COFFEE – The mere mention of this 2 syllable word brings an aura of its aroma to the olfactory organ. It stimulates the taste buds. Needless to say that slouching in an easy chair, a cup of South Indian filter coffee and the morning newspaper go hand in hand. Sipping a hot cup of coffee is an emotion for most of us Indians.
The coffee plant was discovered around 800AD and since then there has been constant innovation around the product. There are humungous health benefits related to consumption of coffee. It slows the progress of dementia, it safeguards the liver, promotes heart health and lowers mortality risk.
Just as International Coffee Day was observed on 1st October, we have a gripping tale of the man behind the brand “The South Indian Coffee House”. This brand needs no introduction.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES
Mr.Amarnath was born and brought up in an agricultural family in Kangeyam, a small town in Tiruppur district. He had an advantage of not being a first-gen entrepreneur. His inspiration and pillar of support is his father whom he hails and adores. He was always included in his father’s ventures right from his childhood – be it accounts, packaging, logistics or sales. He even reminisces that he used to sell guavas from his farm.
MY PROTAGONIST – MY FATHER
Mr. Amar’s dad was a visionary and forward-thinker in many ways than one.
His father was a pioneer in bringing fly ash bricks to TN. He was an avant-gardist in selling 1 rupee sachets of gingelly oil that were used for lighting lamps in temples in TN. This veteran was also the first trailblazer to bring AGMARK license for 1 rupee oil sachets & packaged coconut oil. No wonder, Mr. Amar shows so much of his father’s traits.
Mr.Amar was actively in sales right from the age of 7. He was raised street smart.
He completed schooling in Kangeyam. He completed his engineering degree in Computer Science at Trichy due to his father’s wishes. He started working in Chennai soon after his under graduation.
Interestingly, he worked with BYJU Raveendran for a brief period.
He completed MBA from IIPM. He learnt industry experience regarding sales & marketing during PG days. He is also a gold medalist and was recruited at Naukri.com (sales profile & achieved targets easily). He says that his only intention was always to start a business and that he took up a job just to gain hands on knowledge about the market.
FROM EMPLOYEE TO EMPLOYER
From the horse’s mouth – “To find out what you love doing is very difficult. It may take a moment for some or quite some years for many. Most people don’t even realize that they don’t love what they do.”
STARTED THE FIRST COFFEE KIOSK IN ERODE
In 2014, he didn’t have much savings. He was advised to take a franchise for a coffee shop by a comrade.
As the adage goes, “ Failure is the stepping stone to success”, Mr. Amar is quite quirky when he says, “Fortunately, it was a drastic failure”. The learning curve started from there.
His meeting with Mr. Chandramohan of Hatsun was the game-changer. Mantra learnt from him- “Location is a very important aspect in the retail market.”
It took quite some time for him to understand this. He was surprised that his target customers did not turn up to his kiosk though he gave best quality & service. It took a lot of determination and commitment for him to understand and rectify this issue.
It is quite cinematic when he jokingly says that his first 3 employees betrayed him on the 1st day of his 1st start-up. As life always throws up surprises, he was hand-down on the floor for promoting & serving customers. He identified & trained his employees for his brand.
What an irony that the owner of a chain of coffee shops does not drink coffee!
MY BRAND – MY LIFELINE
He started his brand with a very fascinating & catchy name. He along with his wife floated a Pvt. Ltd. Co.
Deleting all the probabilities of failure, he came up with a success formula.
He started back in 2017. Now, the brand houses 15 branches in Coimbatore & 2 in Chennai –All company owned, company operated outlets. He states that each and every day you have to work on the cost & sales.
He says that investment in a coffee shop is much lesser than investing in a restaurant. So, new players keep pitching in every now and then and they become competitors.
“We have NO USP. Our motto is to give Good coffee, Good service, Good location and best possible price ”says Mr.Amar.
SECRET OF SUCCESS – how does he keep his coffee brewing?
Their star product was ‘Ragi vada’ in their initial years. Nobody could replicate it. The raw materials were procured and ground by them.
The key is to do extraordinary things using ordinary people.
SENSE OF SATISFACTION
Mr. Amar has never related himself with his brand. Whenever he was in his outlet, no one but his employees knew that he is the CEO. He always felt happy when someone spoke to him about his brand. He genuinely saw it as a justification for his business.
When asked about what he wishes to say young entrants into this industry, he quickly gives his view points.
Either by chance or design, you cannot make quick bucks in the retail Food & Beverage industry. Despite the fact that your idea and strategy is great, one has to be patient. Work on indirect expenses, opportunity cost , volumes and service. Contemplate on the support system you get when you take up a franchise.
Mr.Amar associates with kaizen and says that the bench mark is yet to be reached. They are still working on improvising the services at their stores.
Mr.Amar draws inspiration from Mr.Sivaganesh, owner (Sreedevi textiles, Coimbatore). He says that ‘ his service’ is unmatched in the industry.
Just as Robert Frost says, “ And miles to go before I sleep” , so does Mr.Amar. He found his goal in life and was obsessed about reaching it. I wish him EX(s)PRESS(o) success in all his upcoming endeavors.