It’s the classic story of supply meets demand. On the one hand, Domino’s was losing its grip and brand recall among Pakistani consumers. And on the other, Pizza Hut’s GM of Operations, Ahsan Ahmed, wanted to be the Jack Welch of retail industry.
In May 2012, he signed a 3 year deal and joined Domino’s as its CEO in Pakistan with the goal for helping the company achieve its first ever month of positive P&L in 9 years. Not only did he manage that, but also 70% growth over the previous year. The question is how.
What did this experience teach you?
Domino’s grew because talented people got together. I just stumbled to their presence.
What was wrong at the point you took over?
International brands use our people, facilities, ingredients, our brains – yet sell under their own brand – leaving a fraction of the income and take another fraction back. Domino’s was struggling for 9 years – no one knew who was running the company or growing it. We can easily create good concepts, have a lot of creative people that can create kick ass brands.
How do you identify talent with leadership potential?
Anyone who has to make a decision is a leader. At times, the rider is a leader. You reached the customers house and showed them the order and you realize the order is damaged. Rider has to make a call and say “Please have this and I will get you another one.”
But people don’t do this because brands are wary of employee theft.
Are you happy when the competition steals the customer? When you don’t change the product, you will lose the customer. If you haven’t put in a monitoring setup that prevents people from stealing, its the HQ’s fault. People in the head office don’t know what happens in the field. They have never filled the forms.
So how many riders are now at HQ, calling the shots?
A lot of decisions are being made by operators. They are strategic and tactical. Not 100%, but certainly a higher % than our competitors. Our goal is to fill every department with an operator. Food companies think that riders are replaceable. But the customer interacts with this so called lowest denominators.
Can local brand achieve similar success?
There is money to be made. I better be ready to take it. In Pakistan people eat out or order in at max 3 times a week. In Dubai, its at max 6 times a week. When Pakistan transitions to this, the market will explode. You better have that inverted triangle.
What sets a good operator apart from the rest?
I want a group of people who have handled (and retained) irate customers. Brands mistakenly send their weakest team member to handle irate customers when in fact the strongest must go and create a long lasting bond. Every complaint is a gift, its a great chance to connect with people.
How do you operate?
We introduced a system wherein hiring focused on operators with successful backgrounds. We taught them time and people management. We created a decision making unit. Its the group that runs business for Domino’s. They set the goals to chase. We hand them projects and P&L management. They make their own budgets and gain approvals by BCM (Budget Control Members) and me. Its made in the 3rd week of the month to prepare and execute.
Why the third week?
It leaves ample time for planning. In the fourth week, they need to translate this into KPI which is linked to the budget. In the first week of the month, you need to sit and review your people side – how strong is your bench? Are you covered for the growth that is anticipated? Also see customer complaints, who has to be trained, hired or fired. Only then will people side be strong.
In the second week, we sit and review the marketing plan. If things are working, what is working? This is where we decide what stays and what is removed. Then comes to process of budgeting for the next month. Its an easy four step approach for meeting financial goals.
Why not quarterly like the MNC’s do it?
The mantra of the food business is ‘expect the unexpected.’ If you set financial goals every quarter. you only get 90 days to reach it. With our monthly approach, you are giving 12 chances. If you can improve the planning process and make it simple. Our growth is 45-50% growth, index to last year, most of which is thanks to the teams own planning.
Doesn’t that set up the team for feeling overwhelmed with the targets?
You have to make sure you’re setting the right kinds of targets. Then break it down – baby steps – into small achievable steps. People wait for exit interviews to ask people why they’re leaving. People miss the budget because its the case of wishful thinking.
Why did you close the North Nazimabad outlet?
There is no way to predict problem child’s. What works today may not work tomorrow. Irrespective of whose brain child it was, if it hurts the P&L, you must shut the facility. We’re looking at a third facility for DHA, ideally in Phase 2 extension. In order to service Karachites in 30 minutes of less, you need 70 locations.
Is this turnaround an outlier?
Turnarounds are possible in Pakistan. Because we have a fantastic bunch of human resource. Anyone who says otherwise should look in the mirror. Domino’s was able to make a come-back because the customers were very forgiving. The key is that you fill the HQ with operators. And give them a simple mechanism to do their jobs. It Alhamdulillah worked in our case. If it can turnaround for Domino’s, then it can for anyone.
