Surviving the hunger game, efficiently - The New Indian Express

Surviving the hunger game, efficiently

Published: 25th August 2013 12:00 AM

Last Updated: 23rd August 2013 11:20 AM

There is something to be said about certain cuisines and how they have a way of weaving themselves into the socio-cultural fabric of wherever they choose to immigrate, or are wilfully imported.

In the business of restaurants and cafes, the second easiest thing is opening an outlet. The easiest of course is shutting it down, be it wilful or an unwilling but sound business decision. Either ways, the toughest thing ever about the restaurant business is sustenance and survival, not just in the face of competition but in spite of one’s own unforced errors. Here are a few things that guarantee success in this fast-paced industry.

Consistency: From Barista to Starbucks, the one thing they have managed to ensure is a consistently acceptable product. Sure there is better to be had, but for the price and time engagement, these places are unmatched. Little surprise that both are enjoying their own brand of success in this country.

Efficiency: Domino’s is a great success story, one that they are possibly yet to replicate elsewhere. They have managed to, pun intended, dominate the home delivery business with just one basic product. (Their new additions are mostly horrendous greasy after-thoughts.) But their success is no secret. It involves no complex economic principles at play, no juxtaposition of intricate market dynamics, just a simple promise made and subsequently, kept. An arduous amount of effort may have gone into setting up their team that delivers the same two things that made Indigo airlines such a success: efficient timely arrivals and a consistent record at doing it. I may not rate their pizzas very highly but there are far worse to be had (did someone mention Pizza Hut?) but it is their unmatched performance in making sure it gets to me well in time that has me coming back for more.

Adaptability: KFC, a chain that bit the dust the first time around, has managed to healthy run the second time around. Maybe the market evolved, people travelled more and understood the joys of fried chicken, or just maybe, they introduced new dishes more suited to the local eating habits and palates. By putting their best indigenous foot forward they found a way into the heart of the Indian family diaspora that was always on the lookout for a quick value-for-money meal in a clean bright environment. Their additions–from the burgers to the drinks–have all been well thought out and aptly introduced. Quality is standardised and, once you can get over the fact that you are pretty much eating something that isn’t as healthy as it looks, it’s pretty yummy too!

Innovation: McDonald’s always does a little of the local thing when they open in a country/city and incorporate the autochthon flavours between their sesame-topped buns and it is a good way to earn some goodwill. Their range of spicy burgers (too fiery for me personally) were well received and their decision to have a non-red meat Maharaja Mac, no matter how lamentable I may think it, went down well in this chicken-crazed country.

And then comes the other side of the coin. My recent experiences at Dunkin’ Donuts, both in-shop and via delivery, left a sorry taste in my mouth. From slackness of service to shoddy bites, they ticked all the wrong boxes. Of all the factors mentioned above, they seem to be addressing none. The “…& More” which was added possibly to salvage their primary product which couldn’t even compete with the locally-made doughnuts, and these new alimentary additions, judging from the tasteless yet incomprehensibly hot stuff that I sampled, will only worsen their situation.

Fast food is fast business. If a chain, no matter how established internationally doesn’t incorporate a sense of consistency, efficiency, and adaptability in a new market, they might as well start touching up their CVs.

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