Today there are 40 RocoMamas branches across South Africa, wind back 18 months, they were only three. What kind of a business miracle is this you ask yourself? Is it good planning? Is it lucky? We investigate…
Makamba Online had the pleasure to chat with co-owner Brian Altriche about the success of the brand and doing business in Africa.
For those of you who don’t know, RocoMamas specialises in hand-made food and customised menus where diners can co-create their dishes. The concept was launched by Altriche in 2013. Altriche also owns two Spur-brand restaurants as a franchisee.
Brian Altriche and Paul Dempsey founded RocoMamas in 2013 and have since grown it into a household name in the food industry. RocoMamas is involved with healthy traditional fast food, prepared to order in a fast-casual energetic environment for eat in or take out, using the best non processed ingredients in a sustainable and responsible way.
“I started RocoMamas because I wanted my teenage daughters to experience great fast food, considering I yearned for those burgers I encountered as a 19-year-old whilst slacking it in the USA. Simple story really, but a tale of unlearning everything I had learnt and reimagining it in a sexier, healthier and simple modern way,” explains Altriche.
Altriche is an entrepreneur at heart and owns various businesses within the food and beverage industry. “I enjoy creating brands from a dream via inception through launch and operations, a journey of deep thought. White space and absolute clarity in visualisation,” he says.
Challenges and solutions
Brain emphasised branding and customer service as key to MocoMamas’ economic growth, also making mention of the challenges he faced in market penetration in South Africa.
“Real economic growth within the country (South Africa), is a challenge, we are basically slicing up the same pie within the industry. We deal with this by focusing what happens within the four walls of our stores as we have control there, whereas outside we don’t. Customer experience is key and of absolute focal importance to us at all times,” he told Makamba Online.
“I embrace my failures, calling them ‘my fabulous failures’ and humbly savour the sweet taste of successful progress. It is never about money for me, I just want to emulate exactly what I visualise into the real world.”
Makamba Online went on to ask this pioneering entrepreneur what its takes to be established in the market. He said; “Word of mouth is the only way to establish a brand and this is more evident with social media in the modern time. A brand can be made or lost in a nanosecond, so it is both an opportunity to really gain traction if the brand’s offering is on point. It also requires consistent nurturing to remain relevant, and to not drop the ball because social media can decimate a good name.”
Growing outside of South Africa
Makamba Online asked the co-owner if the he has any plans to expand his offering to other markets in Africa. He said: “We have opened a branch in Namibia and are trading well there, currently Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Mauritius are being built to open within the coming months. This expansion into Africa is also largely on word of mouth.”
The company makes profit by charging a 5% of turnover franchise fee which covers all operational costs including salaries and leaves the owners with a profit after these costs are paid.
Browse through RocoMamas’ menu here.
We asked Altriche to take us through his compnay’s best practices so to ensure a smile on a customer face each time. His reply was simple, creating an excellent dining experience;
“The customer experience starts at the point of entrance to the store and hopefully that is when they start smiling. We have numerous touch points to our customer experience which include great fast food and effervescent service, but generally the experience at RocoMamas is greater than the parts.
“Customers are in charge of their own meals, customising them on the menu to taste appeal and size; we have a sharing culture and all in a fast-casual environment that is not intimidating, whether dining alone or in a group.
“We are also passionate about customer’s names and/or aliases whilst serving as this makes it more personal. We have a huge take away customer base too.”
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs
Grit and determination, passion and visualisation are key. Listen to your customers but don’t change your vision or product as you can’t be something to everyone – this is Altriche’s message. He goes on to offer these three tips:
- Be prepared to fail, as I call them ‘my fabulous failures’, because success cannot be quantified without failure and risk.
- Have utmost integrity in all aspects of your life and know you can lose your money and assets but if you lose your good name then you are history.
- Always know WHY you are in business and keep this as the core. NEVER do business for money, do it for enjoyment as the money WILL come but manage your money astutely.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro