A fierce young entrepreneur who is redefining the hospitality industry, Mehreen Bindra is the force behind Oh! Bao by Moets, a premium restaurant in the busy lanes of Defence Colony Market. Coming from a line of successful restaurateurs, Mehreen tells The Restaurant Times her story of running Oh! Bao, a premium restaurant in the busy streets of Defence Colony, and shares her insights about the restaurant industry. Edited excerpts…
POSist: What is the story behind your restaurant business? What was your motivation? Why it was important to you, since you could have easily joined Moets?
Mehreen: My father is the force behind my entrepreneur journey. He is a self-made man and has always kept a high level of commitment to his work. Gratefully I imbibed these qualities from him. After my education when I entered the family business, I wanted to change the public perception of Moets to a more evolving brand. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and experiment with something new.
POSist: What is your vision for Oh! Bao ? How do you see it evolving in coming future?
Mehreen: In coming future I would like to see Oh! Bao as a niche brand having its share of loyal customers who enjoy and appreciate the experience.
POSist: What are three things you tell to your employees (team) in order to grow your business? How do ensure that all the staff works for one primary goal?
Mehreen: At Moets we motivate our staff to work as one family with respect and integrity. There are monthly induction workshops for new joinees. Daily staff briefings are held, weekly sales targets are sets and on achieving this, staff is rewarded. This gives direction and goal to the staff. They are briefed to work as one pack with unity.
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POSist: What kind of value you want to create for your customers so that they come again and again to your outlet?
Mehreen: Hospitality is one such business where just following rules, regulation and procedure Bible is not enough; it's all about the personal touch and going that extra mile to retain a customer. To ensure good service, staff needs to be constantly motivated, food quality and taste are maintained. There are certain Customer Relationship Management software that help you connect with your clients on a more personal front.
POSist: What message you want to give to young entrepreneurs who want to venture in the Restaurant Business?
Mehreen: The restaurant business is one that is very attractive and luring on the outside but has its fair share of challenges, biggest of them being ‘Rent’. In high footfall marketplaces, rents are too high to sustain in for a long time especially with the young crowd, as it really tends to flock from one place to the other. You will see a place doing really well for a year and it suddenly dies out.
Also, staff needs to be kept happy, motivated with salaries paid on time. As an owner/founder, one must try and connect with the staff. It could be brief but it's essential.
POSist: Staff and employees are an integral part of your business. How do you retain and motivate them?
Mehreen: In the hospitality industry, human resource is the key factor that can either make or break your customer relationship. Every staff member has his unique strengths, which need to be highlighted. Staff members should be made feel good about them and be high on confidence. Staff motivational programs are a must. We have a tradition of ‘man of the month’, this truly keeps them motivated and on their toes.
POSist: How do you ensure that quality remains standard every time you serve?
Mehreen: Recipes that have been finalized after ongoing trials are finalized and documented. Chefs are given training on those set recipes. We do not encourage changing vendors or the brand of raw materials sourced as this may lead to variations in taste. Pictures of certain dishes are pasted on the kitchen walls to ensure standardization of the presentation of dishes as well.
POSist: What is the best mode of marketing? How important is to be tech savvy in today's age? Does it really help in terms of generating more footfall?
Mehreen: Well, the best marketing is and has always been the word of mouth. It is the most reliable and genuine. However having an online presence is very important as well. It doesn’t ensure footfall but certainly creates a recall value in the minds of the customers. It is also cheaper and you can choose the audience you want to target. There are a lot of companies one can hire for social media marketing.
POSist: How do you see the food industry growing? What are the upcoming food trends in Restaurant and hospitality industry in 2016?
Mehreen: The food industry is growing and will continue to do so. The whole concept of eating out has become very common especially with the younger generation. Online food ordering apps have definitely created a niche for themselves and will continue to grow. The concept of molecular gastronomy is gaining popularity in India and interests me. Healthy eating option and salads are surely trending as well.
POSist: What are your expansion plans?
Mehreen: We are working towards being present in the 5 metropolitan cities of India, along with maintaining exclusivity with no more than one to two outlets per city. We will choose locations wisely.