Gourmet Garden

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Business Talk

This category would contain posts that touches on the flaws of F&B businesses through observations.

Marketing vs. Branding

Posted by Jason Wong On December - 29 - 20102 COMMENTS

Am i a zebra or a horse?

What is Marketing or Strategic Marketing and what is Branding? Are they the same? These are some of the questions that many are still not sure of the answer or have confused these two concept to be one. Therefore, we would have to begin from the very basics to answer these questions.

What is Marketing to me? Marketing is the management process that identifies, anticipates and satisfies customer requirements profitably.  Therefore, it forms a social and managerial process which individuals or businesses finds an unsatisfied need or want, creates a product or service and supplies it in the most efficient manner and price to provide value to the consumer or buyer and earn a premium or profit in the process. In short, the Marketing process places customer or consumer satisfaction in the focal point of all business activities.

Some of the important elements in the Marketing philosophy or concept are as follows:

  • Marketing focuses on the satisfaction of customer needs, wants and requirements.
  • The philosophy of marketing needs to be owned by everyone from within the organisation.
  • Future needs of the market have to be identified and anticipated.

And what is Branding or what is a brand? A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, design or value, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services or businesses that differentiate one from another. Therefore, it is understandably that branding is about getting the potential customers to notice you as the most suitable solution provider to their needs and wants. Thus, the objectives of branding or a brand should be:

  • To delivers the message clearly.
  • To confirm your credibility.
  • To capture the emotions of your target prospects.
  • To encourage or motivates potential buyers to act to your benefit.
  • To create and strengthen loyalty or emotional attachment.
  • To generate value to the brand.

Therefore, to succeed in branding your business or products, one must first understand the needs and wants of your target audience or market and create something that can satisfy and give value to the target market.

To summarise, Marketing is the social and managerial process of satisfying customer needs and wants, and branding is the process of persuading your target audience to choose you from the others, so don’t forget to check the best digital marketing companies and start getting help growing your business.


Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Restaurant Owner?

Posted by Jason Wong On April - 21 - 20102 COMMENTS

Starting your own business is the desire or dream of many working stiffs, and entering the F&B industry is one of the easiest choices by considered by many. But does the many have what it takes to be a successful and profit churning restaurateur?  Annually many enter in to this sexy industry which combines together science and art to produce creations that enticed our senses through the manipulation of flavours and sight, but as many as up to 50% to 60% are forced to leave this industry with their tails between their legs suffering huge losses within the first three years of operations. The failure rate is about 26% for the first year itself. Even experience and establish chefs are not spared this tragic ending if they are not well prepared and do not have what it takes to fully participate in the daily managing and marketing of their restaurants. Does your restaurant want to be part of these statistics or is your restaurant equipped to face the challenges to stay afloat or make a lucrative profit margin?

Review-100109-Brown House_20

To become a restaurant owner is not difficult; one would just need to have the answers to the following simple but yet hard questions:

  1. 1. What are your current and future plans for your career or business?
  2. 2. What is the reason for establishing a restaurant?
  3. 3. What kind of food do you have knowledge and passion in?
  4. 4. What is the trend or market demand in your target area?
  5. 5. How much capital do you have for start-up?
  6. How much funds can be pooled for daily operational expenses? My suggestion would be a minimum of six months.
  7. 7. What business or corporate structure should be chosen?
  8. 8. Who and how many competitors are in the area?
  9. Determine what is the most suitable size of the restaurant?
  10. 10. How much is your involvement in the daily operations?

Entering into the restaurant industry is easy; it is the daily managerial and marketing activities that will actually be the challenged to become a successful restaurateur. On the operational front, as an owner you must be ready to participate in every level of managing the restaurant be it in the kitchen or dining floor up to the ‘selling’ of your products to servicing your customers. It is all hands on!


Case Example:

As Restaurant and Marketing consultants, we recently encounter a restaurant in a prominent mall in Penang that abruptly closed down due to long term mismanagement and inexperience that left it bleeding profusely since the beginning of its operations. From our initial encounter with the restaurant and its owner we already set its life span for between 6 months to 1 year the most. The reason was simple:

  • Right concept poor execution,
  • Inconsistent and poor quality of food served,
  • Lack service initiative by the service crew,
  • High level of wastage that ultimately eat into the margins,
  • Lack of right experienced management to lead the operations and oversee the kitchen activities,
  • Slow adaptation to environmental changes,
  • Inefficient Marketing Strategy and Management,
  • Inefficient control of budget and expenses.

Therefore to succeed in creating and operating your own successful restaurant, you need to have the right concept, proper execution, good management and leadership direction, cost efficient control methods, sound targeted marketing strategy and tactics, and most of all adaptable to changes. Thus, to have the following focus in place before operation of the restaurant begins would provide a higher probability of survival of your restaurant:

  • Let the staff know what your expectations.
  • Develop a good marketing strategy and tactics according to your budget, capacity and target market. to get the word out to more potential customers about your restaurant
  • Make sure a system is ready to provide customer satisfaction in terms of food and service.
  • Work hard to meet your budget limitation and revenue goals.
  • Consider using a restaurant consultant and marketing consultants, if sales are continually down.

Are Blogs Relevant To Branding And Is It Effective?

Posted by Jason Wong On April - 13 - 20106 COMMENTS

BRANDING is more than just advertisements and adopting new communication solutions to grow ones business. It involves delivering the promised that was made in ones message or concept that it will provide.  The failure to do so interprets into a loss of confidence and loss of loyalty to ones brand and ultimately the product or service.


