Dancing Crab, a Louisiana-style eatery, was crowned the overall winner in the ‘Promising Franchisor of the Year’ category in the recent FLA awards 2015. Within one short year, Dancing Crab has expanded to five locations, including Tokyo, Osaka, Sumatra, with an outlet in Australia scheduled to open in 2016. Said Norman Hartono, General Manager of Dancing Crab, “Winning the overall ‘Promising Franchisor of the Year’ award was unexpected and it is a huge encouragement to know that we are heading in the right direction. When I began in this line, I did not know anything about franchising and licensing at all, but have FLA to thank for providing me with invaluable lessons to kick-start this journey. My advice to anyone looking to develop his or her brand into a franchise is to not give up. Singapore is a tough market but continue persevering and you can go anywhere in the world.”
Franchise Asia had more questions for Norman Hartono in this interview.
Can you name some of the factors that contributed to Dancing Crab’s exciting growth?
Some factors that have contributed to the growth of Dancing Crab’s brand could be attributed to our unique franchise model as well as the support of a central kitchen.
Unlike other franchise models that require ingredients and core items to be produced and purchased from the main franchisor, we tailor each outlet to suit the local food climate and use local ingredients to maintain the freshness and sustainability of both the food and business of our franchisees. Locally in Singapore, we have the support of a central kitchen that produces our core selling items to maintain food consistency and to help ease our manpower needs.
How does Dancing Crab stand out from the competitors?
Although the eating style of the Cajun seafood concept is already unique on its own, we still treat ourselves as a serious restaurant where food quality and service is paramount over everything else. That is why every outlet sells only the freshest seafood as well as authentic Cajun/Creole favorites such as gumbo, jambalaya and po’ boys, amongst others, that stand up to those found in New Orleans.
What are some of the setbacks and challenges faced by Dancing Crab when starting out in franchising? And how did you overcome them?
One challenge we faced during the starting phases of franchising Dancing Crab was to create scalability for the brand and the product of Dancing Crab. We tried to mass produce our core products, but the quality was not up to our standards. As a result, we decided to tailor each franchise by using the local ingredients and produce available from our franchisees to create the exact same taste found in any Dancing Crab outlet in the world.
If you had to start over, would you do anything differently?
No, I would not.
What is in the pipeline for Dancing Crab?
Next in the pipeline would be for us to expand the brand further into more countries, as well as to help develop our current overseas partners into master franchisees where they are able to independently take on and expand within their respective regions.
What would your advice be for someone starting off in the franchise business?
Do not ever compromise on the core concept of your business, keep evolving your brand and keep it simple to increase the scalability of your franchise.