Juggling among brands

One mother brand and many sub-brands of restaurant running under one management team and present at the same location sounds difficult in functioning, isn’t it? True, it’s not so easy. Which brand should be highlighted, what if the sub-brand starts overshadowing the mother brand, what should be the ideal location, investment funds, expansion planning are some of the difficult areas to handle in this case

Amar Ohri, Executive Director, Ohri’s Group, says, “We have many sub brands in our portfolio but the mother brand is always ‘Ohri’s’. All the experiences that we get from ‘Ohri’s’ further help in developing other sub-brands under the company’s roof.” The company operates more than 21 brands of restaurants including coffee shops, pubs, fast food joints and fine dining outlets.

Managing operational standard is very important. There are fixed timing when senior managers of the company visit different locations to check out the operational standards at different restaurant outlets. Gaurav Ahuja, COO, Red Ginger Hospitality India Pvt Ltd, says, “It is a little bit easier to maintain operational standard in company owned multi-brand restaurants as the vision and mission of the company is clearly put in the mind of every employee of the organisation. But, it would be more difficult to manage a franchisee with franchises of more than one brand as he or she may fail to assimilate the vision of each brand unlike the franchisor.” The company owns four different brands of restaurants – Cultures World Cafe, Mad about China, Madras Mail and Indian Tadka.

Brand operation and expansion

Speaking about the brand expansion and location strategy, Ohri says, “We do research and survey to find out which location would be the best for which brand. Hyderabad being our home market, we experiment there with newer brands all the time. But, if we are planning to extend our reach outside Hyderabad, a few selected brands from the group are taken out to launch.”

Creating or experimenting new brands outside the established home market could be critical and risky. But if once the brand is established, has successfully etched its identity in consumers’ mind, then launching the brand at other location becomes easier. Deciding on as to which brand – Chinese, Italian, Indian or Thai, should be set up, depends upon the location and demographic characteristics of that particular area.

Creating a unique identity

The challenge in running a multi brand restaurant is to create a unique identity for each and every brand. An operator of multiple brand restaurants has different experiences with different brands; the functioning, operational standard is not the same. One has to do intensive research, surveys, demographic study, consumer analysis to launch the right brand at the right place with right menu mix.

“If someone wants to open a Chinese food serving restaurant, in that case, he has to make sure that everything about the restaurant is Chinese and very much into it. From design to the execution of shop fit to food menu to interior to furnishing – everything, even the promotion and marketing of the brand, has to be perfect and in place. Yes, it is difficult to maintain this entire thing, but we have been able to do it simply because we have put proper focus into each and every brand,” says Ohri.  

But, if there are challenges in maintaining multi-brand restaurants, there are benefits too. Ahuja says, “There are lots of benefits of having three-four different brands in your portfolio, as in our Indian family, every single person has different tastes – some love Chinese, some Italian, some Thai or Indian. So, if you are serving only Indian food then there are chances of losing the consumers who love Italian or Chinese cuisines.”

While promoting one brand in a multi brand restaurant format, it might be possible that it could affect other brands. Ohris says, “The popularity of one brand does not affect other brand as the mother brand is always going to be popular than any other sub brands. The popularity of mother brand overshadowed the other brand in the company.”

“Creating new brands or executing it is not difficult for us because every brand under our portfolio is unique – be it food menu, designs, interior, furnishing of the restaurants – all are different. And all of them are successful brands too,” added Ohri. A sub-brand should be very unique to its own identity, have a unique USP which is different from the other brands, it should offer something different which no other brand under the company’s portfolio is offering, then only it would be successful. To maintain this uniqueness, an entire team is dedicated with full fledged training support.

The success recipe

While creating a multi brand portfolio, one needs to be clear on why he is creating a new brand, why people would come to that, what is the USP of the new brand. “When you feel that your new brand has something different to offer and none of your other brand is offering, then you can take it forward and success would be yours,” says Ohri. Adding to the management of the multi brand operation, Ahuja says, “Running multi-brand restaurant is like having multiple children of single parents. Every brand needs a little bit of management time and care. One has to take care, nurture, and build each and every brand separately under the company’s portfolio.” Managing time is all what it takes to operate a successful multi brand restaurant.  

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