What would you like the future applicants of the QSR industry to know?
My boss from Pizza Hut used to say that every problem has two legs. I have learnt that every success has two legs too. The problem is that we find the problem legs and shoot them, and forget to recognize the legs doing a good job. I hire people for their body language. You can teach them QSR and customer service, you cannot teach body language. I’m going to hire people on their ability to handle politics. QSR industry aspirants should
- Have the decency to inform the customer if an order will be late.
- Remember that somewhere in the system, a boss does not care how you get the job done, but wants it done.
- Finding a coping mechanism to help them take stress positively.
Why do you think most people shy away from QSR?
High stakes players in the country are coming in for some economic interest. Making money legally is the easiest thing to do. If you are making a lot of money and someone’s wants a cut in an illegal manner, you can find a way to be proactive and find a way of co-existing.
You and I can’t change Pakistan overnight, but in the mean time, we have to be practical people. When a food authority seals a premises, its because impractical and idealistic people have rubbed them the wrong way. Look at the other side. Batha earnings are far less than what QSR’s steal in evading taxes. So when you don’t ethically feed the regulators, they will eventually strike back. Business owners are bigger thieves for tax non payment. They think of this as the chicken and egg problem. Fix the paradox, you have the brains and resources to ensure accountability and make public those that steal.
What’s your key advice for QSR industry CEO’s?
Don’t manage people, lead them. Managing people makes them unhappy. Unhappy people get your store closed.
When I think about board member’s day to day life and board meeting’s average content, I know it’s full of big decisions. What is our growth strategy? Are we willing to invest millions of euros/dollars in technology in order to enable customer relationship strategy and automation? How can we reduce our churn? How can we lower over all costs and increase productivity? Thinking big is important, but I’ve come to conclusion that thinking big also makes board members blind to potential that is at their reach with minimal investments.
I’ve been working on direct marketing, sales development, customer journey analytics and customer experience- and customer interface design since 2004 and learned that the potential is amazing. Realizing the potential often only cost pennies, but requires new point of view and strong experience. So what is this really? It’s BEHAVIOURAL ECONOMICS. Using BE in order to rapidly create major changes has to do with Choice Architecture and Nudges, leveraging behavioural patterns. It’s very much like Service Designing, but doesn’t necessarily require total make over, just adjustments. I decided that I collect and publish some of the actual outcomes that I’ve discovered with my clients so that there is tangible proof of what I am talking about. These cases are anonymous and from multiple market areas including both B2B and B2C cases:
Conversion: Sales increased by 240% by only re-designing the way the product was introduced and how customers actually were steered to made the purchase. Investment level 5000€ – sales value in millions
Sales: Changing messaging order and starting marketing by allowing own members to buy first, before others. Creation of momentums inside the campaign. Sales index was 200% in a first year and 260% in second year compared to the original target budget. Investment level – no change. Double profitability impact: higher margins and stronger sales. The sales impact was + 20 millions.
Churn reduction: By changing the way how the company did invoicing, the company’s churn reduction was almost 1/3. Investment level in thousands – savings/improved loyalty > 1 million
Customer service cost reduction: Changing the way invoicing was done, we were able to cut contact center calls to half and allocate that free capacity to proactive contacting of customers who had given critical net promoter scores. Multiple impacts: NPS increase, higher loyalty, higher ARPU, lower cost to serve. Customer feedback also gave insights to overall service and product development. Investment level in thousands – impact in hundreds of thousands
SEO/SEM improvement: Cost of acquisition is often a critical profitability factor. In one case I analysed company’s current reach of SEO and SEM and came to conclusion that 1) Their all key words were targeting the last moments of decision making = most expensive 2) They completely missed the contexts that made their service interesting and valuable = high reach, low cost. Also, they renewed their website, which cut their lead generation to half. The solution: conversion fixes on website with minimal cost, new approach to SEO/SEM. Investment – re-allocated current marketing budget, projected impact more than 200% sales increase
Proactive service messaging: Sending customers service messaging with automation multiply their frequency to use service, increase spending and reduce churn. Investment apr. 100K, sales increase impact in millions.
