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Growing Your F&B Business: Five Questions To Ask Before You Expand Your Hospitality Brand When deciding on expansion plans, there are numerous factors to consider.

By Kunal Lahori

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EL Sur

When deciding on expansion plans, there are numerous factors to consider. Among the most important factors to take into consideration when plotting your next outlet? Location, brand position in the market, projections on profit, and many others. One area that I would study before executing expansion plans is the relationship between demographic and location. Your marketing also has a huge role to play, so the ability to provide exciting activations is a crucial factor. Our plans for Prêt To Go have had no diversion, and we are set to penetrate every business community in Dubai. We have a very profitable investment, and we can now focus on the phase two of the expansion plans which will be announced towards the end of this year. From an entrepreneurial point of view, if you make that first business plan, you have to follow it. Don't react to the market once you've completed one element; follow the entire plan to complete your vision. Here are the five questions I would ask before opening a second outlet, a third, or even franchising my F&B concepts.

1. Is The Location Advantageous In More Ways Than One?

For Prêt To Go, the idea was always been to cater to professionals who are on the move time constraints, therefore all expansions are in office clusters and free zones with large working communities. Specifically for our second branch, I chose JAFZA since I have been working there for over 14 years, and this was more a natural realization. The fact that JAFZA has 200 of the world's top Fortune 500 companies, but no F&B outlets providing healthy meals certainly gave us an edge. Our location in JAFZA is the perfect balance between wholesome natural food in an accessible fast-paced environment. No other F&B offering was filling the void for healthy and natural food, so I did. The next location we plan to open is in Dubai Media City this month.

2. Is The Brand's Direction In Line With Consumer Needs?

This is regarding my suggestion of studying the correlation between the demographic and location. Consumers are looking for options; we have over 55 items on the menu and we change them regularly. In our menu, you can find options free of dairy and gluten, along with alternatives like raw, vegan and other nutrition-specific requirements. We're not limited by cuisines- we have American, Italian, Thai, British, Arabic and Indian dishes on the menu which are constantly evolving; our menu couldn't be more in line with discerning consumers! What's more is that we provide a neatly packaged meal, which you can have at your desk or at our brilliantly designed stores. You can look to Prêt To Go for everyday lunch ideas and eating well. We aim to prompt a healthy standard of living and our entire menu reflects this. We are filling the gap for people looking for a healthy lifestyle without the luxury of time.

Prêt To Go

3. Is It The Right Time To Expand?

Gauging the right time for outlet expansions is a very difficult element to consider. As much as you want to capitalize on the hype around the first outlet's launch by tweaking your plan to accommodate consumer response, it's always best to stick to your original strategy. We always planned to be five outlets strong by end of summer 2015- we knew exactly what the market is like in Dubai, having been in the region for three decades. To be able to create the footprint that we want in this region, our plans were to have five outlets within the first year of operations. Before we opened the first location in DIFC, we had identified the spaces, the locations, and how each area would be received and when we would open them. The team, infrastructure and resources were setup in a way to enable growth.

4. Should You Franchise Your Brand?

Franchise is something I am interested in, and I would definitely consider. Deciding to franchise is almost a personal decision- you need to determine what qualities you would look for in a partnership and how much brand regulations you'll need those partners to adhere to. If the right sort of people approached us, like- minded people, we would give serious consideration to franchising and joint ventures. I am very involved in the business, the menu variety, the design, the consumers, the look and feel, its language and approach to consumers, its focus on health; I live and breathe my F&B ventures. For me, I'm involved all the way and trust that anybody else who would take it on shares the same opinion. Prêt To Go has heart and soul, and I believe that it's due to the team who have been there from the beginning. It's very important for us to have like-minded partners on board and share our passions.

5. Is Your Brand Identity Intact?

Deciding on expansions, finding a location, deciding to franchise and many other business questions can be simplified if your brand identity and vision is solid. Finding a locale, for example, is all about knowing your brand and your vision- there are too many brands in this region that don't have identities and just want to be in a mall. Their business aim identities are often confused; entrepreneurs and businesspeople are trying to check too many boxes and offering too many services. I knew my concept from the beginning, and I haven't steered away from that. As a result, deciding on new locations is easy since we know who we are, and what we offer, and where we can best find our target clients.

Overall, I believe key factors to entrepreneurial skills are also a lot about achieving the perfect balance between passion and pragmatism, especially with regard to the vision you have for your brand. I love food and I love focusing on F&B ventures, but the reality is I also have to keep my business head on at all times; I can't let my passion overwhelm the business mind. Don't be overwhelmed with trying to complete too many projects, know your identity, know the brand you want to launch, the market you are launching in and know your vision. Business is about planning and committing to a concept you believe in.

Kunal Lahori

Founder, Prêt To Go

Kunal Lahori, the founder of Prêt To Go, is a passionate leader, boasting a long track record of successful management across a variety of business industries. Lahori is continually searching for a variety of avenues to explore within the accelerating market. Apart from a notable interest in managing large scale industrial, commercial and retail real estate portfolios, his serious passion is food, hence having launched two well-received F&B concepts in Dubai: El Sur and Prêt To Go. Following the successful launch in the DIFC, Prêt To Go opened in JAFZA, with another three UAE outlets set to open by the end of summer.

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