-By Swaminathan Balasubramanian (+91 7718960636)
Rama Subbu Krishnan, who owns Hotel Aryaas Group in Kerala is a third-generation hotelier. Entered the sector at the very tender age of 16, through passion and destiny, he had seen many ups and downs in the business. A veteran in the industry, Rama Subbu speaks on various aspects including the credit terms for suppliers, competition, retaining workforce, and his expansion plans. Edited excerpts.
What according to you are the top three trends that will decide the fate of the restaurant?
Quality, taste, cleanliness, and service are the four major aspects of a business. Today customers who come expect everything in an equal ratio. Even if you are excelling in all three and fail in one aspect, chances are less that you will end up losing the customer.
In general, hoteliers aim to get the same taste in every outlet. But you want uniqueness.
Yeah. I feel that every outlet should taste different. There should be some kind of uniqueness in every single aspect that attracts the customers. We manage 6 restaurants and every single outlet has its own difficulties and challenges. What is needed for the stand-alone outlets might not suit well for the one in the highways. For example, if you take our highway outlet near Edapalli, we were one of the few early birds who identified the demographics and decided the need for a quality pure vegetarian restaurant in that area. To our surprise, the customer support was beyond our expectations from day 1. In a highway outlet, you need to have a fabulous parking mechanism and clean restrooms.
Post pandemic, don’t you see many newcomers and first-generation hoteliers are entering the business?
It is welcoming that many want to enter the hotel sector. I wholeheartedly welcome them. I see two kinds of people- one who owns the land, and one who has money. People have to understand land-owner and hotel-owner are two different things. As we hoteliers know, if customer-facing is one side of the business, what happens behind the kitchen is another critical, yet, most unnoticed angle of the business. That is the reason their success rates are less. My suggestion for people who enter the business is, to first work in the system to understand the business for 24 to 36 months. That will be a safer step that would avoid any further issues.
How important is a procurement for a smooth function of a restaurant and how you address it?
Procurement is an art. Hoteliers’ smartness should exhibit in two aspects- food and technology. Once you decide on the location, type of food you are going to serve, a hotelier should always be on the go in search of good raw material at a competitive price. In fact, I suggest that a hotelier should try to go for a cash-and-carry business and avoid credit. When we do not sell on credit, why buy on credit? I had personally faced insults during my initial phase of the career. The more we go for non-credit business, our credibility will increase and we will get uttermost importance from our suppliers.
Next is the equipment. Some of the hoteliers are ‘penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to equipment. With technology has evolved, equipment is now becoming an integral part of every business. When the word gets on the market that we are unveiling a new restaurant, we will be approached by many consultants and equipment makers. I had seen instances when the need is for INR 4 Lakh, companies sell 40 Lakhs worth of equipment only due to the ignorance of owners.
There is still a challenge for retaining the workforce in the sector. What is your take on that?
Yes. There is a big challenge in finding and retaining talent. My suggestion for the change should start from the hospitality education. If you notice, every H-school trains students for the star hotels and cruises. In the ground reality, the biggest demand is there only for the stand-alone tier-2 restaurants. If there are training institutions that come up focused on them, I am bullish this issue can be addressed.
Bigger restaurants had bitten the sand many times. Challenge is there in any business. It is in our mindset to challenge our challenges. I understand many are facing challenges due to COVID. This too shall pass on. Take this opportunity to enhance yourselves and equip your employees. Do not have an ego and try to be with them during their tough times. A most important rule is, we should upgrade the restaurants at the peak time. However, many of us fail to do and realize it late and after our downfall, we try to upgrade the business which will fail.
On a concluding note, how did you become an author?
As our next generation had entered the industry and I firmly believe they can handle few things better than me. For example, online reviews or e-sales which I am not good at. I am replicating the same as what my father did to me. Being an author was a long-time dream (laughs). I always wanted to share my journey with others and was waiting for a chance to do that. I had recently launched that which is available in stores.
ADVERTISEMENT- Team Sapins wishes the team Aryas for their consistency, taste, and service. To know more click here