Discover the remarkable journey of Harivony and her husband, an entrepreneurial couple from Madagascar who transformed their co-working space into a thriving restaurant sensation. In an exclusive interview, they share their inspiring tale of how a simple realization about catering services led them to embrace the culinary world. From navigating the challenges of a pandemic-hit opening to harnessing the power of Loyverse POS to streamline operations, their story exemplifies resilience, adaptation, and the pursuit of culinary excellence. Join us as we delve into their insights, experiences, and the meaningful role Loyverse played in their culinary venture.
What inspired you to open your restaurant, and how did you envision its success?
We were a co-working space first here in Madagascar. Our co-workers would look for food during the break and always go outside to find something to eat. We had a lot of events like training or people holding different types of events in our co-working space. Due to this, we had to call for catering services, and then we realized that the catering companies were making more money than we were making. And through this crazy idea, we got to start our restaurant. We thought at first that it would be only for our co-workers. Now, the restaurant works more than the co-working space.
What is the meaning of the name of your restaurant: Serendipity?
Serendipity means happy coincidence.
Is it a family restaurant, or do you have any partners?
It is only my husband and I. We started the business together.
Did you have any previous experience working in restaurants?
We were in the United States before. When we came back to Madagascar, we missed the American food. My husband took courses and classes online to learn several dishes, and we tried to remake the food we missed so much from the USA. This is how it all started. We learned everything from the ground up. We had to learn everything, starting from how to calculate the food, how to make the pricing, and how to prepare the menus. We had to learn everything from scratch.
How long has it been since you opened your restaurant?
We started at the end of the year of 2019.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during these three and half years?
The biggest challenge was COVID-19 because it started at our very opening. We were open for 2-3 months and then got hit by Covid. Here in Madagascar, we had restrictions where no one was allowed to leave the house. We had to improvise and quickly change into delivery services and create products that would boost the immune systems of our customers, like juices and so on. This: opening the restaurant at the very start of the pandemic was our biggest challenge. Crazy enough that it worked out fine.
Another challenge has also been the marketing. We had to inform people about us since we first were a co-working space and needed to inform our customers that we were now a restaurant. It took us around six months to start making a profit.
Has the stressful part finished, or does being an entrepreneur mean co-living with stress daily?
It never ceases to be stressful. But, as you gain more experience, learn along the way, and start using tools such as Loyverse, the stress is more manageable.
What inspires you to continue your entrepreneurial journey, and have you ever thought to give up?
It has crossed our minds :). The one who is in charge of all operations is my husband. He loves making people happy by giving them food. He is passionate at the end of the day and inspires me, too.
How did you come across Loyverse POS?
We came across Loyverse online. My husband was researching the best tools to manage a restaurant (as I mentioned earlier, we studied a lot on how to do this new challenge we started). He immediately loved how Loyverse was set up since it was straightforward. We also did not have difficulty teaching our employees how to use Loyverse.
How has Loyverse helped streamline your restaurant operations, such as order management and inventory control?
Loyverse has made a positive impact since the start. As I mentioned, it took the restaurant six months to become profitable. We were searching for a system that would allow us to track the sales and expenses. Loyverse helped our business to become better.
Primarily, we love that we can track the inventory of our items and always know what items we have available.
But, of course, the whole process of how we use Loyverse: from the moment we take the order, send it directly to the kitchen, serve the food, and close the ticket is very seamless.
A feature that we have found really useful is splitting the payment. Most of our customers are youngsters, mid-30, they eat with their friends and prefer to split the payment at the end. We were happy to find out that Loyverse has this feature and is very easy to use. It is rare in Madagascar to find a POS offering such a feature, making us stand out and feel cool.
Regarding reporting and analytics, how valuable is the data you obtain from Loyverse in terms of understanding your restaurant’s performance and making informed decisions?
It is very important and valuable. I use the Back office reports that Loyverse offers to reconcile with our bank. When we have to do the end of the fiscal year here in Madagascar, the reports in the Back office are very helpful to keep track of all our activity and understand what has been going on, trends, and things that need improvement. We can see from the reports how much we made, whether we made a profit or a loss, whether we should change some prices, etc.
The graph representation is also very helpful because it shows what changes had a good impact and really worked. We need to keep track of the prices of the items since they are changing all the time, so the reports are very advantageous to decide what steps to take to avoid mistakes and go into loss.
Are you using any of Loyverse add-ons?
Is there any advice or words of wisdom you would like to share with aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own restaurants?
My advice would be not to give up. It needs a lot of resilience in whatever you decide to do in a restaurant or any other business type. Remember that it is OK to fail too sometimes. But the key is, as my husband says, “Don’t give up!”. Take everything as an experience, and nothing is lost because you have learned, and you will use this knowledge to guide you in new adventures to get better and avoid the same mistakes. And, cheer up, it is going to be fine :).
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