RATIONAL India started with a 5-member team and now has taken over the industry with its world-class combi ovens and other kitchen technologies. What sales and marketing strategy helped you take this giant leap?
Vikram Goel: At RATIONAL, we follow a philosophy of customer benefit where we always try to understand the challenges faced by the customers in their commercial kitchen and offer them a suitable solution for it. In our 10 years of presence in the Indian market, we have also worked towards carrying forward our core philosophy by making customers aware of the benefits of combi-steamer technology.
Our focused market approach helped us with a strong sales presence in the following cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. With our robust street sales strategy, we reached out to every potential customer who was producing more than 30 meals a day. We also worked towards creating a strong brand presence at relevant exhibitions and culinary events. All this backed by a strong dealer network across the country, chef network to adapt to local cuisine (including development & training of existing customers), and extensive service network through independent service partners to provide global standard service experience has helped us immensely to grow our business in India.
Which food trials techniques RATIONAL India uses to serve its client with the best output?
Vikram Goel:We see ourselves as intelligent solution providers and not just as commercial equipment manufacturers. Firstly, we identify the key challenges of our customers by understanding their operation model and then offer application support to translate their production from traditional methods to automation via the use of technology. Secondly, we have 2 fully functional state-of-the-art test kitchens in our corporate office in Gurugram and 25 other at different sites across India to support food trials. Prospect clients can come and have live demos in these kitchens. There are 21 chefs stationed across the country who offer support for food trials. And finally, we are backed by a strong R&D team from Germany in case of any complexities. So it is a fool-proof client servicing chain that RATIONAL has in place.
In the present era, restaurants are opting for compact but fully equipped kitchens, as the real estate cost is touching skies. Is this a challenge for your products?
Vikram Goel: RATIONAL products are designed and built keeping in mind the changing times. We have the largest R&D team in the world in this industry comprising of chefs, food scientists, physicists, and engineers who work closely across markets to gather market intelligence on new trends, challenges in kitchens and then work together to translate the same into our product.
Our leading product RATIONAL SelfCookingCenter® can take care of 90% of all common cooking processes, that too within a space of 1m2. It, therefore, helps save time, energy, space and labour cost. In the past few years, many facets of the food industry have already shifted to adapt to new technology, this is also attributed to the increasing demand for hygienic food by consumers.
Post-COVID, the demand for automated multipurpose equipment in commercial kitchens is likely to increase drastically to cope up with stringent safety and hygiene norms that will be in place to prevent any food contamination. We have already seen queries increasing in the past months.
For over 7 years you had been associated with RATIONAL India as the Sales director, now you are leading the organisation. Has your Sales experience helped you in driving RATIONAL India towards new heights and milestones?
Vikram Goel: Sales only help in generating revenue, but leadership requires much more than that. Of course, it has been a great transition from being a salesperson to leading an organisation. To see RATIONAL grow from one milestone to another has been rewarding and I would say the journey has just begun. RATIONAL’s philosophy of offering solutions to its customers is deeply embedded in our core DNA which helps us to differentiate ourselves from any other sales organization. Adapting myself to a solution-based approach towards my customers and not just focusing on product selling is something which I have learnt at RATIONAL and is perhaps the pillar of success.
Cloud kitchens are trending and in-demand nowadays, how are you strategizing your R&D for products to reach out to the owners of cloud kitchens?
Vikram Goel: We have already created inroads within this segment and currently, RATIONAL units are being used by all major cloud kitchen players in the market. This success was important for us as the new players always look for references within already established market players. So, for us, the first battle is won. We also constantly keep engaging with new players through our strong street sales strategy and are strongly supported by our local dealers and planners. Thereafter, demonstration sessions are conducted so that the new players are aware of the benefits of RATIONAL products.
What role does CRM play in the success of the brand and your journey?
Vikram Goel: We are one of the pioneers within our industry to use CRM to manage our sales process successfully. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as a tool is used in a lot of sales organizations but none have used it as effectively as RATIONAL. CRM is the backbone of our sales process. I can easily say that we as a company would have the best customer data across the globe in the industry. We use the system to qualify the customer and to understand its potential, to carry all sales, marketing & service activities, the system also guides us effectively to build on our future long term business strategies.
As home bakers and chefs are emerging, how are you strategizing your operations to reach out to them as well?
Vikram Goel: At present, this is not our target segment as we only target commercial kitchens.
Rational is known for updating its product range from time to time, any new product launch plan in the nearby future?
Vikram Goel: RATIONAL products have evolved a lot since its inception in 1976, and have regularly been adding innovation to make our products the best in the market. We were the first in the industry to combine steam and dry heat for cooking and our products have been very well received across the globe. We have over 1000 chefs working with us worldwide to try and understand the unique requirements of each region and address them accordingly.
In 2004, we were the first to introduce touch panels with SelfCookingCenter®. Then in 2008, we introduced automatic cleaning technology in our combi-ovens, which was again a first in the industry. Later in 2014, we had the SelfCookingCenter® 5 Senses. This unit senses, recognizes, learns, thinks ahead and communicates with its user. In 2016, we launched our smallest unit XS. Our latest innovation is ‘ConnectedCooking’, in which the chef can virtually access and monitor their unit from their smartphones and laptops without being physically present near the unit. At RATIONAL, innovation is a way of life.
Please share a few tips for the emerging chefs who are looking to be part of RATIONAL India in their future?
Vikram Goel: Develop capabilities to adapt to changing times and keep yourself updated on the latest trends because consumers are eager to experiment with food. Travel and explore cuisines, be traditional in your recipes but tweak in modern methods of cooking. Replicate your traditional cuisine with methods which are efficient and help businesses to be profitable and scalable. Be true to fine taste yet be experimental with the flavors.
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