Bringing Fine Dining At Home
“Businesses Never Stop”
Life is all about a flow like rivers, blood, oxygen etc. Life without a flow is stagnant and becomes lifeless. So is the case with business that needs flow of ideas, thoughts, changes, cash etc. to grow constantly and succeed.
Indian Food Delivery Market
Moti Mahal food delivery has always been an ongoing process, hand in hand with dining, ever since the first outlet was setup in Darya Ganj way back in 1947. With no cloud kitchens and aggregators like zomato and swiggy to dream of, food delivery was either delivered by our staff on bicycles or people would come and take away. Moti Mahal started its Delux chain in 1972 in Greater Kailash which became well known as Moti Mahal Delux. Along with dining, the food delivery and take away business became a roaring success. Till today the total food delivery sales contributes to almost 40% of the total restaurant revenue. Moti Mahal Delux restaurant GK 1 branch till today has its own fleet of home delivery team and does not rely on zomato and swiggy and other delivery players.
However, if we talk of food industry in general, online food delivery business accounts for 30-35% of the total restaurant business.
India’s online food delivery market is estimated to touch $12.53 billion by 2023 according to a recent report by DataLabs by Inc42. Compared to the global growth rate of 9.01%, the online food delivery market in India is growing at 15% as per official reports.
With new players like Amazon joining India’s online food delivery market with top local players like Swiggy and Zomato, we can surely image the size of food delivery business and cloud kitchen market in India.
The only difference seen over the century is the changing cycle of packing material. Way back till 70’s food was packed and delivered in earthen clay pots and paper bags. Plastic was never a part of our lives. My childhood memories remind me of drinking water from clay surahis. I wonder why today beer comes in glass bottles and soft drinks in plastic! People use to get their own cloth bags with long sling hung to shoulder to get food packed from Moti Mahal in Darya Ganj. A practice now slowly coming back again at least for domestic grocery shopping. We play with nature for our convenience and then realize the consequences. Anyways, coming back to our topic of food delivery and cloud kitchen now.
Food Delivery Growth How India Orders
When we talk of cloud in terms of technology, it simply means storing and accessing data over the internet instead of your computer’s hard drive.
Similarly cloud kitchen means getting food serviced at your home using a tech usually an on line food delivery app. To make it more simpler, cloud kitchens are virtual kitchens that accepts incoming orders only through online ordering systems with no dining facility.
The cloud kitchen may or may not have a store front where people can go directly to pick up their orders. The reason operators prefer to open food delivery kitchens in a back lane or on higher floors is to fight against the rising rentals on high streets. Cloud kitchens also known by names like dark kitchens or ghost kitchens may be due to the reason that the guest really do not know where they actually exists. The customers only have an access to their menu via apps. Is this really a good sign we shall discuss as we go further.
No matter what, Cloud kitchens have become a new trend in the food delivery sector in India. The ongoing pandemic situation has given a jump to cloud kitchen concept with people preferring to eat at home than dining in their favorite restaurants and bars. Also declared under essential services, food delivery was never stopped during the lock down process in India.
While it does not take much to start a cloud kitchen, one must realize that there are possibilities that your food delivery ghost kitchen dream might turn into a complete nightmare! Firstly, one must know the necessary prerequisites to start a cloud kitchen. Secondly, the marketing ideas which will help you to increase food delivery sales of your cloud kitchen and make sure that your business never stops.
One could open food delivery outlet by opening a cloud kitchen with single or multiple brands with or without a store front. Another way is to take up a plug and play space in an aggregator’s access kitchen. Swiggy and zomato have started such kinds of base kitchens for operators to get their staff, utensils and brand and get going. Many private investors have also converted their spaces into base kitchen and are offering plug and play food delivery shared kitchens just like a co working office.
However, it’s a hard nut to crack for operators without a brand. When you come to the mathematics side of a cloud kitchen it is very simple. These shared or independent kitchens which have no physical identity of their own for diners to sit and eat. They primarily rely on online food delivery aggregators such as swiggy, zomato, and/or websites, mobile apps and telephones to accept online orders.