What board members should consider:
We already have technologies and on-going spending – can we improve their impact
We already have thousands/hundreds of thousands/millions visiting our customer interfaces. Can we improve conversion to sales?
What is our level of contact center costs? How many contacts is there? What is causing those contacts? Can we do something about it?
What is our churn level (leaving customers)? What does that mean in euros/dollars? Can we do something about it?
We have tons of data. Have we really understood the value buried in it? How can we transform data into money (operational improvement with current offering – potential for new businesses and offerings)
One case I am currently working which is special for one major reason, its public, is Kela (Finnish pension insurance company). KELA is government managed and doesn’t have competitors, which means that I can talk about the case without breaking any NDA’s. Due to a legislation change, Kela is going to take over a new service area in the beginning of 2017 that currently employs 600 working years in employee resources. I have a privilege to analyze how customers are currently using Kela services, how and why they use office- and call center services. Based on this data I am looking for ways to increase self service level and decrease cost of servicing. The goal is, that by changing the customer interfaces and service processes we can decrease the service need so much, that Kela DON’T need to hire 600 more people to fulfill the new responsibilities. Since I started analyzing data, interviewing customers and customer service people, we have already found improvement points that allow Kela to cut hundreds of thousands and eventually millions of calls or manual applications. Very little user interface element changes alone can reduce costs by 1,5 million euros in one single service segment. These findings are now in process to be realized with lean UX workshopping.
There’s one specific finding that I just have to point out. In every application context Kela gives an average decision making time. The idea to give an average time is natural and intuitively right way to approach the customer need. However, there is a problem. Giving an average time for decision will create expectations. Giving an average time actually means that HALF of the applicants feel they get below average service, get worried and call. The number of such calls is +200K in total. What can we do? We can change expectations by changing ONE LINE across all services.
“The decision making typically takes AT LEAST xx time”
The change of this one line has very meaningful benefits:
half of the customers feel that their service EXCEEDED expectations
The other half is more patient
The projected saving for this very simple change is at the level of +1 million euros. The cost to make that change is 0€. When scaling all improvements together the savings will be calculated in multiple millions.
What is that KELA case really about? It’s about recognizing why people get worried, feel anxiety, what they don’t understand and how can we improve their feeling of confidence that things are going well. In practice we improve customer experience. In a commercial context this means higher NPS, stronger customer relationships, higher demand, higher conversion rates, lower cost of acquisition… the list is endless and it’s full of direct profit impacting factors.
What I suggest for your next board meeting is, that you take the board consideration list above and put it on your agenda. Then honestly consider if there is room for improvement. My experience is, that there always is. Then contact a person who has real experience about recognizing improvement points, analyzing the data for potential and capacity to create insights and design changes that make millions in ROI.
This is what I do.
Here is a short introduction to my offering and how does it impact company’s customer centric transformation, management, culture, infrastructure and processes: Behavioural Economics offering
Let me know if you want your company to take a leap to a whole new level of productivity. Let’s have a chat and see if we both get excited :)
+358 50 55 222 76
If housing bubble’s have taught us anything, its that real estate has a direct impact not only on home valuations, but also on a nation’s mortgage markets, home builders, real estate, home supply retail outlets and foreign banks.
According to The State Bank’s Quarterly Housing Finance Review, Pakistan’s “housing units’ shortage can be estimated more than 9 million units” in a nation where property prices average USD 480,000 and buyers have weighed down by a GDP per capita that barely brushes the USD 2,000 line.
Local and international players have convened on Pakistan to solve this problem, the first of which was Zeeshan Khan and his brother in 2006 with their online property portal Zameen.com, a site that educates, informs and empowers nearly 1.3 million visitors every month. The brothers have dominated the property portal market place in Pakistan ever since.
Rocket Internet’s entered Pakistan in 2012 with eCommerce start-up funding for electronics, fashion and apparel verticals, and further invested a year later with Lamudi.pk, a property portal with strong brand recall, footing & trust in northern regions.
But Pakistani’s don’t just live in Pakistan.
Overseas citizens send around $10 billion back home each year and most of that money goes into real estate. Sadly, they are often misguided about property prices by real estate agents and at times by their own relatives. While Zameen.com and Lamudi.pk fill this need for locals, the nation needs a property evaluation and consultancy service to help the millions of Pakistanis abroad as well.
Enter Arazi.pk, a property portal (founded by business magnate Umair Sheikh) that aims to revolutionize the user experience for real estate customers in Pakistan. It’s the first (and so far the only) Pakistani startup to be recognized as a disruptive startup by WebSummit and was also selected for the upcoming RISE Conference.
Apart from having similar features and services to Lamudi.pk and Zameen.com, Arazi.pk is the first property portal to introduce virtual tours, panoramic views and floor plans. To ensure a much safer experience, advanced security features include the automated account verification system (activated via a short messaging service).
Property evaluation services for Pakistani diaspora can help settle family disputes that are often caused by misunderstandings rather than bad intentions. The only components of this missing is a a value assessment service for foreign embassies (immigration services) and commercial banks as well. Corporate customers of real estate demand access to a map showing the recent value assessments in a particular area, ensuring transparency and accuracy. Time will tell which new player will bring this to the fold, or whether existing players will add it on.
What did the crisis teach you?
Varies for most of us. It has taught me that we need practical wisdom. I engage daily with the world of financial models, KPIs, rules, performance management, deals and board reporting materials. The crisis has taught me we don’t need more rules, we need deeper discussions about the merits of doing the right thing. Because smart people will always figure a way around more rules.
Is there anything that we’re still doing that we should stop?
In completely nerd language, we need to stop adding an IF statement on top of an IF statement to get a model to “balance”. What we need are elegant solutions. The thing with elegant solutions is that they require us to internalize many guiding principles which aren’t necessarily found in the world of economics. By economics I mean the study of resource allocation popularized during the mid 1700’s post industrial revolution. It would be naive to think that more rules will get the job done. Just to drive this point further. In the 1970’s, wild fire fighters in California used 4 guiding principles. This was changed to 48 well defined rules by mid 1990’s. End result was more deaths and poorer performance.
What did the crisis boil down to in your opinion?
In my view, it was a crisis of information asymmetry that was consciously propagated by a few members in the real estate finance value chain. Today the same asymmetry exists around valuation of tech companies. They quote big headline valuation numbers. Which gets used by retail investors to justify pricing when such companies go public. But rarely people talk about the terms of a subscription agreement in private deals. Whether it’s what’s app getting 19 billion or slack getting 1 billion in valuation, no one is talking about the actual terms and protections built in. This asymmetry might hurt some people.
So we’re on the verge of a second dot com bubble?
I’m not saying that, just saying that the crisis has taught us that we need to kill information asymmetry. We must do it because capital allocation should not be the privilege of the few. By engaging more minds in the process of making capital allocation decisions I think we can make better choices and hence access some practical wisdom.
So what needs to be done today?
In the end I think people get pissed off when they feel misled or taken for granted. All financial crises misled someone and someone got hurt. I don’t think we’ve learned how not to do that. We haven’t because we are still thinking rules and regulation. We need to give guiding principles a chance. We need to give practical wisdom a chance. I think more money going into the world of big data will solve that issue though. So overall I’m optimistic.
After food forums exploded with chatter on their diverse breakfast menu, I reached out to Mohsin Ihsan and Danish Ishtiaq, the co-founders of Cosmopolitan , to learn about their quick success.
Of all the names, why Cosmopolitan?
It was a well thought of name. We witnessed a generation exposed to cultures all over the world, be it London, Tokyo, Paris etc. Cosmopolitan is a culture choice, commonly adapted by the fashion centric audiences. The name was suggested by Ahmed Ali Shah, CFO of L’Oreal.
So you’re from well off families. Why did you start the business?
Initially it was the economics. The demand was high of this concept. We haven’t had much entertainment in Karachi. All you can do is go out and eat. In the middle of the project there were major challenges. As of now, we can call it passion and true love. We started the concept in June 2013, with talks with Realtor. This business is people oriented.
What can you cook now?
I can make breakfast, eggs and all :)
Doesn’t that backfire?
It has once or twice, but our focus is always on professionalism. We have not compromised on anything in between.
If you could go back to the day you started, what would you do differently?
