When a door closes, a window opens. That’s probably the most apt quote to describe Shi Fu Ge’s (食福閣) situation.
When the zi char business at Sembawang Garden Arcade closed down in 2014, Blake, Shi Fu Ge's owner claimed that he wanted to begin an online delivery business for zi char. However, he was met with a slew of doubts and jokes made about this unbelievable idea. After all, the essence of zi char was to serve up piping hot dishes to the customers on the spot. Someone even poked fun at this dream and said, “Do you think you're MacDonald's?”
Well, time stood proof to the saying that anything is possible. Shi Fu Ge is now running a booming business with a central kitchen at Senoko, receiving a great number of orders from the nearby neighbourhood. The 10-man strong fleet of riders is further evidence of the high demand for online ordered and delivered zi char.
One may then wonder, isn’t zi char available just round the corner in every neighbourhood? Well, just like how McDonald’s is just around in about every nook and cranny, we still order in simply for convenience’s sake. Indeed, Shi Fu Ge has succeeded in becoming the pioneering “McDonald’s” of zi char in Singapore. Other than convenience, we simply cannot ignore the innovative novel dishes offered by zi char delivery. One key highlight would be the Crab in Da Bag Imperial Pot. Inspired by the Louisiana-style seafood in a bag, Shi Fu Ge’s heartland zi char version offers White Tom Yum flavour in addition to the spicy and non-spicy varieties.
Modernizing zi char
If Shi Fu Ge can be called the McDonald’s of zi char, it can’t miss out on online ordering. In addition to the traditional source of phone call orders, Shi Fu Ge has its own online ordering site with a full list of their menu easily accessible to anyone on mobile. This has helped greatly with boosting their online ordering business and making them a favourite of the mobile-savvy generation looking for convenience.
Despite the modernity of the business in an industry where technology is slow to catch on, Blake doesn’t forget the important values behind zi char. In a time of precooked food and microwaved meals, he insists on only delivering the best to his customers – fresh food freshly cooked and quickly served, 现做现卖 as we commonly hear in Mandarin Chinese. In the online ordering industry and especially in fast-paced Singapore, speed is really key to maintaining loyalty among customers; coming right after the quality of food. Fortunately, not only does Blake have an experienced and hardworking crew, the ordering workflow has been simplified with the Oddle online ordering system. Blake jovially shares that he no longer needs to reach for the ringing phone and take orders like an octopus.
Going Stronger Effortlessly
Many F&B businesses often target the office crowd due to their need for quickly ready food. Situated in Senoko with more factories than offices, Shi Fu Ge has a distinctively different target audience simply because Blake believes in free will. Wait, free will? Doesn’t everyone order food out of their free will? Well, when we say “free will” here, we really mean the craving and urge to get the food. Food always tastes best when one’s been craving and dreaming about it. Of course, the actual taste does matter. But when comparing food that is marketed to you and food you’ve been craving, the latter is likely to be your first choice. Blake sincerely believes in serving food to a diverse group of people who will enjoy it because they want it out of their own will. Having shifted his focus from marketing to productivity and convenience for his customers, Shi Fu Ge stands to benefit from satisfied customers that come back for more.
It may seem ludicrous that Shi Fu Ge isn’t engaging in aggressive marketing efforts. However, if one considers how Shifuge has gone online, it is absolutely possible! Simply the presence of an online ordering menu means customers can easily return to the store without making an extra effort to travel. Furthermore, the integration of the online ordering menu with the Shop Now button on Shi Fu Ge’s Facebook page also means that any word-of-mouth recommendation can be easily converted to actual sales. For example, when a happy customer shares on Facebook that Shi Fu Ge had been an awesome choice for a lazy weekend dinner, her friends can be easily redirected to the Facebook page and then the online ordering menu. Moreover, the marketing arm of the Oddle online ordering system that powers Shi Fu Ge’s online ordering menu – FeastBump helps to market Shi Fu Ge to a wider pool of online ordering customers as well.
To those naysayers who doubted Blake’s dream, Shi Fu Ge’s pioneering online zi char presence has definitely proved them wrong, big time. Today, Blake may be still busy with the daily operations of an online delivering zi char business. But with delighted customers and a loyal crew, what more can an F&B owner ask for?
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