Cloud kitchens are surely a low investment model. At the same time you can make multiple brands with the same infrastructure be it of the same cuisine or inputting a different brand and menu from another cuisine. Of course, you would have to hire a few new chefs of that cuisine to make the product authentic.
No business goes without cons! In today’s world diners are willing to pay premium price for a brand they recognize. If customers never come into one of your restaurants because you don’t have one in their area, how would that impact on their understanding of what you offer? Next the challenge of opening whether a dining restaurant or cloud kitchen would be the same, to get the right chefs to produce an awesome product. Even if you get the right manpower, the logistics of salary and their retention would always keep you on toes. List goes on further with demand for various cuisines in the market for food delivery. Weather the cuisine and menu is transport friendly to retain its original taste and consistency to the maximum after delivery? Huge commissions to aggregators for on line delivery and so on…
The solution lies in paying higher rents and making dark kitchens visible to the customers. Another better option is to take a franchise of a reputed brand. This will not only get you brand recognition, but also availability of chefs and working processes. Though the franchisor is going to dent you with royalty, but it’s worth the cost. You get a tried and tested model, back up of chefs with years of goodwill attached with the brand. The royalty cost you incur can definitely be compensated with the rent you were to pay by taking a premium food delivery kitchen location on your own. Bigger brands do come with a little extra price tag but help you to grow exponentially.
Now whether you take a franchisee or sail on your own with your cloud kitchen, the most important aspect is love what you do. The only way to put in your 100 percent is when you truly enjoy whatever you do. Only a positive mind shall give positive results! http://motimahaldelux.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Presentation1-pdf.pdf
No matter whichever way you jump in the food delivery business, the ingredients for marketing your cloud kitchen would remain more or less the same. With customers craving convenience, here are few ways to augment sales of cloud kitchens.
Delivery partners like Zomato, Swiggy, Easy Diner, Dine Out and many big upcoming entrants act as virtual food courts, letting customers browse through restaurant offerings and order online. These aggregator apps provide as well as promote, your food delivery menu and your cloud kitchen brand for on line ordering to potential customers in your area. Be clear about what each aggregator partner brings to the table. For example, some partners may offer primarily an ordering portal. Hence in many platforms, you’ll still need to handle the delivery through your staff or by hiring a delivery service. You may typically pay 25 percent as food delivery commission, but the aggregators stand on the point that “We only make a dime when the restaurant makes a dollar.”
Is Your Brand a “Friend in Need?”
Tough times force consumers to reappraise their food buying and brand choices. It is brands moral duty that we see our long past associated customers as people and not just consumers of our brand. These are the people who have been associated with us in good times. It is good to know that your favourite brand is geared up for social responsibility by sending messages of social distancing or hygiene practices or may be even donating money, but is it enough? Just like our loved ones take care of us when things are down, brands need to propagate cheers to get their customers smile.
The Hungry Brain
Food being an art, the role of visuals in food delivery culinary world can do wonders. Unlike dine in, where the main creativity depends on chef’s plating, the online representations of your dish is your role play. But trust me a bad picture can spoil your marketing strategy. Concentrate on the main product than the props as you have limited pixels to play with.
It is well known that you first eat with your eyes, then with your nose and finally with your tongue. The first sense is covered by the pictorial presentation. A little of the eye catch can be done by the packaging, which has lost its value owing to the pandemic. Senses would immediately arose the moment you transfer food to your household ware. The whiff in the air is enough to stimulate the hungry brain!
Where’s My Food?
There seems a clear linear correlation between food delivery time and re-order rates from your cloud kitchen, or customer retention. Give true estimated time of delivery. If you are busy on days, guests would understand so long you communicate well as customers want transparency. Use “Track Your Grub” option that alerts customers when their orders go out the cloud kitchen door and let customers pinpoint the food parcel’s location to be kept on.
Deliver Your Promise Along with Food
Customers sitting at home expect the same service like dine in. Timely food delivery is as important as the quality of the condition of the food that arrives. One spilling container can spoil the whole lot. Shrink wrap to avoid gravy spills, 86 the ice to prevent watery beverage, include eating utensils straws and condiments. Consider using packaging with clear lids to increase order accuracy and remove items from your delivery menu if they don’t transport well.
