The project plan - Intro
Our commision was to rethink Ähtäri Zoo’s food and beverage services. We began by creating ways to follow up on our project.
At the start of our project, we began by creating a Google Docs to write down approximately in which time frame we should work in. Later on, we decided to track our progress by using a more visual tool, Meistertask. We had a meeting each week and continuously discussed our progress on Facebook Messenger.
Our process was continuous and creative ideas flew in each meeting. Our personal goal was to do something unique but also profitable. We wanted the restaurants themselves to add to the attractivity of Ähtäri Zoo and give more reasons for people to come. This is how we came up with the concept of Taikametsä. We wanted to have one “main” restaurant where we would have a true restaurant experience. We got inspiration from the rainforest café and other theme restaurants.
We divided roles as they would help us divide our tasks. Janina became our project manager, being in charge of keeping the project on time and running. Noora was our imagineering expert, as she had previous experience of studying this. Matteo was assigned as our marketing/creative director, due to his knowledge in marketing. Sang was our financial genius, being in charge of the budget. Jonna’s task was to keep up with the communications of the group, therefore she was assigned as the communications manager. Ha, who joined later on, became our staff master. Her responsibility was the staff plan.
In the end, everyone ended up helping each other out and also managing to do their assigned tasks. All in all we were very happy with our team and worked together very well.
Food & Beverage plan
Ähtäri Hall, for the customer, is either the first or the last touch point they have in the Ähtäri Zoo. This is why the atmosphere of Ähtäri Hall is must be emphasised. The slogan of Ähtäri is "where the nature meets you".
The ambiance of Ähtäri Hall is created by the birch tree interior and the continuous chirping of birds given by an audio system. The plant interior inside Taikametsä and Ähtäri hall are an essential part of our plan. They create continuity and emphasise the Finland meets Asia aspect.
Ähtäri Hall’s main products are healthy to go food items in themed boxes and memorabilia. The healthy to go foods are a way to create more revenue by offering the customers healthy options. This is attractive to families and individuals whose values are on healthy living. It will also attract commuters travelling through Finland.
The themed to go boxes are an eyecatcher and therefore work as a marketing tool. Memorabilia, like bamboo straws, are used as an additional marketing tool and revenue stream. They create more value to the experience and work as a reminder for the guest about the zoo. Other example of memorabilia are the already offered animal plushes, panda shaped lunch boxes and reusable to go coffee cups.
Our food and beverage project plan includes Café Mustikki which is the home animal farm. Cafè Mustikki will provide special do-it-yourself fruit packs to Ähätäri visitors with pre-cut fruits. In these packs, visitors will find instructions to get the fruit to look like animals. This type of service will provide an experience and a feeling of togetherness as people need to help each other to create their fruit-animal.
Example of Do-it-yourself fruit packs at Cafè Mustikki
Cafè Mustikki will also provide pancakes and waffles with homemade jam, possibly from berries collected nearby. Ice cream will be sold as well as a high quality filtered coffee, freshly grounded on the spot. As mentioned above, the idea of togetherness plays a key role and shape the whole experience. In addition, the meaning of togetherness (“Yhdessä olo”) is strictly linked to Finland’s 100-year celebration.
Cafè Kouvo will provide high-quality coffee, local bakery goods, high-quality ice cream (e.g. kolme kaveria) or a homemade ice-cream. In addition, at Cafè Kouvo, visitors will have the possibility to find healthier options as well. As a matter of fact, this list of choices will include fresh fruits, smoothies, freshly pressed juices or blueberry juices (e.g. from local blueberries). Other options will include sandwiches and finally, Finnish berry wines. As many visitors want to enjoy high quality goods, Cafè Kouvo is expected to meet their needs.
Ähtäri Zoo is the perfect place for a themed experience focused restaurant as people come to Ähtäri Zoo for a fun, exciting and educational day together with their loved-ones. Having a restaurant to support these feelings and ideas would not only contribute positively to the consumer experience and feelings towards Ähtäri Zoo, but also in terms of revenue and business growth. Having a restaurant that will attract customers with its speciality during both low and high seasons will most definitely have a positive influence on the revenues gathered. Taikametsä is this restaurant.
Taikametsä is about more than just a meal, more than a quick meaningless bite before heading back home from the Zoo. It can be the highlight of the day on its own or better yet accompanied with the visit to the Zoo. It aims to surprise in a positive way, leave the consumers with something they will remember even for years to come and encourage them to share their memories of the great time they had at Ähtäri Zoo and Taikametsä to friends, family and new acquaintances. It’s all about engaging all of the five senses with its interior design aesthetics, sounds of nature, delicate tastes and scents of finnish-asian fusion cuisine without forgetting the aspect of tangibility through memorabilia, entertainment and furniture.
The interior design is inspired by the natural habitat of the pandas, hence having the feeling of being in midst nature as that is where the true beauty of the surroundings lies. To enhance the positive cues of the theme, the restaurant is decorated with details made of bamboo, as well as other details such as plants or decoration that can be linked to the idea of nature and pandas for this particular panda focused concept. The details and decorations can be changed and updated along with the theme, hence they’ll be in a minor role at the restaurant.
Examples for Interior design
To make the customer journey and experience as smooth and easy-going as possible, especially during the high season when the restaurants are full and the waiting times for food are less pleasant, some cost-friendly tactics to decrease the annoyance would be used. As waiting for the food to arrive can be a challenge for kids and adults all alike, having for example ancient Asian stories and tales printed on leaflets on the tables to entertain the customers while waiting for the food is a great way to both enforce the theme and diminish the negative aspect of waiting hungrily for the food.
The staff is at great importance here, as with their service the stories come to life and have a meaning. For example there is a tale of the bamboo cutter which in short tells the story of the life of a mysterious girl who was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant. The waiters can chat with the customers about the tales, add facts that weren’t mentioned in the leaflet, enriching the story and making the service interaction more personal and meaningful for the customer. The waiters could also engage the customers in a conversation about the pandas, talking about their personalities, their favourite things, what makes them happy or what funny incidents have happened lately with them more in-depth. The interaction wouldn’t have to be long as there are duties to fulfil and tasks to take care of, but the idea is to initiate a conversation with the customers, share more personal information about the animals and in the end wow the customers with the service they receive.
To provide memorabilia and delight associated with Ähtäri and Taikametsä, the first drinks at Taikametsä would be served with bamboo straws varying from the amount of 1 to 3, so the drinks at the tables would have randomly chosen number of the straws. In China Lucky Bamboo plants and stalks have been given as a gift for centuries as the plants hold a specific meaning in Feng Shui. Different amount of stalks represents different positive meanings, such as one stalk foresees simplicity and a meaningful life, two stalks are predicting the best of luck in love and marriage and the three stalks are about overall happiness in life.
The catch is that the bamboo stalks have to be received as a gift for the good luck to come to you, hence asking for them or buying them on your own wouldn’t work. If the customers want, they have the option to take the cleaned re-usable straws home with them after the restaurant visit. The staff is the key to success with this as well as they can educate the customers and inform the them about the meaning of the straws, hopefully positively surprising them.
Having such memorabilia works wonders on word-of-mouth and seconds as promotional material as the customers might share their stories of Ähtäri visit for their guests when they see the straws at home. Cost-wise the purchasing price of the bamboo straws would be included in the prices of the menu to avoid losses for the restaurant.
Considering the longevity of this restaurant concept, for the future any major changes wouldn’t be necessary as with just shifting the focus to details and changing for example the stories, memorabilia, the menu or the “theme” from pandas to other animals of the zoo, the customer experience can be altered and a sense of newness offered for the consumers.
Menu example for Taikametsä
For our service path at Ähtäri we decided to focus on family persona. In this case we have the Nieminen family from Nokia. This family has 3 children and a middle-class income.
This family decides to come to Ähtäri with another family to have a fun activity filled day during the weekend. They arrive with their own cars, well prepared with a schedule and some snacks to keep the kids energetic throughout the day.
The parents want to spend some time together and chat while the kids are participating in activities after the Zoo tour. The aim is to experience a day that will be remembered long after the visit, filled with pictures, laughter and relaxation. No stress.
Wants & Needs
- High quality
- A lot of pictures & memorabilia
- Easiness, stress-free
- Ability to plan and schedule
- Real-time checking of what is happening --> avoid traffic, notifications
- Dietary restrictions of the youngest son
- All day on the move --> driving from Nokia to Ähtäri and back
- A large party on the go --> together with another family
- Crankiness of the eldest kid
- Short attention spam of the kids
Family persona at the F&B services
Units budgets are believed to be one of our most concerns in planning and reviewing the finances, because from here we will be able to show that our careful accounting plan will make the new concepts feasible. These budget charts below represent our analysis of how money are expected to be spent in future. Depends on the concept and the opening hours, the expected needs and money are carefully outlined in order to suit the concept of new units. Besides, it is believed to help the owners with managing time to spend creating and managing capital resources.
Since the busiest season for any leisure service business is summer, they will choose their fiscal year starts from October to next year’s September. The reason is after September, most of the revenues would be received. In our case, we will plan our budget after March, starting from April.
Making profit with Cafè Mustikki
Below is our prediction of how much money the newly-created café Mustikki will receive and how much it will spend over the season. We expect that the money will be spent less than the revenues received.
This café will be open everyday in the period from 9 of June to 13th of August, while the rest of years open only in weekends. Because only in the weekend, the family with kids or single guests could have their free time to visit for quality personal time. According to the zoo’s opening hours, we assume that this year 2017 the café is to be open 66 days in predicted high-season, and the rest of the year weekends are the opening time, 29 weekends plus 2 weekends days is 89 days. In total, this year we have 155 days of service. After the revenue calculated, all the indirect costs of operating this café Mustikki are added.
This restaurant themes on Asian styles, which focuses on Asian travelers and locals that are interested in mixed Asian-Finnish cuisines. We strongly suggest to arrange new sets of bamboo-made furniture to create an interesting atmosphere in this wild land. However, there are also several options of furniture that can fit to the bamboo design restaurant, for example this iron furniture set shall not take much space and easy for coffee gathering meeting, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Another trend is the bamboo folding table with chairs, might look simple but easy to use and eye-catching (we can view here.)