We always believe in developing the team. We would have done more training sessions for ourselves and the staff. We assumed the staff were versed in team building and its an avenue we would have worked. We would want this to be stable right now then slowly fix our work schedule. We’re balancing between this and our family businesses.
How is this unique?
We want to be the epitome of hospitality. It’s lacking in Pakistan. When we opened up there was just Xanders in this lane. The quality and variations go out the window when you’re hospitable. From back end to front end staff, they should have the guest on their mind.
How many guests do you serve per day?
We average 215 guests per day. Our model was 3 course meals. We started breakfast 3 weeks ago. We planned for breakfast for 30th August, fifteen days after launch. We realized that the market needed something unheard of. So we changed the concept of breakfast completely.
How did you market the business, and what was the logic behind the mediums utilized?
We capitalized on social media, primarily Twitter and Facebook. As three partners, we belong to different backgrounds on affluence, so that helped too. It was mostly digital. For the first 15 days of run, we invited people from various social settings, for a pilot test run and that created a positive buzz. We are currently purely digital and its the best medium.
From a brand strategy perspective, how do you think people feel when they hear the name of your business?
Honestly it was supposed to an upscale eatery, a sort of boutique rest. We want people to feel elevated when they come here. We want them to leave with the experience. We want customers to experience international cuisines, as if they are enjoying them abroad.
There are some food business that use non verbal cues to pressure customers to leave early. Why don’t you use them?
Sure, it hurts our top line, but we want people to experience comfort and ease. We belong to the same social setting that expects an extraordinary dining experience. If people are craving for such experiences, they can always go to BBQ players.
You may have seen the maids issue on KFD. What’s your take on it?
It’s very sad on both parts. Not just by the people dragging their maids along, but also by the eateries that stand by and do nothing. I think its the eateries job to at least ask the customers if they would like to order for the help.
What do you think food businesses can do to ensure traffic law obedience by delivery teams?
Honestly, the food business should but the impact will come to the customers. Then again 35,000 people on KFD bash you for a 20 minute delay.
What is that balance between penalizing for late and rewarding on time?
The right balance is the motivation and encouragement of the staff. We penalize the staff on punctuality. We make sure that if a guest complains about not being looked after. We do not tolerate the idea of a customer leaving unhappy.
What’s your top performing food item?
Breakfast as a whole and the all time favorite is the pamasan chicken since day one. Everyone has it and its normally fried with crumbs because its run of mill. We do it, how it should be – baked and topped with crumbs and pamasan cheese differently. We have greater portions.
A recent post of KFD alleged that food business owners should play a role in improving the area surrounding their outlets. What’s your take on this?
We fixed our road ourselves. The authorities that were supposed to do it were delaying it. We payed a private contractor to get it done. The general issue is the disposal of trash. When you go to the back, you’ll see the area cleared of waste. We have a contract with someone that ensures safe transit of the trash.
What do you think about businesses that opt for positioning under Shariah compliance?
Positioning for the heck of it is something anyone can do. If they follow through with it, then it matters. I think they are doing it just for conversions on that segment. This is Islam of convenience. Music are okay but movies are bad. It’s easy for us to play music but not to serve alcohol. We say no to 45-50 people only because of booze. We want to be focused on our core business.
What’s the most absurd reason someone has given your food a bad review?
Couple of months ago: a group of 35 ladies and their host wanted us to lie to 32 other households about what was and what was not on the menu. Our slogan is “House of Yes”. She threatened to write a negative review on KFD and SWOT if they didn’t comply with her demands.
Any plans for an eCommerce focus or loyalty system?
We’re currently considering a mobile app that allows for ease in transactions and serves as a reservation system.
What’s the growth plan for the next quarter?
Consistency. We would like to retain our guests and provide consistency. We now have ramps for the elderly customers, who are now frequent customers.
At the third Startup Weekend event held in Lahore, Sahr Said‘s idea was crowned the winner. Within a week, she secured an incubation with the LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship and has embarked on a mission to make it incredibly easy for every woman to be beautiful.
We reached out to her to learn about what the company will look like in a year, from the perspectives of product, people, team, revenue and number of customers added.
How has your mission evolved?
