The second session at POSist Mixer 2020 was a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Ashist Tulsian, founder of POSist Technologies. The group of panelists included 3 esteemed guests that shared their thoughts on the current COVID-19 situation and how restaurants can be better prepared to make a comeback.
The first panelist was Ms. Ramya Ravi, Director of Nandhana Group. Ramya oversees the operations of Nandhana restaurants and has been actively involved in building the customer experience for the group. Under her leadership, Nanadhana has had the honor of winning the India Hospitality Award for two consecutive years, 2015 & 2016.
The second panelist of the session was Mr. Pravesh Pandey, Chief Belief Officer, BYG Brewski. Pravesh has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality space. He was also an early advocate for upskilling India’s blue-collar workspace. He and his team recently created an app-based course for the hospitality business, ‘COVID Free Restaurant’, which has been endorsed by the NRAI.
The third member of the panel discussion was Mr. Biraja Rout, founder of QSR chain, Biggies Burger. Biggies Burger was started in 2011, and as of 2020, the brand has a presence in 12 states with over 32+ outlets. The reason for Biggies Burger’s quick success has been Biraja’s product-centric approach and his philosophy of ‘whatever happens, the taste should never go for a toss’. Interestingly, Biggies Burger spends only 1% of its revenue on marketing.
Key Learnings From The Pandemic
All three panelists agreed that a good thing that came out of this pandemic was the learnings it brought along for the restaurant business. Something that would have probably been learned in a decade was compressed into a few months, it was said. According to Mr. Ashish Tulsian, founder & CEO, POSist Technologies, the restaurant brands that always invested in building customer loyalty and brewing trust have done consistently well in this crisis. “As the same consumer base has now moved on to online delivery, restaurant chains have now regained almost 90% of their pre-COVID revenue”, he added.
“Where we stand right now is very positive in terms of the last few months. We almost hit the pre-COVID numbers in terms of our food delivery, and that was very encouraging and motivating for us”- Ms. Ramya Ravi, Director, Nandhana Group.
Talking about the significance of restaurant technology and automation in the restaurant space today, the speakers said that although the technology was not considered as a priority earlier, it has become the need of the hour. The focus should be on the dynamic change in consumer preferences and finding ways to quickly respond to it as a business.
Importance of Customers In Keeping The Brand Alive
“Customers that have been coming to you will definitely come back. What is essential now is what you are doing to regain their trust as the expectations have changed now,” says Mr. Pravesh Pandey.
What restaurants should ideally be doing to bring customers back is to accentuate what they have been doing well and focus more on providing better value and care to them.
The pandemic has changed the whole sequence of service, which now demands a lot of brainstorming and training along with high inputs in terms of technology as that has become very instrumental. Mr. Pandey believes that safety and care can be ensured by minimizing the number of places a consumer touches in the restaurant and contactless dining is one of the most reassuring measures that restaurants can adopt.
Ms. Ramya Ravi shared her learning experiences and said that one of the main priorities today in the restaurant space should be to focus on regaining the customer’s trust and win back loyal customers.
Thinking Out Of The Box Is The Key To Sustain
Mr. Biraja Rout, founder of Biggies Burger mentioned that 80% of their revenue came from dining-in and delivery was never their primary focus. However, when dining was shut down completely, the same customers started placing online orders for their products. To make this possible, the brand had to re-engineer its products and implement some necessary changes. An excellent piece of advice by the panelists is to establish a solid business model and innovate constantly.
Handling The Staff Shortage Issue In the Pandemic
Staff shortage has posed a severe challenge for the restaurant industry in the pandemic. To curb this situation, the Nandhana Group adopted employee retention strategies such as being in constant touch with all the employees, team building activities, etc. which gave them confidence and trust that they were going to be called back to work after the restaurant reopened. Ms. Ravi said that with this approach it was much easier to bring the staff back on the team.
While Mr. Pravesh Pandey has been trying to get flight tickets for his staff and create a database with a Whatsapp Bot to help them come back to the restaurant, Mr. Biraja Rout’s approach has been to invest in automation and setting up SOPs. With automation and setting SOPs, Biggie Burger has not only been able to manage its processed raw material efficiently, but the brand has also been able to retain most of its employees.
Hope you found the panel discussion as enlightening and insightful as we did! Keep watching this space for detailed coverage of the POSist Mixer, South India Chapter 1.0 event.