Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Hamza Ben of Beacherpa: Navigating Business Challenges

Welcome to the interview series hosted by Jesse Samberg. Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Hamza Ben, the founder of Beacherpa. Hamza’s journey into the business world began after gaining experience in an accounting firm and feeling the pull of entrepreneurship. Through his restaurant business, he has navigated challenges, learned valuable lessons, and shared unforgettable moments with customers. Join us as we delve into his experiences, including overcoming setbacks, tackling ongoing challenges, and planning for the future of his business.

Interviewee Name: Hamza Ben

Company: Beacherpa

Intervirew Host: Jesse Samberg

The Interview

Let’s get started. First, we’d like to know more about how you started your business journey

Hamza Ben : My journey into the business world began shortly after I completed my master’s degree and gained some experience working for an accounting firm. During my time as an employee, I increasingly felt that the traditional employment path was not for me. This feeling was strongly influenced by my education, having been raised by an entrepreneurial father, I was exposed to the world of entrepreneurship at a very young age. This background not only inspired me, but also gave me a strong desire to make my own way in the business world.
Empowered by this realization and my lifelong dream of being an entrepreneur, I decided to take a leap of faith. I quit my job at the accounting firm and struck out on my own as a restaurant owner. This decision marked the beginning of my journey into entrepreneurship, transitioning from the structured environment of employment to the dynamic and challenging world of running a business.

Reflecting on your business history, what stands out as the single greatest challenge you’ve successfully navigated, and how did you overcome it?

Hamza Ben : Throughout my business journey, I’ve faced numerous challenges, each of which has contributed to my growth and resilience. However, the biggest challenge that really stands out came two years after I opened my restaurant. I had signed a two-year contract with a manager who was considered an expert in the field and had been recommended by several friends. Unfortunately, his time with me proved to be detrimental to the success of the restaurant, as he made a number of poor decisions that caused the business to suffer significant setbacks.

By the end of his contract, the restaurant was facing several critical issues: we were thousands of dollars in debt, our customer base had nearly disappeared, and our menu was in desperate need of an update. Despite these daunting obstacles, the thought of quitting never crossed my mind. Instead, I decided to learn from this challenging experience.

First, I made the difficult decision to let the manager go at the end of his contract. Then I took a hands-on approach to turn the situation around. I worked closely with our chef to completely redesign the menu, focusing on innovation and quality to appeal to our customers’ evolving tastes. Recognizing the need to rebuild our customer base, I invested in marketing strategies that targeted businesses and business owners to cultivate a new and loyal clientele.

This strategic shift was not easy, but it was necessary. Through perseverance, adaptability and a clear vision, I was able to lead the restaurant out of debt and gradually build a solid customer base. It was a challenging transition, but overcoming it was one of the most rewarding accomplishments of my business career. This experience underscored the importance of resilience, strategic thinking, and the ability to learn from setbacks.

Businesses often face ongoing challenges. What does your business consistently grapple with, and how do you tackle these challenges head-on?

Hamza Ben : In the dynamic environment of running a restaurant, meeting challenges is a daily occurrence that has essentially become an integral part of our operations. Among the numerous hurdles we face, ensuring customer satisfaction with our food stands out as an ongoing challenge. Given the diverse tastes and preferences of our customers, along with their unique expectations for how certain dishes should be prepared and presented, it’s almost inevitable that we will encounter some level of dissatisfaction. Complaints can range from preparation style to portion size, which is a complex challenge given the subjective nature of taste and expectations.

Although the positive feedback far outweighs the negative, we take the critical reviews very seriously. Our philosophy is rooted in the belief that every customer deserves to leave our restaurant happy and satisfied. Therefore, addressing customer service issues is a priority in our strategy to meet these challenges.

Our approach to resolving dissatisfaction with food preparation or portion size is to communicate transparently with our customers. We take the time to explain that our ingredients are fresh and detail the care that goes into the preparation and presentation of each dish. We emphasize that our culinary style is unique to our restaurant and aim to set realistic expectations that while we strive to accommodate our customers’ preferences, there are aspects of our cooking and serving methods that remain constant.

Similarly, when faced with comments about portion sizes, we reiterate our commitment to quality and exceptional service, and clarify that our culinary standards and portioning are designed to ensure a balanced and satisfying dining experience, rather than focusing solely on quantity.

