7 practical lessons for success of small business from Big brand Street Food

Feb 26, 2021
Many restaurant entrepreneurs are running the business to a point that need to further launch their branches, especially for Street Food or small restaurants. The question “How should we do on branching?” The key answer is ‘system and standard’ development to the success of your business.

But How important are both the 'System' and 'Standard'? And how to build both of them? Today, MHA are taking you for the discussion with 'Khun Tham - Prawattree, business guru and restaurant business management expert, with over 25 years of experience. Khun Tham is still a lecturer and the owner of an international standard street food brand named “Plara Der” which its favorable taste that many people are in love with, including brand 'Pad Thai' as the business growing with 10 branches in the Netherlands.

'Khun Tham - Prawattree,

Business guru and restaurant business management expert, with over 25 years of experience

1. Excellent operating systems – a heart of Chain Restaurant success

Before opening his own restaurant brand, Khun Tham was working with world-class restaurant chains such as The Minor Food Group and Blue Elephant. He was a part with other famous brands such as KFC, YUM, Thai Express, Pizza Hut, The Pizza Company, Burger King, Sizzler and so on. Working with these big-name corporations and leading brands gives Khun Tham the opportunity to see Chain Restaurant of what these world-class successful restaurant businesses have in common; 'Excellent operating system' or 'Operation Excellent'.

“What makes these big brands so successful and be able to launch thousands of branches - essential elements are 'system', 'standard' and 'excellent operating system'. These are the DNA to make the business sustainable success "

To prove what I have learned while working for big brands for decades was the experiment with open up brand ‘Plara Der’ before leaving The Minor Food Group.

“I started from developing recipe, costing and SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) making and there was Training Roadmap to teach employees to make papaya salad, pickled fish sauce, sausage, marinated pork neck and chicken and bamboo shoot curry etc. 2 months later I moved to the Netherlands to create brand 'Pad Thai'. On this account both businesses of mine can well guarantee with its verification that if we really have a good system, we can succeed like other big brands as well.

 Plara Der – Street Food Brand upgrading papaya salad (Som Tum)
Favorable with the taste and service standard

2.  How useful are ‘Standard’and ‘System’?

Khun Tham explained that The problem with most restaurants is quality because of the influence of emotion. If the mood is good then it will go well, but there will be another outcome as the result of imbalance emotion given the impact on food and service.

“First of all, standard helps maintaining the consistency of taste and quality of food – quality, taste, quantity and service will always remain as usual for any customers for example, quantity placement of chicken - if the picture title is left, it should be on the left as well not differently from the picture on the cover. Another important thing is that anyone can do it too, as we have Recipe, SOP and Training Roadmap, it’s not required to be professional chef to work with. It also fastens the process to open up new branches, but without these systems to control our standard, branching will be more difficult to do. These are the main things I learned from working with big brands and I adjusted with my own."

Standard Manual and Training Road Map of brand ‘Pad Thai’

3. Find your own Hero Product

Some restaurants may think that the presence of multiple menus for customer consideration is already good, but Khun Tham mentioned that having a Single Product, a Hero Product or a signature point help the easier management and the easier selling.Hero Product is so important for Chain Restaurant especially for the one that want to open up more branches.

Hero Product of brand ‘Pad Thai’ 

Is Pad Thai – Famous Street Food of Thailand

As the example of KFC's Hero Product is fried chicken, and McDonald is burger. I have adapted this way of thinking to Pad Thai starting in the Netherlands. We mainly focus on selling Pad Thai, but there are also other secondary dishes such as green curry, Massaman curry and other appetizers as well. However, hero product still be the original Pad Thai which we do frying on a flat pan to cook it easier, but still remain the traditional taste of Thailand.

Pad Thai is the food that Thais may think it is normal on the sideroad food stall. But it became Thai food that everyone knew in abroad. I came up with the idea that I wanted to make Thai Street Food like Pad Thai become popular fast food with standard by setting up the standardization system of Pad Thai. It has made my business here successful and enable us to open up branches.

4. 3 important systems in restaurant

Speaking of ‘the critical system in restaurant', restaurant management gurus mentioned on categorizing into 3 sections:

1) Kitchen system

2) Service system

3) Management system

“The system is what we experiment and modify time after time until it becomes the expertise and practice that we have proven that doing this is the best. Consequently, it becomes system in which the 'kitchen system' form the quality of food for consistent quality, reducing waste, having delicious taste and so on.

'Service System' is the tool for training your employees of what kind of customer service will be provided and what the details of the process are. As the example of customers arrival, stuffs must have the smile on their faces as greeting and during the orders taking and order waiting of the customers show the steps of hospitality and all. Identical process of the branches makes the standard including Admin functioning system or restaurant in-house management such as accounting, financing, marketing etc.

This will help each branch run the business smoothly and help us to take care of the business easily. "

5.  Upgrade the Street Food with ‘Food Hygiene’

In terms of street food, If you want to increase the sales figure with the concept of big brands, how will you do it and where should you start? A restaurant guru like Khun Tham answered that 'cleanliness' is the first priority.

"Whether it's upgrading, upscaling or up-selling, I think 'Food Hygiene', both cleanliness of food and cleanliness of working standard, is probably a variable that plays priority role to make the food and the restaurant image look good, and help up-selling the food.

Supposed that Somsri's tofu pudding (Douhua) run on the side of the road, wants to uplift the business, it may start with clean uniform, keep the hair neat. Sales person has trained in Food Hygiene to know how to carry food cleanly – which one is bad, should you do it or shouldn't? When your street food look hygiene, customers are willing to pay pay more for the better quality in order to buy your products."

6.Set up standard and system to ‘Branding’ 

Khun Tham also pointed out the importance of system and standard play an important role in remembering and ‘branding’ with the addition of easier operation and easier branching.

The frequency sets the standard and branding for restaurant cognition from the customers as logo, employee uniform, restaurant decoration and so on including the procedure and hospitality service like saying Hello and Thank you etc. This is the way I build up my business of Pad Thai restaurant or Plara Der need to think of concept and Brand Book first.

Process of thinking of branding and system takes lot of time until it’s clear and later operational training will be proceed following the concept that had been laid out.

7. What matter is intention not the size
What Khun Tham would like to tell to entrepreneurs of street food or small restaurants who want to lift up the standard whether the restaurant is big or small.

"Size doesn't matter, but the importance is intention which want to have system and standard because the system is the key. This will enable us to develop our business for sustainable success. High Skill of cooking of Thai people started up Street Food with multiple concepts. Constant improvement of quality standard started after the best-selling for a while because of the weakness of Street Food as without the, we will not have any income, is that right? As the self- own restaurants without the owners and no substitute to run instead, we will not have any incomes, right?

So whether you are food cart, Food Truck, shophouse restaurant or big restaurant, system is always important. If we do not take system that important, it will make us tired and running business will not be fun because at the end we will have to come back and fix the same problem over and over. " “Actually, system is not that difficult to do, but it's not easy as well. It takes time for testing, adjustments and requires the discipline to make it. Without system, everything will end in our generation or the generation of our descendants. System doesn’t require the size to be large, the small one should do for ensuring what we have made is up to standard every time or even when someone else run the business instead. System will make sure that nobody can copy in advance it helps reducing your fear as well for that. For the people who come to work with you without your instruction written on board, they can still do it themselves very well as the benefit of the system.

“I want to highlight the importance of the system and development of worker and team help our business to keep forward continuously and sustainable success”

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