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Ryohei Ito | Founder & CEO | RAKKAN RAMEN

RAKKAN RAMEN: Providing Healthy and Tasty Authentic Ramen

Addressing the people’s healthy and tasty food needs, RAKKAN RAMEN was established by Ryohei Ito with a slogan “Healthy and Tasty, Our ramen is made with 100% plant-based broth.” AS the Ito is the Founder and CEO of RAKKAN Ramen strongly supports non-animal products and believes the choice we make about what we eat, where it comes from, and how it’s made has a direct and consequential impact on the health of individuals, communities, and the planet.

To understand Ito’s ideologies behind the RAKKAN RAMEN franchise, Insights Success caught up with him to know more about the franchise’s journey, its services, and how it supports its franchisees, ensuring profitability and brand reputation.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Give us a brief overview/inception of RAKKAN RAMEN, its mission, and the key aspects of its strong foothold in the food franchise industry.

We believe that simple operations make the Restaurant a lot more effective and convenient. We provide full support services for market research, site research, landlord negotiations, and other site selections through our partner agency. The simplicity of the operations gives us an edge on the annual turnover of people. The brand set us apart from any other ramen concept because of the simplicity of the concept in operations.

What sets us apart as an organization is based on three merits:

1) Using 100% plant-based broth equates to low costs for ingredients. Our cost ratio is approximately 30% less than ramen restaurants using animal-derived ingredients for their broth. We do not take food cost margins.

2) Using 100% plant-based broth means less hygiene management, such as a reduction in sanitizing food. This translates into lower capital investment requirements, as we need fewer ducts than other ramen restaurants.

3) Using 100% plant-based broth means no need for veteran chefs. Our authentic-tasting ramen dishes can be made perfectly and consistently, even by beginners. Other ramen restaurants use broth derived from pork or chicken bones, which can take more than 10 hours to prepare. Such slow cooking requires complex operations, resulting in the commercial pressure of high labor costs. In contrast, RAKKAN Ramen broth takes just one hour to cook while still being flavorful, and our a-la-carte dishes are equally simple to prepare. Quicker cooking time is additional merit that lowers gas costs to 65% less than other ramen restaurants and reduces labor costs by up to 25%.

Describe your top-notch offerings, and what makes your franchise a preferred choice among your clientele over other competitors?

Our top-notch offerings are Amber (soy sauce ramen), Spicy Garnet (spicy miso sauce ramen), and a variety of vegan options. We don’t use any fatty, high-calorie, meat-based broth like tonkotsu, making our broth with high-quality vegetables like mushrooms and kelp. We also use our very own fermented seasoning, enhancing the soup’s flavor bomb. Our ramen is much healthier and lighter than other competitors. Because of our 100% plant-based broth, most of our ramen menu can be prepared as fully vegan.

Describe in detail the work culture the values that drive RAKKAN Ramen services.

RAKKAN has its own work culture under five essential values, which are Authenticity, Service, Winning, Integrity, and Teamwork. Our genuine quality of the products and knowledge about ramen culture we brought from overseas is beyond reproach. This builds a firm foundation in reliability while increasing the transparency and accountability of our business partners and their team. Healthy and tasty ramen is our passion, inspiration, and expertise. By providing products with passion and great customer service, we have received a magnitude of pouring reviews. Though not always five stars, we sincerely appreciate voices from all of our guests that become our topics of the everyday meeting to share the concerning issues, discuss the solutions, and implement the improvement. Our goal is to consistently execute every product and service. To achieve the goal, we’ve created a scheme to send a well-versed training crew to every location to provide a professional overview with periodic assessments. At the same time, we build trust, respect, and loyalty with customers and franchisees. Great teamwork is another significant key fact of our success in this industry, and we maintain our solid foundation while expanding across the US.

In what ways have you or your franchise contributed to the community?

More recently, we have partnered with an organization supporting local youths in Southern California. This program features a discount card where all proceeds go towards funding youth summer camps, and customers of our Restaurant can enjoy a free appetizer with the purchase of ramen. We are proud to have the opportunity to support the new generation of youths in our community through this partnership.

Would you please shed the knowledge on your training programs that help you to expand your franchise?

