Jaipal Yadav, managing director, at Favouritetable Services tells us about online restaurant selling during a health crisis.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jaipal Yadav: We’re fine, thanks for asking. Like everyone else, we have had to adapt to new norms but we’re still enjoying life. When I am not working in my home office I am out cycling, which is great for fitness and it gives me time to think about my priorities, as long as it isn’t snowing!
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Favouritetable Services.
Jaipal Yadav: In 2010, I was enjoying a meal in one of our friends’ restaurants, and afterwards he showed me a hefty bill from his booking software provider. When I asked why it cost him so much, he said, “there is no alternative and these guys have a monopoly. Unfortunately, I have to pay whatever they ask.” That sparked the idea of helping restaurants by offering better, web-based, and more cost-effective software.
Developing technology has always been my passion and I love writing applications that solve complex problems. I believe that technology should be created to help people and businesses rather than simply be an overhead. So, our journey to create Favouritetable began from there. We quickly created the best value fully featured restaurant software on the market.
How does Favouritetable Services innovate?
Jaipal Yadav: Innovation has been at the heart of favouritetable since its inception and we’re driven by two major factors: we love contemporary technology and our customers always demand the very best. It is so important to us that we constantly stay ahead of the game and give customers functionality in our product which not only makes their lives easier but does it in an intuitive and friendly way. There’s no point in having a product that is feature-rich but difficult to use because restaurateurs are too busy to spend hours learning new things. So we have put a huge amount of effort into making favouritetable very usable at every level.
In terms of how we develop, we operate a very agile process which means we are extremely focused but able to react quickly to new demands or to embed cutting-edge technology. A good example is our collection and delivery module, which we developed, tested, and released in less than two weeks and is now critical to most of our customers as a new sales channel, right when they need that most. We only use the most up-to-date tools, both within the product and the business as a whole and we will never stop innovating.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Jaipal Yadav: We’ve always made it our mission to go the extra mile for our customers, wholeheartedly believing that what goes around comes around. Nobody could have foreseen this devasting pandemic, but I am delighted to say that our customers have remained loyal to us. Our churn has always been very low and we’re fortunate in having reserves to draw on while customers endure their current difficulties. Sure, we have had to adopt new models but we know that we’ve done the right thing in offering payment holidays, amended pricing and so on and continually engaging with the favouritetable family of customers. I am very confident that when this is over, we will still have the vast majority of our customers and many more.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Jaipal Yadav: Well, I mentioned tools earlier and we made a conscious decision some time ago to operate a lean business model. All of our staff are multi-skilled which means we can divert them to whatever the business needs, and despite the current situation there is always a lot to do! We are developing more than ever, plus planning new growth strategies for the business so in short, we have retained our staff very successfully. We also have a wide network of associates whom we engage on an as-needed basis, so we always have the option of turning things up or down to suit. Lessons? I think for us it is clear that development and marketing resources are the last things to ever be cut in a crisis. Without those, we don’t have a business.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Jaipal Yadav: Well, it evolved from the principles I mentioned earlier. Simply, we are passionate about restaurants and always go the extra mile to support our customers. We understand restaurants so well that in many cases we are almost part of their families. Once a business begins with those kinds of values, no matter how much they scale the business, those values remain embedded into the fabric of the company. As we’ve grown, we have moved from it just me being at the end of a phone to offering a wide network of support methods. We have learned that customers want different things in that some like to pick up the phone and chat things through, others like a quick answer via in-app chat. This isn’t about being reactive, however, far from it. We can’t innovate in the right direction unless we know at a deep level what customers really think about favouritetable, so our mechanisms for gaining continual feedback are critical. And we think that really shows in both the quality of the product and our low level of churn in what is a very competitive arena.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Jaipal Yadav: We have been fortunate in the past to have some great apprentices and we’re proud that they went on to have great careers. In relation to the business right now and in particular the COVID crisis, we haven’t needed to access any funding for the reasons I mentioned earlier.
Your final thoughts?
Jaipal Yadav: What a year it has been! Times have been tough and we’ve felt the pain that restaurants are experiencing. For us, the passion we have to see those restaurants not survive but to thrive has really been our focus and we’re so fortunate to have such a loyal group of customers. We have never stopped innovating, in the belief that if you stop, you are instantly going backward and that’s when the churn starts. The market is very competitive but we genuinely believe in the difference Favouritetabe makes to restaurateurs’ lives, so rather than think “ok, we need to scale back” we have drawn on all our strengths gained over the years to actually be much stronger when times change, just like restaurants. And that’s down to having the right experience, focus, technical infrastructure, operating model, efficiencies, and of course fantastic customers.
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