Despite our best efforts, we recognize that it’s not always possible to meet everyone’s expectations. However, maintaining our restaurant’s identity, consistency in our processes, and commitment to our culinary philosophy are essential. This consistency plays a crucial role in building trust with our customers and encouraging them to return. It is this balance of consistency in our identity and flexibility in responding to feedback that enables us to meet these ongoing challenges head on.

Can you share with us the most unforgettable story involving a customer or client? What made it memorable, and what lessons did you draw from the experience?

Hamza Ben : One of my most memorable customer stories involves a regular guest who came in for brunch and created a situation that left a lasting impression on me and provided valuable lessons. At the time, we had recently hired a new waiter who was still learning our procedures and customer preferences. Unfortunately, he was unaware that this particular customer had special dietary needs due to allergies and required certain ingredients to be substituted in her order.

Our policy requires that servers not change ingredients without supervisor approval to ensure that dietary restrictions are properly and safely accommodated. As a result, the waiter, strictly following protocol, refused to change her order, resulting in the customer’s disappointment and her decision to leave without eating.

When I heard about the incident from the waiter and realized who the customer was, I took immediate action. I personally contacted her to clear up the misunderstanding. Despite her unfortunate experience, she was remarkably understanding and continued to express her appreciation for our restaurant. She valued our commitment to quality so much that it overshadowed the mistake. I explained the situation, apologized, and offered her and her husband a complimentary brunch as a gesture of goodwill.

This incident was instructive in more ways than one. It underscored the importance of quality and consistency in our offerings, and demonstrated that these elements can create such a strong connection with our customers that they are willing to overlook occasional mistakes. It also highlighted the need for clear communication and flexibility, especially when it comes to accommodating customers’ health-related needs.

Looking ahead, what are your current plans for your business when you retire?

Hamza Ben : While retirement is not on my immediate horizon, I have given considerable thought to the future of my restaurant and its continued growth. I am passionate about expanding our reach by opening additional franchises across the country. This ambition is driven by a desire to share our culinary experience with a broader audience, bringing the unique flavors and atmosphere of our restaurant to new communities.

Having grown up in a family business, it’s natural for me to envision my children taking on leadership roles in the future. Entrepreneurship is a trait that runs deep in our family, and I am confident in their ability to lead the restaurant to continued success. My hope is that they will inherit not only the responsibility of running the business, but also the passion and dedication that have been its foundation.

Navigating the small business landscape can be both challenging and rewarding. Can you share a bit about the specific hurdles you’ve encountered in areas like sales, marketing, and adapting to changing customer trends?

Hamza Ben : In the restaurant business, understanding customer behavior is a constant challenge due to its ever-changing nature. This unpredictability has a significant impact on our sales, with certain seasons experiencing higher demand than others. To manage this, we’ve implemented strategic social media promotions to increase engagement. For example, we run monthly giveaways where winners receive a $50 gift card, which effectively increases our restaurant’s traffic, reach and engagement. Additionally, during the winter months, we offer 10% to 20% discounts on home delivery to encourage customers to enjoy our meals from the comfort of their own homes. These promotions are critical to maintaining sales during slow periods and maximizing revenue during peak times.

Our marketing strategies are closely aligned with our sales goals. Through the use of promotions and social media engagement, we aim to maintain a steady flow of customers throughout the year. This requires careful planning and execution of marketing campaigns that resonate with our target audience and ensure that our restaurant remains a top choice for dining, regardless of the season.

Keeping up with customer trends is another challenge. To ensure that our offerings remain relevant and appealing, we have adopted a flexible approach to menu design. Our menu is designed to accommodate a wide range of tastes and dietary preferences, and we make it a point to update it every two years to reflect new trends and customer feedback. We also refresh our restaurant’s interior design every two years to maintain a modern and inviting atmosphere. This commitment to innovation and adaptability helps us stay ahead of industry trends and meet our customers’ evolving expectations.

Leaders Perception magazine would like to thank Hamza Ben and “Beacherpa” for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!

Interested in connecting with the host of this interview series? Feel free to reach out to Jesse Samberg on LinkedIn: Jesse Samberg’s LinkedIn Profile

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