Today, we continue to sit down with Kent Chua, as he shares more stories on how he leads Rhombus Group to stay ahead of the curve in the highly competitive industry. We’re also very lucky to get Kent Chua to spill the beans on some financing tips!
Missed out on the first part of our interview with Kent Chua? Check it out here.
What are the top 3 most important financing tips you can share with fellow entrepreneurs?
- Hire right. As an ex-auditor myself, I understand the importance of having good finance managers with the right business acumens, technical experience and most importantly integrity and accountability when it comes to money management. Your finance personnel can make or break your business, hence the sound advice from them will enable you to determine your decisions, based on your financial resources and capabilities.
- Budget planning and cash flow management is of utmost importance to ensure that a business does not over or under spend unnecessarily. In a business like ours where perishables are high, budget planning keeps you on track and most importantly, out of debt. However, what has been planned and forecasted may not appear the way it is sometimes. Hence, our method of keeping tab is to review from time to time and fully understand the finance position of the business. In a business hungry for expansion, it is vital to match expansion with cash flow planning. Getting caught between massive expansions without a sound cash flow can sink the entire business.
- Packaging and Branding. Perception matters in the business world. So we got to package and brand both our corporate and personal image right. With this in place, it’s easier to attract the right kind of investors and also the commercial banks to be onboard to support your funding needs. Personal branding and a solid corporate profile is a must in today’s business environment if you really want to make it out there.
The market trend is constantly changing; how do you strategically plan and position each brand to overcome the challenges unique to each trend?
I would like to quote Bruce Lee here, “Be like water”. As a company we must be able to be flexible enough to go with the flow, to adjust and mold ourselves to what’s happening around us. If you don’t change, the customers will change you.
To tackle this issue, our corporate strategy team constantly analyses data collected from on ground market intelligence and being sensitive to what’s the latest consumer behaviour and trends. Based on these studies, we will incorporate them into our pricing, product and marketing strategies.
We also have ‘Key Opinion Groups’ who consist of our regular customers for us to reach out and seek their opinion on any promotion or events we are planning to execute to have a clearer picture of what the real-time market response will be.
I also hire regular customers for our key positions from brand managers to general managers! This way, business decision-making is constantly revolving around the customer’s mindset effortlessly.
Malaysia is a land where the locals love food, and this gave birth to many other F&B options for the people to enjoy. How do you ensure that your brands are always ahead of competition, and encourage repeated customer patronage?
To stay ahead of competition, it has to start from the very beginning, which means getting it right from the start – so target audiences do not get confused of what you are or what you have.
A strong brand identity and message has to be put across internally and externally; it has to relate to your concept and subsequently, your offerings.
Once the identity and messaging is set, the next step is to ensure that consistency is applied so that the brand registers in the mind of consumers and you are the first port of call when they think of the industry you’re in, or the type of products in the market. Communication has to be consistent although it evolves through time to stay relevant.
In Rhombus Group, our 19 brands range from two years since inception to over 20 years. How we keep the concept alive is by staying true to the brand’s identity. For example, one of our Thai fine dining restaurants, Rama V has been established for 20 years. The success of the restaurant is attributed to the brand image it has built, which is one of Kuala Lumpur’s most celebrated authentic Thai cuisines with top notch food, service and ambiance.
While the brand is strongly built on the outside, internally, it is important for the staff to echo the brand’s message. Not only timelessness comes in the form of clientele, but it also cultivates loyalty and strong beliefs from the operations.
When it comes to encouraging repeated customers, nothing is more important than the basics. Not focusing on the basics is one of the major downfalls of a brand and subsequently its business. When we say the basics, it refers to fundamental elements such as the taste of the food, the ambiance, pricing, services and quality. Intrinsically, brands must be consistent in their basic deliverables in line with their brand message and communications.
What are your thoughts on technology and how it helps entrepreneurs like yourself?
Technology is a must for all entrepreneurs.
An example would be something as basic as chatting apps such as Whatsapp where you can text and share files. It helps me keep touch with the lie of the land. While I sit with my partners to keep our business direction going, being connected with my team constantly while I’m on the move helps me understand what needs to be fixed or how can we up our ante. And more importantly, considering the hectic schedules of entrepreneurs, technology also helps us to stay connected with our loved ones.
Needless to say, technology is a great tool to push our brands especially in terms of marketing. The Beer FactoryTM has many a time created successful campaign spurts on platforms such as Facebook.
In 2016, one of our many creative activations, which involves a solo challenge to finish a giant pork platter in under 25 minutes, when posted online and garnered more than 500K views, over 1.1K comments and over 2K shares! This is massive publicity with minimal cost. Such an outreach would not have been possible without technology.
We also leveraged on the PokemonGo trend and released a simple video on our page for brand awareness, which garnered more than 146K video views!
Technology has also helped us tremendously through systems such as our point-of-sale, reservation and customer management. These help us to boost efficiency, up communications, enhance customer retention and cost savings in the long run.
All in all, the technological tools are all around for us to use, we just need to apply it strategically to make the most out of it to give your business an edge in this increasingly hi-tech world.
Let us know in the comment box below, who do you want us to interview next! Don’t forget to subscribe to TheBizJuice now to receive more awesome business tips from Malaysian’s entrepreneurs!