By focusing on a core business operation, local restaurant Mak’s Place has cut costs, improved profitability and reduced wastage.
While Singapore enjoys a vibrant food & beverage (F&B) scene, smaller businesses in this space sometimes struggle. In fact, based on a 2015 SPRING Singapore (now Enterprise Singapore1) survey, only some 60 percent of smaller F&B businesses survive their first five years of operation. The study revealed that successful smaller F&B businesses tend to have a stronger focus on core business operations than on ancillary areas such as branding.
Breaking Boxes from the Start
From the outset, restaurateur and passionate foodie Mr Feroz Mak did things differently, focusing on an often ignored area of small businesses: financial management. Indeed, it was not the first time that he had approached business from an out-of-the-box perspective.
The owner of Mak’s Place, a restaurant that serves halal Chinese food, says that he was first inspired by his mother’s home cooking, and later, from his observation that outside of the home, good Chinese-Muslim food was hard to come by. “Those days, you could count on one hand the restaurants that had halal certification, let alone those that served Muslims. I wanted to provide halal Chinese food that tasted like it came from the heart, to this community.”
Staying ahead of the curve did not stop with the birth of his restaurant in 1998. A turning point came about 2010, when instead of retiring as he’d originally planned, he decided to scale up his business. He explains this change of heart as follows, “I decided to carry-on with my business mainly because of all my long-standing customers’ requests to continue.”
Yet he realised this could not be achieved solely as an informally-run business, especially given that the company’s finances at the time were managed by him single-handedly, while also having the hat of chief chef and human resource manager. “I ran my business from this waist wallet,” he says laughing, pointing at his hip. “I paid my staff and suppliers out of it. And while I was meticulous with my filing and invoicing, we used to run into trouble whenever I was out of town,” he recalls.
“I realised that this system of running my finances just would not do,” he says. “My timing could not have been more perfect, because at the same time that I decided to scale up my financial processes, SPRING (now Enterprise Singapore1) became more active in reaching out to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) like myself with their assistance programmes.