One of the new communication solutions (media) and fast in growing acceptance are blogs. Blogs used to be the online diary of an individual, but recent years have shown us the commercial and political value that it can bring to businesses and politicians. Blogs and other social media was one of the reasons that created a political tsunami during the last General Election on March 8th 2008, where the opposition coalition got control of three states on the Malaysia Peninsular, namely Penang, Perak and Selangor.

KV-200907-Young Heart Review_44

Being a consultant in the Marketing field and a steadfast food blogger it gives us a different prospective when it comes to writing our experience on invited reviews and also on our casual dine-outs. Many restaurants and even hotels are resorting to inviting food and lifestyle bloggers to experience their hospitality and their “products” for free and in return have the blog owners write about their feedback and create an awareness of their brand name and products. Utilising blogs you enjoy:

  • Low investment required,
  • Targeted  advertising or promotion effort,
  • A more persuasive selling of the brand and its message,
  • Longer message life cycle,

But is it really effective? It will be if all the comments carry a positive note of their experience to promote the brand and product. But then it would also rely on the reputation of the bloggers to convince the audience. Reputation in the sense that they show consistency of fair and impartial reporting or comments and an acquired skill and pallet that provides them some authority over their readers or audience. In others words they may be call critics, but popular ‘celebrity’ bloggers do also contribute to the promotional effort as it brings with them the visitor traffic (figures) that follows their blogs as a guide to places of interest.

Whether it is serious food critic bloggers or celebrity food bloggers, the main thing is to get all the basics in running a restaurant in order before inviting bloggers to review and promote the business. Any prematurely planned events will not be in favour of the brand name, in fact it would be detrimental to the branding or promotional effort and also to the reputation of the bloggers. Inevitably the public would, for themselves, experience what the restaurants or business can offer and would form their own judgement.

Would You Trust Reviews of Our Local Bloggers?

Do let us know your experience and trust level of blogs that you follow or know off!

The following is the list of invited review that we have attended:

  1. Miss Saigon at E-Gate, Penang. Closed down late 2009.
  2. Young Heart at Cantonment Road, Penang. Has become our first client for our Marketing & Restaurant Consultation client.
  3. Haven Delights at Penang Times Square. Their menu has changed through time.
  4. Ko-Fu-Loft at Gurney Plaza, Penang. They have closed down since early March 2010.
  5. 113 Cafe at Tanjung Tokong, Penang. Consistency would need to be look at, otherwise a place that we would return for their specialties.
  6. Ivy’s Kitchen at Jalan Chow Thye, Off Burmah Road. A place that we would return for their home cook dishes.
  7. Who’s Bryan at Lorong Teras Jaya 2 in Raja Uda, Butterworth Penang. We have not been back there ever since due to expected consequences.
  8. Pearl Palace at Setia Pearl Island Country Club, Sungai Ara Penang. A place that we visit when I am at my in laws.
  9. Kang Beef House at Jelutong Penang. Would be back for the noodles.

Yet Another Restaurant Faced With Closure!

Posted by Jason Wong On March - 10 - 20103 COMMENTS


On June 7th last year we were invited review to Ko Fu Loft in Gurney Plaza for an invited review which did not really went down well with our taste buds. After the review, me and Gill visited the restaurant on 2 more occasions which was also quite an eye opener for us. And from the memorable experience, we gave them about 6 to 12 months life span in this prominent mall which is also slowly loosing its grip on standards. And on the 2nd of March 2010 which is about 10 months after Ko Fu Loft started operating in the mall, it has finally call it quits and have lowered their shutters for the last time.

It is a pity that Ko Fu Loft had to abandon its initial concept of Dim Sum in a mall, which we also had when we saw the place after the Food Loft also met its demised. I guess it is rally true that same ideas and concept will have different result in the hands of different people.

Basically, the most noticeable reasons for the abrupt closure of this Dim Sum restaurant was because of:

  • Right concept poor execution,
  • Inconsistent and poor quality of food served,
  • Lack service initiative by the service crew,
  • High level of wastage that ultimately eat into the margins,
  • Lack of right experienced management to lead the operations and oversee the kitchen activities,
  • Inefficient Marketing Strategy and Tactics,
  • Inefficient control of budget and expenses,
  • Low participation of stakeholders,

Therefore to succeed in creating and operating your own successful restaurant, you need to have the right concept, good practical planning, proper execution, good management and leadership direction, cost efficient control methods, sound targeted marketing strategy and tactics, and most of all adaptable to criticism.

Next on our observation list would be a newly establish typical Hong Kong style tea house or ‘茶餐廰’ in Gurney Plaza. We had a dining experience there once, and I would say that Kim Gary would fair better compared to them. It has a retro type of decor but is uncomfortable to a certain degree and the food is worst off compared to Kim Gary.


Blog Evolution

Posted by Jason Wong On October - 30 - 20093 COMMENTS


I guess it is time to add some spice to our food focus blog that we have got here. Many readers or fellow-bloggers might have read that we have been running a Strategic Marketing and Food Related Business Consultancy business ever since I left my previous job as an Area Manager for a German lubricant company.

We have been wanting to write about what we have seen and encountered through the pass months from our encounters with restaurant owners, chefs and service crews. And most importantly we would like to share some of our view points on the viability and problems encountered by the Restaurants, Cafes, Food Courts, Food Manufacturers, etc in the Malaysian market. Thus, we have decided to introduce a new category, ‘Busi.Body’.Other than explaining the downsides, we would of cause share some of the points that have help build brands and business.

No names would be mentioned, only the business nature would be brought up as simple case studies!

And for our disclaimer ‘The reviews and opinions expressed here in this blog are entirely based on our personal taste preference and observations and may vary from others. We have not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from the restaurant or business establishment for producing our reviews‘, it still holds ground.

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