Like Vincent told us, you could get lucky and succeed in a foreign land without much planning but going by his experience; even those who have done considerable leg work can still fail. Give yourself 8 months to 1 year. He shared that even a brand with an established SOP and franchising module took 8 months before it opened its doors to public; what more for a new brand? What do you do with that timeframe?
It is best to hire a research company because they know what to ask. Not merely ‘like it or not?’ questions but specifics like tastes, flavour and texture. Asking the wrong questions simply means getting the wrong answers and skewed information to work on your food. Remember to allocate a budget to set up an off-site kitchen that duplicates the existing kitchen and prepare the menu with the exact ingredients. The results should give you an indication if the said community is open to such experiences. For example, Malaysians frequent mid-range cafes for boiled eggs with toast bread and coffee during breakfast. An easy-toreplicate model, it should work in neighbouring countries like Thailand but you don’t see one. It’s simple - Thais are not familiar with such food.
OBSERVE LOCATION’S TRAFFIC
You have to park yourself there for 2-3 months and observe the traffic of your proposed area. Shopping malls can say foot traffic of 10, 000 people a day but how many are in your shop? If you insist on being there, make sure your concept fits into the mall’s identity and clientele. Or you might notice a shop along the lot you selected is always bursting so you think of gaining awareness by being next to it. But, do you want to be a ‘second option’ when people can’t wait? You want to create intent within diners to visit alongside accessibility.
ACES IN PLACES
Gather local professionals who are familiar with the locations, country’s business rules and regulations, licensing, tenancy, special benefits and who understand customers’ mindset and expectations. If you bring your existing team over; it will likely tax you out in terms of living costs, extra time to learn the ropes or lacking the right connections and even issues adapting to a different work culture.
WORK THE SOP (STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE)
Everything can be duplicated. Even for items that we believe to require a chef’s skill such as stir-frying with a wok in a Chinese kitchen can have similar results with proper SOP and training. Document ever y step; down to the minute when the cook should add an ingredient. Undoubtedly tedious but nobody plans to fail but they fail to plan.Before closing, Vincent reminds us on the importance of knowing who you work with, be it partners or project team. Document everything, get to the bottom of every transaction flow and understand ever y step for yourself. Too often someone gets taken for a ride and to this, we’d like to say, be a sleeping partner who is awake!
Heartiest appreciation to Mr. Vincent Soonof F&B Facilities Sdn. Bhd.for his time of sharing his knowledge and experience.