Opening the doors of its first restaurant in Melbourne in 2006, it was three more years before Gami Chicken opened a second location in Melbourne’s CBD. Now, with 37 stores, Gami Chicken is edging in on 42 casual dining locations across Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, and the ACT by the end of 2023. The aggressive targets belie the casual dining restaurant’s initial slow and steady approach which has made it a predominantly Victorian success-story to date.
Gami Chicken’s executive director Jun Lee talks about how the group of four co-founders pursued a food business idea some ten years after inception. From here, Jun looks at his key business lessons, and how he grew chicken and beer into an empire.
The business lessons of Gami Chicken
Consistently deliver your core value. Maintain the brand’s core value with business, brand and product development providing support.
Simplicity is at the heart of the Gami Chicken’s casual dining offer. The co-founders’ (Jun Lee, Rio Yoon, Max Ji and Ayden Jung) vision of creating a casual dining setting to enjoy tasty Korean chicken and drink specifically brewed beer is not complicated, and maintains ‘serving tasty food’ as its core value.
“Tasty food is what we are known for and what draws people to us. So, all our business systems are set up to support our core value, allowing us to focus on delivering our value proposition,” says Jun.
The chain even managed to grow in sales during the hard lockdowns of COVID, and with new menu items and an always evolving ethos, the sales growth between March and June in 2023 is more than 270 percent.
A steadfast approach to quality delivers sustained growth.
The growth of Gami Chicken is based on developing individual franchised stores and helping grow existing locations. This business model has been proven successful through operating systems with clarity, efficient systems in place and a well-defined process that can be replicated in new locations.
“The Gami Chicken approach of helping franchisees establish themselves from the start has helped drive the success of individual stores, adapting to different markets while maintaining profitability,” says Jun.
Know your customer – this includes your franchisees and end-consumers.
Although many country and region-specific hospitality franchises target certain ethnicities to maintain authenticity, Jun acknowledges that the Gami Chicken story is an Australian one. “Just like our restaurant customers, Gami Chicken franchisees are not necessarily Korean or from a wider Asian background. We don’t require a Korean franchisee, restaurant manager, or staff to maintain our authenticity,” said Jun. Indeed, some customers don’t even know Gami Chicken has a Korean influence, which is a good thing.” This focus on strong operators regardless of ethnic background has helped Gami Chicken scale the business over the past decade.
Quality doesn’t just refer to the food being served. “A franchise agreement is a long-term relationship and just as we do our research, so too should a potential franchisee who are welcome to talk to existing franchisees. Thorough research, due diligence, and careful consideration should be undertaken before entering into any franchise agreement. Both sides must find out as much about your partner as you possibly can, before taking that giant step,” Jun explains.
Franchise businesses thrive on consistency and standardisation. Customers expect a consistent experience regardless of the location they visit. Franchises achieve this through standardised products, services, operations, and customer service.
“To stay competitive and adapt to changing consumer preferences, Gami Chicken invests in continuous innovation with the customer in mind. This includes introducing new products that keep the franchise fresh and relevant in the market. Consumer spending and behaviour data, along with trends and eating habits, and consumer types based on income and other demographic information drives our food and drinks menu, prices, store locations, and every aspect of our forward planning,” Jun finishes.