Add My Loyalty Points
“Enhancing a food delivery business is not about getting a customer to place one order, but about getting them back to come for repeat orders”. Even players like Mc Donalds, Dominos, Moti Mahal Delux, Subway to name a few have to knock the customer’s mind that we are there and open to deliver. However, great may be your food, loyalty and promotions play important roles to get your cloud kitchen sales graph growing.
Loyalty programs encourages customers to re order where customers earn points for every rupee spent. These points can translate to rewards, like a free item or a discount.
A well-integrated CRM (customer relationship management system) helps you to stay in touch with your cloud kitchen guests. Personalize your messaging based on their behavior and preferences to keep them ordering food time and time again. Effective remarketing campaign plays equal and important role for lost customers through wishing on occasions, new additions to food delivery menu and a whole lot of innovative ideas one can think of.
Great Quality Food Delivery
When people talk about you on social media with phrases like “On Time Delivery, Awesome Food, and Unique Hygiene Levels” always attracts more positive attention. Customer testimonials on your website and more effectively word of mouth establishes a level of trust for potential buyers and shows creditability of your food delivery system.
Offering a small portion of something unique is always memorable, and bound to create a buzz with exposure for your cloud kitchen. We at Moti Mahal Delux offer free small portion of matka biryanis along with are regulars like butter chicken and tandoori chicken tikkas. Within a span of three months we could see a jump in our sales of biryanis orders. Another option to promote is free portion of daal makhani (Moti Mahal’s invention) and a baby naan with tandoori platter.
Free may sometimes work better than discounts because freebies encourage people to try new foods. The second highest dish is free in your whole order and or free beverages, a small portion of phirni are often among the freebies that food delivery cloud kitchen can offer.
Your CRM system provides important dates of customer’s anniversaries and birthdays. Your free birthday offer could easily generate hundreds of rupees in business. The trick is getting information about your customers and using it in a timely way.
Making Hygiene a Routine Practice
Lot of restaurants, food delivery units, cloud kitchens advertise on social media regarding steps taken towards contactless dining, social distancing in kitchens within their staff, temperature checks of chefs, delivery partners, guests coming to pick up food. However, there are many more sensitive areas of hygiene when it comes to dark, cloud, ghost whatever type of kitchen one can name. The hygiene check list runs in big numbers in the food and beverage industry as a normal practice. Restaurant hygiene as a matter of fact is indispensable, whether there is a pandemic or life is sailing smooth. There may be few do’s and don’ts connected with the ongoing situations, but the F&B industry can never ever sleep over on basic hygiene practices. As a matter of fact most of the food production players do practice these on day to day basis.
Just to mention a few examples to make one understand how simple yet important these are without refereeing to any situation.
- Wash hands every half an hour. There is normally an alarm bell which rings every 30 minutes to remind staff to queue for hand wash which is mandatory.
- Use of colour code chopping boards for chicken, mutton, fish, dairy products and cooked food, to avoid cross contamination.
- Six monthly staff medical checkups and not allowing sick staff on duty.
- Importance of hand, head and beard gear. Now comes in the mask!
- Sanitizing knives, utensils etc. on daily basis.
- Deep cleaning process every week after pest control. This process, if done correctly with adequate manpower, could use half of the day or may be more as per the size of the kitchen and restaurant.
- Correct storage of raw butchery and semi cooked products, since small kitchens have space constraints to keep additional freezers and chillers.
I can go on from these simple steps to more complex ones, but the point is their importance and implementation as a service to society. The chart below shows a sample of cleaning process flow in a commercial kitchen.
As I mentioned in the beginning of the post that flow of ideas are important for any business to become from lifeless to full of life & vivacious. Brick and mortar restaurants will continue to exist to provide a dining experience to the customers. But with changing times, Moti Mahal Delux has also ventured into cloud kitchen models pan India under different brands for their existing and new franchisees.