Foreign delicacies are getting very popular in Taiwan. There are increasing amount of international restaurants expanding their businesses here, most of which hold distinguishing features. The newly opened restaurant Hai Di Lao（海底撈）also has huge impact and make the competition in hotpot business more fierce. Hai Di Lao hot pot has introduced a variety of special and first ever services to Taiwan that have drawn customers’ curiosity, ranging from manicure and even shoe polishing and more. Such services have not yet been in Taiwanese restaurants. What do Taiwanese people think about it? Is Hai Di Lao’s commercial method going to work in Taiwan?
Hai Di Lao: Grand Opening in Taiwan
Established in 1994 in Sichuan, Hai Di Lao has a great number of chain restaurants all over China, Korea, Singapore and even the United States. It is best known for its excellent service quality. Hai Di Lao, gives customers many surprises, offers free manicures, shoe polishing and massage for customers who are waiting for tables. What’s more, it also features the renowned traditional Sichuan Face Change（變臉）performance. “I came at about five o’ clock and waited approximately three hours to get a seat. The food reminds me of my hometown,” said Yu-qing Wu（吳宇清）, a customer of Hai Di Lao. He added, “The good service is phenomenal, making itself a great success in Taiwan, where service is the top priority in all business. Consequently, food in Hai Di Lao is generally more expensive than that in the other hotpot restaurants in Taiwan.”
As a Hai Di Lao enthusiast, Si-ting Wang（王思婷）, mentioned that the items on the menu in the branch in Taipei are different from the original ones offered in Mainland China. However, this doesn’t reduce her love to the spicy hotpot. In addition to the competition of Taiwan hotpot market, an increasing number of foreign hotpot restaurants have also joined the battle. It is truly making an impact on hotpot stores. On the other hand, not all foreign restaurants are successful. Every business has its own signature features. Different diet habits and food preferences affect the customers’ choices. One thing is certain, the battle of the hotpot market goes on without a question.
Domestic Perspectives: Hai Di Lao Hotpot in The Eyes of Taiwanese People
Speaking of the good quality services in the restaurants in Taiwan, the Wowprime Corporations（王品集團）undoubtedly comes into mind. Its hotpot restaurant, Gi Hokkaido Konbu hotpot restaurant（聚北海道昆布鍋）, dedicates to bringing the best services to customers.
Contrary to Gi, Yan-ming Chiu（邱彥明）, the restaurant manager of Gi, considers that those special services from Hai Di Lao do not provide customers good dining experiences but simply make them less bored during the waiting time. Gi instead, underscores the services of actual dining situation. Table service is an important feature in Gi. For instance, waiters and waitresses in Gi would change and tidy up the table immediately after customers eat their food and different size of plates would be provided to suit each customer’s orders.
“We value our customers the most.” Chiu said. Unlike the various kinds of sauces in Hai Di Lao hotpot, Gi offers only two types of dipping sauces, Chiu added, “It is handmade and the materials are all natural and healthy, no preservatives added.” Chiu also said, “The benefits of only two sauces also can control the taste that Gi wishes to present to customers.”
“The first three months is a critical period that can determine whether a restaurant is accepted by the local customers,” Chiu reminded. After all, Hai Di Lao hotpot is a chain restaurant originated from China, customers may have different dining habits and tastes. If the restaurant does not master well the major two factors, the fever and phenomenon might simply die out fast in time.
Winning The Battle: Key Strategies for Restaurants to Stand Out
“People might think that opening a hot pot restaurant is easy,” Charles Tsai（蔡瀚毅）, a.k.a（查理王）, a well known food and travel blogger, writer, also the senior director of Community Development Department of Xin Media（欣媒體）,said, “From choosing ingredients to staff trainings, each part requires professional knowledge. If the restaurant fails to satisfy customers, people would simply walk away since there are still lots of choices out there.”
Facing numerous competitors, a restaurant should try to bring satisfaction to their picky diners if they want to keep their business running. Tsai points out that customers usually choose restaurants based on these four prerequisites: “Fresh ingredients, comfortable dining environment, services, as well as low price but with high food quality. Although it’s difficult to take care of everything, owners can adopt the concept of product differentiation（產品差異化）and distinguish a service from others, making their restaurant more attractive to the target customers . For instance, some all-you-can-eat hotpot restaurants offer prime beef, the highest quality beef, while others provide multiple types of broths and sauces; some may even offer novelty service, such as nail polishing, which allow these restaurants to stand out among the crowd. “Despite the fact that marketing and services is important, in the end, customers will still focus on the quality of food. Thus, we should pay more attention to the food itself, then we can create some methods to boost the business”, Tsai suggests.
Customers: The Talisman to Success.
The popular trend of hotpot craving in Taiwan makes the service industry increasingly competitive. A vast variety of restaurants of this kind have attracted a great number of customers among all ages. The choices of customers depend on many factors. Facing the fierce competition, restaurants can do a better job to please their customers with good taste of food. It is true that most customers come to a restaurant because of their service. To the catering industry, the best way to attract customers is through their delicious food. Appetizing food is the talisman to success. Customers tend to try fresh foreign stores out of curiosity, and they would always be the answer towards future expansion and growth of a restaurant.