary experiences and suddenly they came up with a plan of opening a waffle store. They started with Waffle Bites, a Belgian Cafe, offering dessert options beyond ice creams and pastries. Their aim is to redefine the customer experience by always providing high-quality products. Shivani mentions that waffle being a niche product needs to be updated every now and then. There can be many variations based on the type of waffle iron and recipe used. At Waffle Bites, they keep innovating the menu and bring new products every three months. Shivani makes it a point to visit different waffle stores around the city and draw inspiration from them. At Waffle Bites, they serve perfectly crisp waffles which are fluffy from inside and melt in your mouth easily! The most popular waffle at Waffle Bites is the Death By Chocolate Waffle.

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Operational Challenges In Running A Dessert Store

Patrons of all ages often enjoy a sweet feast at the end of a meal when dining out, a ritual that seals their experience.  From chain-based dessert stores to independent creameries, the number of dessert options is growing. The challenges are also increasing which must be solved in order to provide a high-quality product that is fit for today’s market conditions. 

According to Shivani, Waffle being a niche product requires educating the labor working at the cafe. Labor shortages are one of the biggest challenges facing restaurants globally. The quality of employees recruited has a direct impact on brand reputation, income, and overall labor expenses. It also has an immediate impact on brand reputation, revenue, and overall labor costs. 

“Simply lowering standards is not an acceptable solution for restaurateurs. It’s fundamental to reach a larger volume of talent in order to pick and select the best options. We overhire labor in order to overcome the challenge of labor shortage and train them about the product, in turn, they educate the customers,” says Shivani. 

Bhubaneswar has a lively cultural heritage which is evident in their devotion to dance, movies, sculpting, and craftwork. Bhubaneswar does not have a nightlife as such. Shivani mentions that this is an obstacle for them. Desserts are usually desired after dinner, post 11 pm.   

“Due to the lack of an active nightlife and since we are not allowed to operate till late at night, we lose our major sales which happen between 11 pm to 2 am for the dessert market,” says Shivani.

Dessert Market in Bhubaneswar

The stunning architecture, history, dialects, vibrant art music, and dance forms make Bhubaneswar a culturally rich state of India. Life is uncomplicated, laid back and it doesn’t take much to find some peace and quiet here. 

Odia lifestyle is very diverse from other Indian states and it is displayed in the dishes available here. Apart from the main course delights, Odisha is also popular for its mouth-watering sweets. Some of them are Chhena Poda, Chhena Gaja, and Rasabali. 

Shivani says that people from Bhubaneswar have a sweet tooth. There are multiple similarities between the Bengali and Odia cuisines. But the fact that Rasogolla actually originated in Odisha will wow you! 

“We were the first ones to come up with waffles in Bhubaneswar. People usually like sweet items here and so any type of dessert is accepted here,” says Shivani.  

Being the pioneers of waffles in the Bhubaneswar market, Shivani enjoys the first-mover advantage. It has allowed them to establish strong brand recognition and product loyalty before other entrants. It also helped them to spread across the city at different locations faster!

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Role Of Technology In The Operations

Restaurants have been constantly battling one thing or another- food and labor expenses, turnover, changing customer preferences, etc. But with the assistance of advanced technology, restaurants can now make quick decisions that will strengthen their business model. 

One of the most valuable tools for contemporary restaurant owners is an effective Point Of Sale system. This convenient technology allows restaurant owners to avoid extensive paperwork. All-in-one systems are deemed the best alternative for today’s restaurant owners. They blend all the basic hardware and software required to assist customers and generate accurate business reports. Having a functioning POS system means better performance and customer experience. It prevents confusion amongst workers and deficits in supplies. Without an appropriate POS system, a restaurant is likely to fall behind the competition. Waffle Bites has been using POSist at their outlets. 

“With POSist, I can think of expanding, it helps me track every department in my outlet. I get live reports where I can track hourly sales and peak hours of my cafe. The KOT generated data assists in controlling fraudulent activities and keeping a check if a bill gets void. POSist has a very smooth interface and it has helped to cut down the manual labor by a huge percentage,” says Shivani

Shivani concludes by saying that her goal at the end of the day is to ensure that the customer is satisfied.  If the customers are satisfied, it will increase the restaurant’s profit automatically. She gives utmost importance to customer feedback and works on it diligently. Shivani plans to open two more outlets in Bhubaneswar in the near future!

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