In a tête-à-tête with Franchise India, Mohamed Sohail Alimohamed, Founder and Director, Chaiiwala, talks about, the importance of social media in creating a brand and franchise expansion plans.
Four years ago, the next generation of a chaiwala (tea-maker) family from Delhi decided to take their great grandfather’s special recipe and open their first chai (tea) store in Leicester, UK.
Being born & bred in Leicester, the founders of Chaiiwala couldn’t find a decent place for having proper chai. They found a gap in the market and an opportunity to offer chai to the people of most multicultural city in the UK.
Incepted in 2015, Chaiiwala now boasts 20 stores across the UK with plans to grow to 45 by 2020 including international expansions.
In a tête-à-tête with Franchise India, Mohamed SohailAlimohamed, Founder and Director, Chaiiwala, talks about the importance of social media in creating a brand and franchise expansion plans.
Conquering the UK Market
After launching their first store in Leicester, Chaiiwala started getting an influx of franchise inquiries from people saying we want to take this to London, Birmingham, and Manchester etc. So, after researching well about franchising for about six months, the brand introduced its first franchise outlet.
Taking about their first franchisee, Sohail said, “Our first franchisee was a party that was quite big in franchising at the time. They had about 60 Costa coffees and they were at a point where they were also hitting a kind of glass ceiling, as the coffee brands were kind of supersaturated in the UK. So, they also kind of wanted something else, something fresh and they saw the potential in the brand. They signed up about 10 stores initially and with the help and expertise of our first franchisee we were able to expand rapidly.”
Leveraging on Social Media for success
The brand has leveraged the power of social media and mixed tradition and modern consumer needs to become one of the UK’s fastest-growing independent brands. The brand has been very active on social media to keep all of their businesses to make sure every product is very photogenic.
“In our training, we go as far as telling our staff that if you can't take a picture of the food, then don't send it out. In today’s age, it's all about the photo. People want to go to a place where they can get the best picture. Millennials decide their dine-in venues on the basis of how Instagram-able they are. So if your customers can get a good picture and it looks good half of your job is done and then, of course, if it tastes good then success is surely coming your way.”
Chaiiwala offers an amalgamation of the two elements to become one of the popular chai franchises out there.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Chaiiwalais not only innovating in their product range and also upgrading their socials constantly since the same décor & products will become monotonous &dull after a while. Chaiiwala constantly changes their stuff in every 6-9 months, so that there’s never a dull moment for their customers and they will be able to experience something new every time they visit.
“We are changing the way the photos come out because it's a very fast industry. We try to innovate &create something new for our customer. For instance, in the winter you'll have winter style cups maybe a cheeky slogan on it etc. It's basically just to force customers to take that picture and once they take that picture, everybody on their friends' list is curious to where this place is and where have you been. And it's just this is a knock-on effect.”
The brand has its presence around 98 locations in the UK, and the most wonderful thing about that is they have got around 14-15 franchise partners only operating as a multi-unit franchise. This is because in the F&B space it is usually common to have 100 stores with 100 partners.
“We've been fortunate enough to have most of our franchisees are multi-unit operators and everybody is pretty much on the same page. It's easy to kind of communicate with everybody.”
Chaiiwala is now looking forward to the Asian market for expansion, along with the US and Canada. The brand will be focusing on India, Pakistan, Middle-east & Bangladesh for their Asian expansion as being a tea-loving nation since these regions hold huge potential.
Indian Expansion Plans
Chaiiwala has been analysing the Indian market over the last 12 months and has earmarked 200 locations. The brand is planning to open 150-200 outlets in India over the next five years.
“India is going to really be one of our strongest markets and we feel the potential here is 10-20 times over what it is in the UK. We’ll be executing our expansion plans over the coming 12 months.”