KEBABS are perhaps one of the simplest meals one could ever prepare. However, the most well-known food from the Middle East has evolved over time and now comes in many variations to suit taste buds.
For 25-year-old Afandi Oh, turning kebab-making into a fast-food business seemed like a good way to diversify his entrepreneurship skills.
“I founded Inky Sdn Bhd five years ago and we were mainly trading apparel, accessories and jewellery. But since it was on credit terms, it became very challenging.
“So, I decided to diversify into another field and thought why not try food and beverage instead,” said Afandi, who then researched the industry for about a year before partnering Kebab Turki Baba Rafi (KTBR).
“KTBR is a fast-food business that is well-known in Indonesia and since its opening in 2003, it has rapidly expanded to about 1,000 outlets in Indonesia,” said Afandi, who has a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship from HELP University, Kuala Lumpur.
KTBR is currently said to be the largest kebab franchise in Indonesia.
According to Afandi, it all started when Hendy Sentiono, an Indonesian boy, visited his father, who worked for an oil company in Qatar. Hendy was amazed at the number of kebab shops in urban areas and how popular the wrap was among local and foreign tourists.
Impressed with the simple yet tasty snack, Hendy took the idea back to Indonesia and started selling kebabs from a push-cart.
A decade later, the business in Indonesia has expanded to about 1,000 locations.
Afandi said he was keen on the business concept offered by KTBR and eager to explore and deliver more ideas to ensure the business prospers in Malaysia.
“As the master franchise holder for KTBR in Malaysia, I wanted to offer a takeaway service plus a place with a small dining space for six or seven people at a time.
“It is not necessary to have a big space, as we do not want huge overheads,” said Afandi, adding that about RM1.5mil was invested in the business to purchase the master franchisee title, set up of the first outlet in Summit USJ, obtain work permits for foreign workers, packaging and to set up of an office in The Strand, Kota Damansara.
The money for the business came from private funds.
Afandi said as he saw the need to open more outlets in order to expand the franchise in the Klang Valley, so he decided to go expand by setting up two push carts, two kiosks and two outlets in Central Market, Kelana Jaya food court and The Mines Shopping Mall, respectively. Subsequently, two more outlets were opened in Tesco Mutiara Damansara and The Strand.
“As with any business, it is hard to see profits in the first few months. This is why we opened the outlets, and also gave out 500 kebabs for free on the first day of operations.
“We received good feedback from customers, who liked our kebabs not only for their taste, but also for the convenience of being able to take away,” Oh said, adding that from then on, news of KTBR started to spread via social media and by word of mouth.
He said most of the outlets are already making an average RM1,300 a day.
“Currently, on a normal day, we are still making the same amount, although it can go up to between RM1,500 and RM1,700 per day on weekends,” said the ambitious young man.
The kebabs — beef, chicken and chicken hotdog — are priced at RM6.50 each. For veggie lovers, vege kebabs are also available at RM3.50 each.
KTBR also offers other items such as beef burgers, chicken burgers, double burgers (chicken/beef), chicken hotdogs, beef hotdogs and syawarma (chicken/beef) at RM5.50 each.
Afandi declined to disclose his company’s revenue for last year, but said the company was expecting 30% growth next year.
On how long it would take for an outlet to become profitable, Afandi said this would depend on the location, which is why a preliminary survey is of great importance.
Afandi said although he did not have any previous experience in the F&B sector, he was able to conduct the business here with the full support of KTBR in Indonesia.
“KTBR in Indonesia has a wonderful and supportive management and they assisted me in looking for optimum locations.
“Apart from that, they also transferred their knowledge in the business and assisted in the recruitment and training of employees,” said the Kuala Lumpur-born Afandi.
He added that he currently has 15 people in his management team overseeing the operations, licensing and logistics segment of the franchise.
Afandi said the business has definitely seen growth, with 13 more outlets licensed out to other business operators, including INTI College in Nilai, Seremban, Plaza Low Yat and Wangsa Walk.
He said the franchise package starts from RM85,000, including the booth, complete set of equipment (kebab burners) and utensils, recruitment and training of employees, assistance in searching for a location, raw materials for the first week of operations, a business promotion package (signage, banners and flyers) as well as quality control and maintenance.
However, if one opts to have a bigger space plus other added facilities such as a TV, counter with high stools or tables and chairs, then the cost will definitely be higher.
He said the recommended area for an outlet would be from 100 sq ft to 600sq ft.
“Franchisees need not worry about the business as we offer good support team for this,” he said, adding that the package also offered a manual on standard operational procedure and sales software.
In addition to that, Afandi said KTBR is strict on it conducting regular spot checks on a weekly basis to ensure that workers are well-groomed, the outlets are clean and in order, and most importantly, the kebabs are sliced consistently in accordance to specifications and vegetables are fresh.
Just like any other franchise business, Afandi said Inky receives a 5% royalty fee per month from the profits made by individual operators.
Afandi, who clearly projects the dynamism every entrepreneur needs, said Inky is currently in the midst of setting up a central kitchen, office space and warehouse in Inovo 8, Taman Teknologi 1, Kota Damansara.
The three-storey building has a built-up area of 9,000sq ft, and about RM2.5mil has been allocated to set it up.
“We will be making our own meat kebabs once this is ready, as previously we outsourced it to a local supplier using our secret recipe,” said Afandi.
Afandi said, similar to Pizza Hut’s delivery service, they will be offering similar services in two month’s time, starting with the Bangsar outlet.
“All we need is to purchase two motorcycles and, with Bangsar’s strategic location, I am certain we can do well,” he said, adding that the target market would be people working in offices around Bukit Damansara, Bangsar and Brickfields.
Asked about the difference between KTBR’s kebabs and others sold in the city, Oh said the chicken and beef in KTBR kebabs are marinated using special recipes.
“Even the way we prepare the kebabs is different as we pan-fry them and our bread is very thin, giving the whole thing the wholesome crunchy taste of every ingredient in it,” Afandi said, adding that KTBR’s takeaway and easy-to-eat concept is the most important factor to consider in comparing it with other eateries.
Afandi’s aggressive expansion plan in the next five years is to open 200 more outlets nationwide.
“We will continue to be innovative and make improvements as well as introduce new ideas and menus to complement the lifestyle of the community at large,” he said.
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