Title: How Mushtaqs saved £10,000 in a single day
Publication: Love Curry
Date: April 2010
Photo: Ajmal Mushtaq
Ajmal is a Business Expert and is currently the Chef Director of Mushtaqs Restaurant in Hamilton, Scotland. Ajmal was part of the management team at Accenture, the largest Management Consultancy in the world. He was responsible for delivering multi-million pound business improvement projects for some of the top FTSE100 companies. He has three degrees from the University of Glasgow Law (LLb), Corporate Finance (MFin) and Management Accounting (MAcc).
His passion lay in Indian food and he gave up his career in London to follow the industry he worked in when he left school at the age of 16. He has now fused his experience as a chef with the best academic theories and lessons from consultancy to develop the Mushtaq Business Model that is responsible for driving an increase in like-for-like sales by 60%.
IT is not by chance that sales at Mushtaqs have increased by 60%. Their focus is on cooking food that gives customers the ultimate taste experience; and this is the starting point of all their activities. Ajmal developed his theory about business over the past three years and refuses to let doom and gloom of the current recession dampen his appetite for running a successful business.
“A recession brings challenges, challenges present opportunities, opportunities to build a more successful and profitable business. Mushtaqs has taken this mantra and applied it to everything they do.” explains Ajmal"
“Firstly, this is a great time to distinguish your business from the competition by offering superior customer service. When the competition was cutting back on their head count, Mushtaqs was ramping up with the aim of providing a service that would be many times better than the competition. The result was that Mushtaqs was able to offer a far better service.
“Secondly, this is the best time to build the best team possible – there is an abundance of talent that will come knocking on your door, simply choose the best and build a brilliant team. Staff attrition is 250% in the catering business. Mushtaqs combats this by offering employees salaries that are significantly higher than the industry average.
“Thirdly, in a recession, suppliers would rather keep your business at a discounted rate than lose you all together. A recession is the best time to negotiate the best deals as suppliers would much rather offer discount than lose a customer all together. The recent global boom saw prices rise sharply. Many of these prices have since fallen and suppliers in some cases have been slow to pass on the cheaper prices.
“The big mistake business owners make is that they are too busy working IN the business. This is the fundamental error. Business owners must work ON the business. From here, they can see many opportunities for driving efficiency to the core of their business and exploit new opportunities. It is important to review each contract on a six monthly basis. Demand more when renewing.”
An illustrative example of how Mushtaqs saved £10k in a day and how you could make big savings in your business
“Make a list of all Suppliers, Services, Spend, Reference and Telephone numbers. It is important to be very self-critical and question every single item that you have are currently paying for”, Ajmal advises.
Alarm Contract: have you had no call out charge in the past 3 years? Mushtaqs had no extra call outs requested in three years and no incidents over past 10 years. I opted to reduce the service from gold (£600) to basic (£250). Mushtaqs sits on the main commercial road in town that is covered by CCTV. A reduction in service was calculated risk worth taking. Saved £350
Waste Contract: when was the last time you looked inside your bins? Have a look in your bins. Is the rubbish being disposed of effectively? – are the cardboard boxes / bulky items broken down before they are binned? Six wheelie bins were uplifted twice weekly. This was reduced to two large 660ltr bins with 1.5 uplifts. Saved £1100
Electricity: Do you know when your contract period ends? Commercial companies tend to lock you into long contracts and present you a very short window to change your tariff. Look out for this three-week window and push for the most competitive rate. Saved £1800
Gas: Do you know when your contract period ends? This works along the same principle as electricity supplies (above). Again, know your renewal dates and ensure you seek out the most competitive rate. Companies would sometimes rather offer you an attractive discount rather than lose you altogether. Saved £2100
Poultry (Main Expenditure): My biggest bill each week is the Poultry supplier. During the fuel price boom, the cost of food soared and companied were quick to pass on the increase. Since 2008, food prices have been declining and these savings are not always passed on as quickly as they should be. I added another supplier into the equation. I now have three suppliers competing for my business. They focus on quality AND price. The price has come down by 12%. Saved £4,400
Visa /Switch Payments: This was by far the easiest discount to obtain. One short phone call and the company were very happy to apply a 15% average discount across all types of transactions. Saved £900
Insurance: Save as you would when buying normal house or car insurance. Business insurance seems to more difficult to shop around for. It is getting simpler with companies such as Direct Line. Saved £300
Laundry: We regularly had laundry items that were unused but were still charged as part of our contract. Ensure that your contracts match your requirements. Carry out a regular audit for all your services. Saved £250
Total Saving – £11,200
“This figure will no doubt vary depending on your cost base and usage but the principles applicable are the same. Take the time out to work ON your business – here you will see the big picture not only for efficiency savings but also for developing your business. Make it a habit to review all your contracts on a regular basis and drive cost savings into every aspect of your business.”