One set including 4 seats costs 40USD, and if we buy with big amount from wholesalers the price would be negotiated. It is also negotiable to request the suppliers for the long table design which is suitable for family/big group of 8 people. We would advise 3 long tables which accounts 24 seats, and 12 sets of 4-seat tables, then the cost of new furniture ranges around 690USD to 750USD (negotiable). One of the advantage is the eco-friendliness with environment due to the bamboo use, but the disadvantage might be the quality, so they shall depreciate in 3 to 5 years’ term and we need to store available sets to replace (in case of damage).
Another interesting set of tables & chairs like this, ranges from 4000USD to 5000USD. They are of better quality and firm. There is a lot of interesting unique design of bamboo furniture, so best possibility is to order from country that have available sources of bamboo and cheap labor so they can design the products match our needs, such as VietNam, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia.
Ähtäri Hall brings profit due to its concept
Being considered as the national tree of Finland (Wikipedia, Culture), birch is easily encountered in the Finnish’s nature. However, bringing the concept of a whole birch forest into the café/ restaurant might arouse the curiosity of people who simply love nature. We are looking to deliver the natural green element into the house. How can we do that? There is already birch tree concept applied in restaurant in Germany and UK. If we copy the style of it, then we need the permission of cutting/harvesting the good old tree, or buy from a source that provides. The cost needs to be negotiated between the two parties.
Cafe Kouvo's numbers
Cafe Kouvo is a healthy eating concept with snacks at a reasonable price. Usually the alcohol sales in restaurant might be much higher, but we believe that the limitation for each person is needed in order to get the guests to continue with their routine as zoo visitors. The berry wines are expected to be a flash to emphasize Finnish alcohol culture.
Staff plan is very essential part for the whole concept. Staff is a key figure to deliver a great, personal and different experience to customers.The strategy of the staff plan is making a clear, organized, easy-to- applied plan with the aim to create a healthy, professional working environment as well as a beneficial staff plan.
Based on the opening hour of the Ähtäri zoo and the volume of visitors, the opening hour of the restaurant and coffee shops are divided in three period: low, mid and high season. The requirements of the opening hours are not only satisfying the demand of visitors but also keep it beneficial. Therefore, in the low season when the zoo just open four hours from 10:00 to 14:00 we just open Aähtäri Hall and Coffee Mustikki on weekends only. We can use this time for renovation. Besides, this time we can organise winter holiday and skiiing holiday for permanent staff. In the medium season- autumn time, Taikametsä restaurant serve food in lunch hour only so we can cut the chef cost in quiet hours. In high season, all the restaurant and coffee shops opens in different time. Two coffee shops open later and close earlier. They open in the peak hour to support ähtäri hall and the restaurant. Taikametsä restaurant serve food in all opening time. The table above shows the opening time of each restaurant and coffee shops.
According to Baker Tilly's Restaurant Benchmarks, a full-service restaurant should spend between 30 percent and 35 percent of its gross sales income on payroll. Besides, limited services restaurant and coffee shops normally spend around 25 to 30 percent for staff cost.
Restaurant manager’s duties include maintaining the restaurant revenue, profitability and quality goals. He/ she can be consider as a leader of a team. Daily work tasks of a restaurant manager are supervising, training staff and managing budget and daily benefits. Besides, he/ she also takes care of restaurant inventories, sale, marketing, staff feedback and complaints, supervisor, recruitment, inventories, training, customer feedback. Additionally, restaurant manager with the chef have responsibility in creating menu and maintain food hygiene and quality. We also have Coffee shop manager who in charge of the coffee shops side. He/ She will be in charge of the Ähtäri Hall, Kouvo and Mustikki coffee shop. The head chef also plays very important roles. He/ she will cooperate with the manager in setting goals, maintaining F&B quality and training.
There are some basic qualification that we expect in our staff members. Firstly, they have knowledge about F&B and customer services. There are some required skills such as teamworking, communication and language skills (e.g. Finnish and at least English). They should have a suitable personality to work in hospitality industry such as being tidy, organised, energetic and friendly. Finally, they must have hygiene and alcohol certificate.
The temporary staff number have a big ratio, therefore recruiting new staff before high season is very essential. A clear timeframe for recruitment plan is needed. The job advertisement should be very clear, interesting and informative about workplace, requirements as well as training and benefits. Besides traditional ways such as posting advertisement on the internet and on local newspaper, Ähtäri Zoo can contact directly hospitality schools for recruitment. Trainees and candidate under 18 year old are welcome. Hiring students in summer time is very important as their salaries are lower and, therefore costs are reasonable. They are also suitable for basic work tasks which don’t need previous training and experience. In addition, it’s important to keep the old staff by building a healthy and motivated working environment.
Training is a key to build a strong team and keep F&B service quality high. The training session should include basic knowledge about Ähtäri zoo. Besides, they must have a clear and accurate information about F&B products. By doing this, staff can deliver informative and helpful experiences to the guests. In the orientation, getting to know other colleagues and understand team working spirit is essential. They also need to know about using and maintaining restaurant and coffee shop facilities.