Seeking professional guidance from Realise Business has been a fantastic move for restaurant owners Lily and Evan Li from Zun’s Kitchen, which specialises in quality fresh Korean and Japanese cuisine.

The experienced restaurant owners opened their Rydalmere restaurant in mid 2021 and soon faced a lengthy lockdown, but with next-level help from Realise Business they are now set to thrive.

The owners followed advice to really understand their operations – from food and beverage costing to digital marketing and promotions – which has put the business in a great position for the future.

Tools to make true costs transparent

Recent industry statistics show that up to 80% of Food & Beverage businesses are not costed and operationally geared up for success. This puts pressures on the ongoing viability of the business.

So, when the Zun’s Kitchen owners began working with Realise Business advisor Tim Noye, his assignment was to gain a thorough grasp of their daily food and beverage costs.

Tim performed an operational analysis, which involved a deep dive audit to uncover what gross and net margins the business was hitting, followed by a Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) audit and menu development to ensure the food side of the business was optimal and making required margins.

Realise Business provided a free hospitality modelling platform and support to make the task straightforward. The modelling platform takes in data on all operational, overhead, supplier, menu and labour costs to produce accurate company figures and an exact overhead allocation. This overhead allocation is a key component for the next step – working out the true costs of specific menu items.

The owners entered their five most popular dishes in the modelling platform to see how these performed within the operation, using the overhead allocation.

The exercise helped clarify what made the best margins and what was good value from suppliers. It also indicated what to change for better business margins and optimal results.

By nailing the brief to examine daily overheads, Zun’s Kitchen management has significantly increased their transferable operational skills and their chances of running a successful operation.

Comprehensive support

Realise Business will be working with Lily and Evan on other aspects of operations and sustainable growth. The agenda includes optimising team workflow, managing OH&S requirements and allocating labour during prep and service periods.

The owners are enthusiastic about the advisory service, commenting, “Highly appreciated your efficiency, support, and service during this time. I have to say that you are wonderful!”

Realise Business also provided help with promoting the restaurant and assisted Zun’s Kitchen with a plan for marketing and brand development.

Understanding market segments

While the Rydalmere restaurant has a strong presence on Chinese and Korean apps, it needed a broader strategy to reach more customers. Realise Business explained how to improve marketing messages and menu items to attract local residents and office workers. Advisor Sara Berry worked with Lily to develop their brand, to understand local competition and to really comprehend their key customers.

Sara also conducted a digital audit and outlined the role of marketing segments. The Zun’s Kitchen market consisted of several key segments, and they could adjust menu items, pricing, service and messaging for each segment to attract and encourage repeat business.

The office worker segment looked for regular Westernised lunch options at an affordable price that could be served quickly. Suitable features, such as the ‘Teri beef’ lunch special for example, could be showcased in messaging to that segment. Another segment was the local families dropping by for takeaway dinner – they were prepared to spend more on several courses. The lockdown-loyal takeaway customer segment was different again, accustomed to the sashimi and Korean chicken dishes and ordering in catering size quantities.

Cost-effective and creative digital marketing strategies

Realise Business worked with the owners to create a free Google website with the longer-term goal of improving search ranking for keywords such as ‘sushi Rydalmere’.

Their brand story, which will eventually be rolled out on social media sites was also developed. Sara points out that a well-told story can differentiate your business, and brand storytelling is especially important “in a crowded marketplace”. The Zun’s Kitchen story highlights Chef Evan’s culinary qualifications and skills and his passion for food.

The owners have been delighted with the support from Realise Business, saying, “You are always there to help. Whenever I call you, message you or email you, I always get an answer quickly. This makes me feel that I always have support, which is fantastic.”

The marketing journey continues

There is plenty of scope to attract more customers so the owners are now consulting advisor Sue Walsh on further aspects of marketing, including a design template to give their social media a consistent brand look and feel.

Sue has been working with them on their window displays, with consolidated shopfront messaging to take advantage of foot traffic. Zun’s Kitchen also has a new loyalty offer and will be listed on the Discover Restaurants & Cafes for the Parramatta area and feature in a Parramatta Times ad.

Lily and Evan have been on a productive journey since engaging Realise Business. They appreciate the “profound and professional guidance and experience” they have encountered and their business knowledge gains that will be with them “forever”.  

You can follow Zun’s Kitchen on their social media platforms:

Contact Realise Business for details on free help provided to businesses in the Parramatta, Telopea, Carlingford and Rydalmere areas.