Who doesn’t want to be beautiful? BeautyHooked.com’s mission is to provide ease of discovering and booking the ideal beauty service or beauty product with very personalized product recommendations. To that end, we aim to constantly evaluate our product market fit and refine our offering to best fit the market and its requirement.
Where do you see the venture a year from now?
Within a year, the company’s goal is to bring the very segmented beauty salon and spa industry online, making it more accessible and transparent to the end users. It will provide a simplified online booking process, so members can schedule their monthly maintenance, discover new beauty services and destinations or find a last minute appointment, 24/7.
What’s the big picture goal?
We envision to be the search tool for all things beauty; where customers can discover vetted beauty spots, read expert editorial reviews, and book appointments instantly with just the touch of a button. The product will allow women to seamlessly search, discover, review and book beauty services in close proximity, saving time and enabling them to make more informed decisions about their beauty needs and choices. At the same time, it will serve as a tool for the beauty services industry to connect with customers, generate traffic, get market feedback and promote their products and services to those women who need and want them the most.
How much are you charging users?
We’ll launch the MVP in mid-July 2015 and it will be free to use for all users so that they will be able to maximize this service at no cost to them. We are in the business of Beauty made easy, and within a year, our goal is to connect our customers with the beauty services they need, anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
For whatever reason, there is – and has always been – a massive divide between clients and agencies. Creatives and brand managers don’t just sit on the opposite sides of the table in boardrooms, they sit miles apart in terms of expectations, ideologies and understanding of each other’s roles.
Brand managers are unable to harness and direct creative efforts just as creatives are unable to understand the many practicalities, restrictions and real-world risks that come with managing a brand. The solution is teamwork. The best results come when the lines between the agency and client are blurred; when an agency becomes as involved in brand management as a client becomes in brainstorming and ideation.
Brand managers should be as involved in the creative process just as creatives should involved in understanding the dynamics of budget allocation, marketing strategies, and target audiences.
Agencies should spend less time working in isolation and more time working alongside brand managers to understand the brand from its core instead of from a brief – that is of course, when time and resources allow that to happen.
- Successful Brands must Value and Empower Fans
- Neurobranding & Social Currencies in 2014
- Brand Management in an Unpredictable Digital Economy
Author: Babar Khan, Business Journalist at Express Tribune
Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here.
With an outnumbered Emirati population and growing influx of expatriates, Dubai has had to adopt to fresh imports of tastes, traditions and styles. The latest addition at CityWalk last year came with Rice Creamery, an innovative dine in concept inspired by multiple cultures and preferences found worldwide. We sat with the MD of the food group behind this and other successful ventures.
How did you get into the food business, and what was the “aha” moment behind Rice Creamery?
I have been in the food business for over 20 years and that’s after having completed my hotel management education. The”aha” moment came when a friend (now partner) in the business had the idea but lacked the “know how” or the where to attain financial backing. The idea went dead for almost a year then I came back to him telling him let’s do it via GLEE Hospitality.
What was the rationale behind the decision to have the flagship outlet at CityWalk?
Finding a prime location for a new brand isn’t always easy especially if it’s not a franchise. Preferences are always given to international brands. The site came available quiet late in the development of the mall and we jumped on it. Being a neighborhood location with relatively reasonable rent was a prime factor, and it faces the kids play area.
What is your personal philosophy and that of Rice Creamery behind customer satisfaction?
Rice creamery is a simple product which most people are familiar with in one shape or form. The customer most importantly must appreciate and enjoy the product / flavours, after that the rest is manageable. So far the response has been very good, as the flavours have been very well received. In some cases people told us we should increase our prices, which is a good sign of value for money vs quality vs service
How did you navigate the venture capital investment process?
Our financial partner approached us for another project after which we presented RC. She immediately loved the idea, and before you know it we had the location secured and we started the recipes trials
When can we expect to see franchises of Rice Creamery cropping up all over UAE?
For the time being we have decided not to franchise in the UAE. We are about to open Abu Dhabi in Dalma mall and soon in Sharjah. We have franchised in KSA , Bahrain and Kuwait.
Should someone be interested to build their own food business, how can they contact you or your team?
I’m easy to reach and quick to respond. They can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call GLEE Hospitality’s office on 04 4503775.