Employees who value training programs are the ones you want because it means they are always seeking ways to improve themselves and learn new skills in this rapidly changing community. Employee training and development programs, when thoughtfully implemented, are the cornerstone of a company’s success. Before designing our learning and development program, we assess their needs. Understanding if they have food service experiences. Suppose they are internal or outsourced. RAKKAN Training is state of the art. Since it is a simple operations training for franchisees, its management training can be completed in 15 days and helps them out on the opportunities and strengths until they get comfortable with the responsibilities.

Currently, we support our franchisees through various ways to ensure profitability and ensure to maintain the standard and procedure of the brand. We are expecting the launch of the Restaurant Visits monthly to ensure the operation is at par both on product preparation, food safety, and guest service. We give them the proper guidance and tools needed when launching new products to ensure proper procedures are followed. We utilize four steps in training which are prepared, present, practice, and follow up. We do “Say It” and “Do It” delivery of staff training, and franchisees were encouraged to participate. They receive daily evaluations of their performance which ensure learning and retention. At the end of their training, they receive a certification of completion. By receiving feedback on their experience, we know what areas need to be improved or clarified. Training and development of the employees will help them ensure they have the best workforce possible. Investing on the front end could pay big dividends for their bottom line.

As a well-known franchise in the food and drink franchise, what innovative technologies are you implementing to elevate your services to be more productive?

Growing a business isn’t easy. First, the concept needs a viable and interesting idea. From there, we need to discover a profitable niche, define a target demographic, and have something of value to sell them. Whether you’re peddling products, services, or information, getting the word out has become increasingly burdensome. And without the right marketing strategies to fuel our growth, churning a profit and staying afloat is virtually impossible. Identifying the right strategies to market our business is often likened to rocket science. How do we get a message to the right audience and do it effectively? How do we consistently boost visibility and increase sales while sustaining a profit with a converting offer consistently? Today, with so much vying for our attention from social media to search engine optimization and blogging, it’s easy to see why most are ready to pull their hair out. Most entrepreneurs are so busy working “in” their businesses that they fail to work “on” their businesses. Upgrading our equipment is one way of elevating services at the Restaurant to be productive and to add value to the brand and products. Another is having different metrics and technologies that will help us determine opportunities in service or operations and can help boost the brand.

What are RAKKAN’s future aspirations? What strategies are you undertaking to achieve those goals?

Goal setting is one of the most important activities in RAKKAN, and our goal helps us stay focused and prevents us from becoming stagnant. Our future aspiration is to passionately grow and expand the brand globally by offering healthy and tasty authentic ramen made from 100% plant-based broth that sets the stage for ongoing success.

Along with the statement, we try our best ability to reduce ongoing expenses, maintain profits, increase productivity as well as traffic by teaming up with marketing professionals who are experts on social media such as building more attractive websites, collaborating with local influencers, and posting exciting events to promote store sales.

This year we’re implementing a mystery shopper program and will be rolling it out to all the locations. The evaluation outcome will be shared with all the employees, which will allow them to revisit operation manuals to reconcile their actions, thus improving customer services.

As an established franchise, what would your advice be to up-and-coming entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into the franchise industry?

Being a successful entrepreneur takes a lot of work, vision, and perseverance. Having a mentor is an amazing blessing, but not everyone can find one in person. My advice will be to keep pushing forward. No doubt running a business takes a lot of time. Steve Jobs noted that the only way to be satisfied in your life is to do work that you truly believe in. I started my business about ten years ago in Japan, and when we started, we frequently had to close since I was not fully satisfied with the taste and quality of the soup, which caused a great inconvenience to our loyal customers. Though there are many obstacles to overcome, the more time you invest in your company, the stronger your will to move forward. If you are venturing into the franchise industry, I would advise you to understand your industry and know the current trends. Find good people with characters and values and build your great team to bolster your success, then set goals and remind yourself of them each day. You will never know the outcome of your efforts unless you do it. I would suggest you manage your business wisely and learn from your unhappy customers and feedback because they are the greatest source of learning and reflect its daily operations. I encourage entrepreneurs to deliver to more than customers’ expectations. It’s a great way to get noticed in your industry and build a loyal following of advocates.