At Engage Comms, we are extremely excited to announce that we are now working with Bradford-based Prashad; the vegetarian Indian restaurant which beat all the odds to become Finalists of Channel 4’s Ramsay’s Best Restaurant 2010.

Our client, Bobby Patel, whose parents Kaushy and Mohan opened Prashad as a small deli 22 years ago, is the ‘business brains’ behind the restaurant. After going to university and building a successful career as a business consultant in London, he brought his skills back to Yorkshire to take over at the helm of his family business.

His vision was to tap into what was so engaging about his friendly, charitable, passionate, much-loved parents’ venture and turn it into a profitable, success business – without losing any of the magic that made it so special. And he succeeded. Prashad’s accolades in recent years have included a mention in the Michelin Guide and a Times Top 40 cookbook.

We believe that Prashad’s success has been largely down to the passion, heart and customer focus of its people and their ability to keep their audience engaged in what they are doing, which has built them a well deserved loyal fan base. Not only is Bobby still sought after for media interviews, he is now being asked to speak at business events about how he has grown the business into the multi-award winning restaurant that it is today. So, we thought we would share some of his tips here.

1. Always retain your values and beliefs

Gordon Ramsay’s most important piece of advice to Prashad in the wake of the buzz from the TV show was to grow slowly and organically and not lose sight of what it was that made them so special. Gujarati cuisine is all about family and cooking from the heart with love, passion and a touch of magic. Kaushy was brought up to never compromise on quality and only ever use the freshest, best quality ingredients available and then lovingly prepare every dish. This is still very much the ethos at Prashad today.

2. Have a clear vision

Gordon also suggested that Prashad didn’t try to be ‘everything to all men’ but instead focused on a clear vision of becoming the first Indian vegetarian restaurant in the UK with a Michelin star. This keeps staff engaged in the restaurant’s journey and informs every decision that is made.

3. Never stop listening to your customers!

Prashad now uses social media as part of its everyday business to engage with existing/potential customers and stakeholders. But Bobby was using social media such as review site Sugarvine as early as 2002 to monitor and respond to all customer comments. This is what got this tiny restaurant in Bradford noticed by Channel 4 and what has made it the most talked about restaurant on Trip Advisor. The Patel family’s ‘obsession’ with constantly adapting to meet its customers’ expectations is what drives the business forward. Instead of being defensive, they relish the opportunity to understand what people think and then act on it.

4. Be open and approachable

Although they spend most of their time in the kitchen his mum Kaushy and wife Minal (who is now head chef) need to be visible to the outside world because they are the people that make the business what it is. That’s why they got involved in running cooking courses and released the cookbook. The book is so much more than a collection of recipes – it charts the family’s story and history and shares Prashad’s most intimate cooking tips and secrets that could have easily been left out but that are what makes the book so special.

5. Manage expectations and take your customers on the journey with you

After gaining recognition from someone like Gordon Ramsay, people’s expectations of Prashad are sky high. However, Bobby and the team have remained very humble and put a lot of effort into ensuring that they set expectations at the right level and then consistently exceed them. They communicate every business decision that is made with their audiences and explain why they are doing what they are doing. People feel so bought into the brand that if they don’t feel that they are a part of the journey, they will see it as having ‘sold out’ and it will lose its original charm.

Whatever your sector of size/type of business, there is a lot you can learn from Prashad’s phenomenal success and we feel privileged to get the chance to be a part of its future.