22 03 2021
I asked what they did during this period and his predictions for Sinan Ünal, CMO of TFI TAB Food Investments, which carries out fast-service restaurant operations in 5 countries, including Turkey, Northern Republic of Macedonia, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Georgia, and China. I share his comments in detail.
TFI TAB Food Investments has more than 2500 restaurants, 1200 of which are in Turkey and 1300 in China. The organization employs more than 60 thousand employees. In Turkey, they operate 6 brands, including four global brands of Burger King, Sbarro, Popeyes, Arby's, and 2 domestic brands of Usta Dönerci and Usta Pideci.
Alongside Turkey, TFI TAB Food Investments operates the Burger King®️ brand in around 200 cities in China. TFI TAB Food Investments, which also undertook the China operation of Popeyes®️ after Burger King®️, considers China its operation as a long-term investment.
What did you do for your employees during the pandemic period?
"At TAB Gıda, employees are our most valuable asset. Thanks to them, the continuity of our business is ensured. In this period, the most critical issue for us and every company was to protect employment since this epidemic has affected and continues to affect broad segments of society socio-economically. We are a company that brings human resources to the sector. Therefore, it was vital for us to protect our human resources and to ensure their health in this period. We have made our employees aware of COVID-19 with regular training activities. We have everything to protect their health in the best way with our body temperature measurement application, the use of masks and gloves, and practices that eliminate close contact. With the transition to the controlled social life, we will continue to apply the measures we have taken to protect our employees' health without compromise. The use of masks and gloves will continue to be mandatory for our employees and couriers, and our regular temperature measurement practices will continue. We will increase their awareness by providing regular training pieces for the new period.”
What have you done for your customers?
"We had significant know-how in customer experience. For this reason, we focused on customer experience in this period and raised the bar on this issue even higher. We rearranged all stages, including production, preparation, and serving, in a manner that ensures integrity and safety. We have implemented many innovative applications. We continue to provide our customers with access to our products following the social distance rule through Tıkla Gelsin, Yemeksepeti, mobile and online ordering platforms, our Gel-Al application, and our temperature measurement slips that we send with orders. During this period, our employees and couriers had to use masks and gloves, and we started to offer features such as "Hang My Order on the door handle," "Contactless Delivery," and "Safe Package" with digital application Tıkla Gelsin. Our main goal has been to ensure that our products were delivered from our restaurants to our customers completely packed and safe. The share of takeaway has increased by 60 percent during the pandemic period.”
What awaits us when shopping malls and restaurants are opened?
“With the transition to controlled social life, the circular issued by our Ministry of Health revealed what should be done for each sector. What matters is to overcome this period most healthily. Normalization will come gradually in our country as in the whole world. For example, almost all of our restaurants in China are open now. Workplaces and shopping malls were opened in our country as of June 1. Many measures are implemented, including spaced tables, masks, and temperature measurement. In this direction, we started to serve customers at the table in our restaurants. Under the Ministry of Health's circular, we take all our measures, especially information and warning signs, disinfection points, spaced table layout, and the use of masks. Masks and gloves are mandatory for our employees and couriers, and our regular temperature measurement practices continue. That's why we think that in the new normalization period, things will be carried out with the least amount of contact, and we make all our preparations accordingly. We will continue to share the product supply process to order delivery with our customers through all our channels.
What did you do for society in this period?
In this period, we did our best to support society besides our core business. In China, where the epidemic started, we have provided many supports to NGOs and healthcare professionals. We received many letters of thanks from the authorities regarding our support. The first thing we did in our country was to go to healthcare workers who worked night and day for us. We didn't want this support to remain with our efforts only. We made a call for our sector through social media, saying "# saglıkcalısanlarıicinyanyanayız/togetherforhealthworkers." Our call had broad repercussions in sector representatives and found a response.
We gathered our support activities under one roof, and they grew even more. In this period, we have achieved a big success that reflects the spirit of unity and solidarity. This is an outstanding development for our sector. We reached 17 hospitals and 3000 healthcare workers in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, Karabük, and Isparta. We were not only limited to Turkey. We included our international operations in this support initiative with our Burger King and Usta Dönerci restaurants operating in the Republic of North Macedonia. We have reached a total of 3300 healthcare workers in the Republic of North Macedonia.
What have you done for the continuity of your business?
As TAB Gıda, we have been operating fast service restaurants for a quarter of a century. Hygiene and food safety have always been the top priorities for TAB Gıda. That is why we have seen the benefits of our investments in these fields during this period. We conduct a supply chain that is entirely under our control. We supply many products, including bread, potatoes, and meat, from our factories. We maintain the entire supply operation, including vegetables and distribution, within the TAB Gıda ecosystem. All stages of production, preparation, and service of our products are under our supervision. In the sector we operate in, we have a significant advantage in cold-chain management and supply, which has become much more critical in this period. Being one of the first members of the Food Safety Association, we already had very strict hygiene and health procedure. We even share every stage of our products online, from production to consumption, through the "Know What You Eat" digital platform we have created. In this period, we have entered a period where we have strengthened all these precautions and applied them with zero compromises. In brief, we put the health of our customers and employees, in other words, 'the people' at the center of our business."
What are your plans for the next 6 months?
“In fact, this was a period in which the agile and innovative companies survived. Consumer dynamics changed instantly. Those who managed this successfully entered the new era more robust. We gathered all of our efforts for this period on a platform called “Evde K®al." This platform was a big project that involved more than just positioning the Burger King logo under its roof. We even included our business partners, such as Coca-Cola, Algida, Yemeksepeti, and Fiyuu, and started to serve within a brand-new action plan. It can be understood much better if I give a few examples from the process.
For example, weekends used to be the period in which we received the most orders. However, we started to receive more orders on the weekdays in the corona period. Another striking example of change occurs in the big cities about students. During this period, orders are changed as many students went back to their families. In this direction, we have created different menus that appeal to various audiences under this roof. Here we have also focused on a family of three or four people and white-collar workers living alone and gamers who returned to their family's house and spent their days playing games. We dynamically managed this change on the consumer side.
Considering that controlled social life will continue for a long time, it will be necessary to understand new consumer dynamics and generate innovative solutions rapidly in the next six months. Therefore, we will continue to develop suitable menus for these demands. Digitalization has become even more critical in our sector in this period, as in every sector, and it enriched our experience. A significant segment of society had a prejudice against online shopping. We see that this was relatively broken during this period, and this trend will continue in the coming months. People go to shops or shopping malls and see the products. If they decide that it is more advantageous, they prefer to shop online and via mobile. Despite all the adverse conditions, our online turnover in this period remained stable. The mobile payments we have received in the last two months have increased by almost 10 percent compared to the monthly average. Thus, we will continue to improve our digital applications and mobile payment options in the coming months. While developing our existing applications according to consumer feedback, we will also launch new applications due to needs that are changing dynamically.”