August 10, 2006

Satisfy Me!

When you start a new business in an already crowded market place do make sure you get one thing right - go out of your way to satisfy your initial set of customers and treat them like you'd treat the most valuable person in your life. This holds true even more in the food industry where established tastes and loyalties are hard to switch and you get more or less only one go at getting them to move.

Yesterday night, I wanted to order out from a new joint in Saket, called The Blue Tandoor, because I was more or less sick of the existing joints there. There are more than enough eateries out there, mostly around the PVR Anupam area, but almost all of them follow the cost saving approach to cooking non vegetarian food, which uses the base marinated meat that's given the final treatment/masala/garnishing according to the order.

The only other joints in the vicinity, who do it differently are Cafe Rendezvous and Swagat in Malviya Nagar and neither specialise in doing Mughlai. So, at least in theory, they do have a window of opportunity in serving to a niche within the food spectrum that has a ready and massive audience in the area they are located in. But they botched it up and in a terrible way.

Firstly, their menu card did not have the minimum order figure listed anywhere. Second, it was priced too high, at Rs 500. When your price point of your main dishes is at an average of Rs 250, it would be hard to top that figure. And most people who use home delivery don't often order three course meals, thus making the "sir, please get a starter or a dessert" line a non-starter.

I spent five minutes with them ordering what I wanted to order, after which the chap told me that it fell short of the Rs 500 mark, following which placed the order with my regular chap who was only too glad to serve me, and even better they call up the day after asking if there were any problems with delivery and quality. Five minutes after I placed the other order, the chap called me back clarifying that the manager had said they would serve me. Nice, but it was too late by then.

I have seen this across Delhi, that new joints or even older ones, don't value their new customers. Most times, going out of your way just once for a new customer could win him/her for you for a long time. And good service also works to get you brownie points in terms of peer-to-peer reviews. One satisfied customer often leads to many more from the same segment. Just one among the many points that's lost on them.