Success Story: Q&A with Mushtaq’s, Glasgow

Here at hungryhouse we like to celebrate success so we chatted to former business consultant turned restaurant guru Ajmal Mushtaq of Mushtaq's, Glasgow to find out the ingredients of a really successful restaurant.
February 19, 2015 | by | ,

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Thank you for talking to us Ajmal! Tell us a little bit about Mushtaqs.

Mushtaqs is a multi–award winning restaurant in Glasgow. It has been open 4 years. We had 7 employees on day one and this year the team size will grow to 84. The success is driven by the fact we don’t follow the crowd. For example, we don’t open at lunchtimes and we have only 10 dishes on the menu — this is unheard of in an Indian restaurant!

Mushtaqs recently created 50 new jobs with great emphasis on training new staff. Why do you think this is important and how has it benefited your business?

Our success is driven by our team. When you cook and deliver the volumes of food we do, the team has to work in perfect harmony. Providing great training is also great for staff retention & morale — we have a wait- ing list of people who wish to join Mushtaqs. I spend 10% of my working week on staff training and this results in a consistently high standard of service.

Is there a key to running a successful restaurant business?

Yes. You have to provide excellent food for every customer, every time. Then you must have great service. Great service includes being consistently good, and having well trained staff. Once you have this strong foundation it becomes easier to attract more customers.

Spend time promoting your business I always say ‘there’s no point doing a good job if no- one knows about it’. We spend a lot of time promoting the business via a number of channels.

Set growth targets. When I consult restaurants I am amazed if a business has not set growth targets. If you have specific targets — such as 20% increase in annual sales — it helps you focus and make the right decisions, giving you a better chance of meeting your targets.

Do you have any tips for restaurateurs look- ing to improve the profitability of their business without cost cutting impacting quality?

Look at every single part of your business that does NOT add value to your customer. I would strongly suggest that every business owner looks at every business cost and renegotiates it with suppliers. Mushtaqs managed to save over £11,000 over the year and it never impacted quality.

Here are a few examples to consider:

Alarm Contract: Mushtaqs had no extra call outs in three years and no incidents over past 10 years. We opted to reduce the service from gold (£600) to basic (£250). Mushtaqs sits on the main commercial road in town that is covered by CCTV. A reduction in service was a calculated risk worth taking. Saved £350

Waste Contract: When was the last time you looked inside your bins? Is the rubbish being disposed of effectively? Our six wheelie bins were uplifted twice weekly. This was reduced to two large 660ltr bins with 1.5 up- lifts. Saved £1100

Electricity & Gas: Do you know when your contract period ends? Commercial companies tend to lock you into long contracts and present you a very short window to change your tariff. Look out for this three-week window and push for the most competitive rate. Total saved £3900

Visa/Switch Payments: This was by far the easiest discount to obtain. One short phone call and the company were very happy to apply a 15% average discount across all types of transactions. Saved £900

Insurance: Save as you would when buying normal house or car insurance. Business insur- ance seems to more difficult to shop around for, but it is getting simpler with companies such as Direct Line. Saved £300

How has online ordering changed the way your business works?

Online ordering has been great for both customers and restaurants. As we know, it takes time to answer a phone call and process the order. Online is a great added dimension to our business as we get the orders without having to do any of the work. This saves on labour and is good for profits.

You have a 29 minute delivery promise, has this had a positive impact on your order volume and customer feedback?

The 29 minute delivery promise has had a positive impact on the business from a customer’s point of view and it has increased the number of orders.

To ensure we could keep the promise, we delivered every meal within 29 minutes for 6 months before we started to publicise it. Making a delivery time promise could work wonders for any business, but it could also ruin your reputation if you fail to deliver to even a small number of customers. If you make a promise — you must keep it. Simple.

Want to share your success story? Email:

Alexandra Abdulova
Marketing Officer at hungryhouse