Jaz’s story begins back in Glasgow in 1970.
Having moved from India in 1968, his father opened his first Indian restaurant in the Scottish city. At eight-years-old, Jaz started working in the business washing pots – his first taste of life as a restaurateur.
“Aged 21 and recently graduated from university, I opened my first restaurant in the East End of Glasgow. I had a 100% mortgage on the property, and was paying a 20% interest rate! Two years later, I bought some land and opened my second restaurant – one I still own today.
12 years later, I joined forces with my brother-in-law and opened my first restaurant in Barnsley.
Market research showed us that there was nothing like it – no clean, crisp, Indian restaurants – and ‘Chilli’ was born. The rest, as they say, is history.”
It was the beginning of an amazing journey for Jaz.
Between 2004 and 2007, Chilli Restaurant had a turnover of £1m with a marketing spend of less than £2,000. To paraphrase Jaz, customers just flocked to the Indian restaurant.
That was of course, until the recession hit.
“2008 and 2009 were really tough and testing times for us. Our customers had less disposable cash so began revising their spending and our sales dipped. We went down the cost-cutting route. In hindsight, of course, I know this was the wrong thing to do. We should have been marketing, but we just didn’t have the tools to do so.
In 2009, Jaz made the decision to change his fortunes.
He headed to a seminars held by Nigel in Sheffield and signed up immediately. Jaz learned the importance of database marketing – and how to grow his all important database – and has been using the things he learnt ever since.
“Fast forward to 2014, and EC introduced me to Google Adwords. It’s since become the most important marketing tool for our business, and has proved to be the secret ingredient in our success story.
Within two or three months, we started getting bookings from our AdWords efforts. And these bookings have increased from a couple a month, to a couple a week. We spend around £3-£4 a day and are always in the number one position thanks, in part, to our 900 negative keywords.
In fact, we don’t do anything BUT Google AdWords now and we’re booked every Saturday for the foreseeable future. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you need to persevere with AdWords. Success won’t happen with it overnight, but it’s worth it!”
But Jaz’s story doesn’t end there.
In 2010, because the business demanded it, he began diversifying their offering. And, thanks to some outside-of-the-box thinking, today, Chilli Restaurant is nearly back in the position they were in pre-recession.
“In 2010, we diversified into outside catering. Something we have grown from £4,000 a year to a division of the business that now turns over £125k a year. We started offering a takeaway service in 2012 which has grown from turning over nothing to £80k a year, and in 2013, we launched our ready meals. These are now stocked by 12 local retailers, and turnover around £37k a year.”
And since joining the EC, Jaz has been making the most of the knowledge within the team.
Last year, at his local meeting in Sheffield, Jaz took the hot seat to pick the brains of Nigel and the team. You see, he had a problem. During the week, his second restaurant, Grille, was really quiet. Nigel suggested focussing on running a promotional offer one day a week, and ‘Tenderloin Tuesday’ was born.
“Historically, we were only getting 10-15 covers on a Tuesday night. Since launching Tenderloin Tuesdays, we now get 60 covers a night without fail. Every week. Grille is the place to be on a Tuesday night!’
For a minimal spend of £12-£15 a week, Jaz runs Facebook and Google ads on a Monday and Tuesday – at optimum times to maximise money – promoting the event. And, because it’s been working so well for him, Jaz has been putting this tried and tested method into practice again with a second promotional venture.
“Launching Takeaway Tuesdays was a natural progression. We’ve gone from taking 2-3 orders a night on what is historically a quiet night for takeaways, to consistently receiving around 15 orders a night.”
And entrepreneurial Jaz is never one to say no to anything and is always spotting amazing opportunities to grow his restaurant empire.
In 2015, we launched wedding catering but that happened by accident. I had a call one night from a friend asking if we could cater for her daughter’s wedding that weekend after she’d been let down by a hotel. Of course, I said yes, and we never looked back. We’ve got four weddings booked for this year, and it’s my goal to host one a month in 2017.