Amongst the chaos of running a busy business and a bustling restaurant, Niel Stanford sat down with us over a latte to let us in on how he managed to turn around Jamaica Me Crazy into what it is today. Having just been sold at six times its original value, Jamaica is a BC Franchising success story for the Western Cape.
Niel took over as Operational Manager at Jamaica Me Crazy in June 2010, after which things were never to be the same again. With a vast wealth of knowledge behind him, Niel had a vision and plans for Jamaica which would turn it around in just 4 years. When Niel purchased the restaurant it was small, struggling and on the verge of closing. However, there was potential and that is what sparked an interest in Niel.
The process of turning the restaurant around was long and planned. Niel described his first year as consisting of an operations rehaul, the restaurant needed a lot of work and a little love and care. Year two was all about creating a brand image for Jamaica Me Crazy as well as brand awareness. Back when the restaurant was purchased Woodstock was not the trendy and ‘vibey’ hub of creative energy that it is today. People did not want to go to Woodstock for dinner, they had to be encouraged to go there. One way in which Niel encouraged more feet through the door was through Groupon. Don’t worry, I also had a raised eyebrow at this one, but Niel was quickly assuring that this was not a Groupon “horror story” but rather a successful one. Though for many restaurant owners, Groupon might have been the reason why they closed their doors in a very heart-sore fashion, however, for Jamaica it was a different story. Through Groupon Niel managed to create a large database of loyal and valuable customers that still frequent Jamaica today. The secret to this success was to treat Groupon customers better than any other customers, “many restaurants put their Groupon customers in the darkest and coldest corners of their restaurant. I didn’t want to do that.” Despite the fact that Niel spent over half a million through discounts, with the right strategic planning Groupon helped Jamaica turn around. No wonder he won Groupon’s gold award two years in a row for best vendor. In his third year, Niel spent his time streamlining the operations of Jamaica Me Crazy, for it to be successful it had to run as it’s own entity.
So what exactly is Niel’s secret for restaurant success? Two things; consistency and atmosphere. If you give your customer consistently good service, good food and a great atmosphere then they will come back. He encourages all his staff to arrive with a smile, every customer is valuable and if you are upset or irritable the customer will feel that from you and not enjoy their experience.
Are you looking to sell your restaurant in the Western Cape? Contact Niel today at BC Franchising Consultants Western Cape. He is there to help and guide you through every step of the selling process.