As Global Operations Director at The Social Company, Scott Ashby oversees performance of all existing businesses as well as managing all new builds and launches on behalf of the company. The Social Company has its hands in restaurants on five continents, either as owner/operator or as a consulting partner. Alongside Chef Jason Atherton, the creative power behind the business, Ashby has worked on seven restaurant openings including the team’s most recent in Sydney, Australia.
START WITH A STRONG FOUNDATION
Jason has developed this business by continuing to be a tremendously passionate and driven individual. His whole focus since the start has been about developing standards, pushing the boundaries, and investing in people. This puts us in a position where we can recruit, train, and develop some of the best skills in the industry.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
We look at each potential business opportunity that crosses our path and pick and choose what we feel is right. Jason presents his case: is there opportunity in the market? What will the stylisation be? What gap will it fill? What will the food offering be? We sit down, review it, do competitive analysis, and make a decision.
THEN DO MORE RESEARCH
For example, we had a fantastic opportunity to go to Sydney. First, we visit to understand the space and the market, test the local competition, and see what the standard is like in any given town. By the end of that first visit, we come back with a strategic plan of what we think are the big wins and what we think are the real strategic areas that we need to make it work. This process takes the better part of 12 months between first site visit and mobilisation. We go through a host of steps to make sure we’re ready.
CONSIDER PRACTICAL LOGISTICS
Another example: we recently opened in the Philippines, in Cebu. We knew that Cebu is a completely diversified location. What we do is so different from anything else they’ve got; we’ve taken a London-based international brand to the Philippines. We always recruit the senior team first. We try to open up international opportunities for management and key personnel who have worked in our business.
We feel that gives us the foundation of the brand and what’s important when we send them out. They train in London, we send them over, and they start the recruitment exercise. In Cebu, the dedication of the staff, their approach, the competence, and the desire and passion to learn was superb. The staff have all of what we looked for in application and attitude, but we did have to deal with comprehension and needed to review the way we train.
ALLOW FOR CHANGE
There will always be 10 to 20 percent fine tuning and aligning to the local market to make sure everything works and translates in the right way. That can be small things in terms of service steps; what is appropriate in London is different than Australia. What they do in Australia is something New Yorkers don’t expect.
Photos courtesy of Scott Ashby and The Social Company
OpenTable partnered with Kristen Hawley, founder of the popular Chefs + Tech newsletter, to create How to Grow & Thrive in the Restaurant Business e-book, the ultimate guide to serving guests and growing your business at every phase of a restaurant’s lifecycle. We’re sharing excerpts from each stage. Want to know more tips on changing and expanding your business? Download the guide and visit page 24 – 41 for more.