Who knew that a chance conversation between a customer and a budding restauranteur would be the start of a partnership journey that would see the establishment of a QSR brand with over 114 outlets? That is exactly how Puneet Kansal and Gagan Sial embarked on the journey of Rolls Mania in 2010, with Gagan’s brother, Sukhpreet, joining the team as well.
The Pune-based QSR is aggressively ramping up its retail presence, opening almost four outlets a month, and serving over 12,000 rolls a day. It is now firming up plans to explore international markets as well, starting with the Middle East.
CONNECTING FOR SUCCESS
Rolls Mania had a very unusual and humble beginning. Kansal, who had moved to Pune, from northern India, saw that the city’s working professionals and students were always hungry for an economical meal that could be had on-the-go. He opened a small food counter outside a restaurant selling rolls, where restauranteur Gagan Sial often dropped in to grab a bite. Soon, the restaurant owner asked Kansal to vacate the premise as more people were eating at his rolls counter than entering the eatery.
“This was a blessing in disguise as Gagan, Sukpreet and I decided to start Rolls Mania together in 2010. We began our first outlet with around INR 2 lakh investment and whatever we earned we invested back into the store,” Puneet reminisced.
Gagan added that the trio would take turns manning the payment counters, overseeing kitchen and would even deliver orders. Today, the company’s core team consists of over 65 people, with another 800-odd members from the franchise network.
CATERING TO LOCALISED TASTEBUDS
Talking about why he chose rolls as his core food product, Kansal explained that it is a wholesome meal that can be had on-the-go and can be localized for Indian tastebuds across the country. Gradually, the trio expanded their menu to include ice tea, cold coffees, shakes and coolers. However, they took care not to launch any product that would be a direct competition to rolls.
“We wanted to have a smaller and focused menu focusing on rolls since our core business is not selling shakes or cold coffee. These are add-ons and if these overpower our core business, then it can only mean that our fundamental business has some faults,” Gagan further explained.
ON A ROLL, LITERALLY!
Currently, Rolls Mania sells over 12,000 rolls daily pan-India across its 114 outlets. However, between 2010 and 2012, the Sial brothers and Kansal opened only three stores in Pune. Elucidating why they adopted a slow approach to scaling up, Kansal said it was largely because of lack of funds and limited experience in the food industry.
Initially, all the stores were self-owned and the company started appointing franchisees only after 2014. “I wanted to ensure that if somebody is investing in our company, they would definitely make profits, so that it was a win-win situation for everyone,” he added.
Gagan pointed out an interesting aspect about their franchising business – they do not have many franchisees. Instead, the same partner would take multiple outlets, which underlines that it was a successful business model.
Today, the company is targeting opening at least two company-owned stores and four franchise outlets a month. Describing the reason for opting for this mixed model, Kansal said, “I have lesser profitability ratio in the franchise stores since I am just charging for royalty. This is not the case in a company-owned store, hence we would like to expand our self-owned network too.”
WHY REINVENT THE WHEEL?
While increasing their footprint, Rolls Mania faced the challenge of maintaining uniformity in food quality in every store. The promoters realized that a centralized kitchen could not solve this issue, so they came up with a dry masala formula. This is very similar to the ready-masala mix available with instant noodles.
Explaining this brainwave, Gagan said, “If we have around 10 base products, we prepare separate masala batches for each product and make it available at every outlet. Even if we hire new kitchen staff, we don’t have to train them much, because they just have to mix the masala with the base product in the prescribed ratio to get the consistent flavor and taste.”
He added that this strategy helped Rolls Mania significantly in scaling from 15 stores to 110 stores within a short span of time.
SAILING FOR GLOBAL SHORES
After having a widespread presence pan-India, Rolls Mania is now exploring opportunities in global markets. It is on the verge of finalizing negotiations to launch the brand in Middle East.
Interestingly, Kansal revealed that for its international foray, the promoters are in touch with customers who enjoyed eating Rolls Mania’s fare in India and wanted to explore the possibility of opening the brand in their respective countries. This goes to prove, that food can bind people in strange ways and breaking bread can transform relations from that of a customer to a partner with greater ease.