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3 Tips for Opening a Hospitality Business, with Sai Charan

In this second issue of 3 tips to opening a new hospitality business I interviewed bartender legend Sai Charan, who has spent the past 3 years travelling the world as Asia Pacific brand ambassador for Diplomatico Rum. This journey started while Sai also had his own bar in a booming section of Auckland’s CBD, Fort Street.

Prior to his life as a owner operator & world rum ambassador, Sai & I spent many a night discussing cocktail recipes as we competed in competitions across New Zealand. In the final years we started talking about what it was to run your own business & the new challenges this brings.

Combining this experience & his international travel to incredible venues around the world gives Sai a unique look into the hospitality game…

Sai Charan, Asia Pacific brand ambassador for Diplomatico Rum

Sai’s Top 3 Tips

Tip 1. Location

The first topic that Sai dropped into our chat in under 15 seconds was location. Taking the time to research & truly understand the area you are wanting to open your business is key to success.

You need to be careful not to enter into a location that is noted as being ‘up & coming’ if you require traction to help cover bills. Just as important is to not be setting your eyes on a location that (due to previous popularity) has high rents but the market has moved elsewhere.

Sai’s tip here is take the time to review different locations and how it fits with your planned model.

Tip 2. Capital Backup

The next key point raised by Sai was making sure you have backup capital when opening your venue. It is a harsh but true reality that nearly all hospitality businesses require re-investment in the first 12 months of operating. Not having this backup capital available can be a real challenge when wanting to hit your venue dream.

During those first few months you will get a clear understanding of what your customers like in your offering as well as what changes to your venue need to happen. It could be more tables & chairs or extra sun cover; changes that can have a dramatic impact on your weekly turnover and success.

Tip 3. Decent staff with good personality & knowledge

We both had a laugh at knowing how important the right staff are to a successful venue but that it is definitely easier said than done.

Finding key staff can take time and loads of energy. Knowing that not everyone who will come to work with you will fit your business model is very important.

You need to know when to move staff on that don’t fit the purpose & vision for your business. What seems like a painful process to have this conversation only gets more excruciating the longer you delay it.

The next part is putting the time & energy into supporting your team’s up-skilling and knowledge base. A simple hour training in flavours of your menu can help improve that up-sell straight away; a seemingly obvious task but one that usually gets bumped down the to do list.

BONUS TIP - Tip 4. Concept

A solid fourth point that came to Sai during the end of our chat was being clear on what your concept is & how you plan to market that concept.

A clear concept has become a glaringly obvious difference to successful businesses Sai has visited around the world. It helps identify your place in the market, strengthens the way you go about marketing your business and helps attract & keep the right employees.

So making sure you have clearly outlined what your concept is and how you plan to execute it is critical to success.

Keep an eye out for our next blog in the series - 3 tips for opening a hospo business by Andy Griffiths…