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Case Analysis: Focus On Fresh

Startups always hire fewer staff or staff that is not qualified as they want to keep their salaries low

Photo Credit : Umesh Goswami


The food and beverage business is booming like never before and is more competitive than ever before. To succeed you have to ensure that each and every parameter of this business is looked into in great detail. “I am sorry, sir,” are perhaps the three most commonly used words when a customer voices a complaint. Why should we even come to this stage where we have to apologise for mistakes made by us? Customers today have a wide variety of options. They will not hesitate to inform the management about their shortcomings.

As we see from this case, Sanjeev and his friends ordered food from a new delivery startup Just Order (JO). They promised to deliver high quality food within a stipulated period of time. Did they even think about the processes they needed to go through before making such a commitment? Clearly we see that JO was headed for failure since they had not looked into any of these systems. The issues with Sanjeev’s bread or with Mini’s salad were because there were no quality assurance systems in place. We need to ensure that no substandard raw materials come into the kitchen. The chef/owners need to design their recipes with products that are easily available and, that too, from multiple suppliers. When the product comes in, it should be clearly labelled and dated so that whoever is in charge of issuing the product to the kitchen uses the first-in-first-out system. When the product is received by the chef, he/she should check that it is fresh. Ordering should not be too much or too little.  Ordering smaller batches, multiple times a week helps keep the product fresh. The chef and his team need to focus on cooking good food. If they are assigned multiple jobs, the final product will always suffer.

Startups always hire fewer staff or staff that is not qualified as they want to keep their salaries low. This does not work. Rather start small with a limited number of menu items that can be cooked well rather than having a large number of items which cannot be managed. Key positions such as a chef, inventory manager, delivery coordinator and order taker should be in place. The owners must hire employees who share the same vision as them. Time and money should be invested in training these people thoroughly so that they feel empowered to run the business. Every single order should be checked by the person responsible.

Starting small and then growing is the way to grow. The locality should be chosen after a thorough study. We should only think of expanding the area of delivery after we feel that all our customers are satisfied and happy. Choosing the correct packaging material is another factor that needs to be looked into. Choose the materials that suit your product, without trying to save money.

There should be constant communication between the owner and the heads of department. Every morning, the team should meet and discuss issues relating to orders sent the previous day and also plan for the deliveries of the day. Lack of communication would lead to the business suffering. Problems will surely occur but we need to see that they are never repeated. Sometimes giving offers to the customers helps increase the business but not if the quality of food is not up to standard. Startups usually cannot afford a dedicated HR head. But the owners must constantly motivate the employees. Kabir, the operation head of JO, was keen to understand what went wrong and satisfy Sanjeev with a valid answer but was not able to do so as he was focusing on growing the company. When Kaizad, the promoter met Sanjeev, he was stumped by Sanjeev’s points because he knew they had not been handled by Kabir and Jai.

If the team which started JO had looked into these points, then Sanjeev would not have been served stale bread. Mini would have got a salad that looked the same as described on the menu. They would have been able to fulfill the commitments that they had made. Passion is not enough to run any business, more so in the food industry. Regardless of the size of the venture, the principles of running the business are the same. “Quality is the best business plan,” a quote by Pixar’s John Lasseter, is something we should remember each day.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Ranbir Batra

The writer has been in the business of hospitality almost all his life. A third-generation restaurateur, he joined culinary school and graduated from Kendall College, Chicago

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