Lok Lok joins the Asian food franchise game
In an effort to expand its reach, family owned Asian food business the Lokvale Group has recently started franchising its Lok Lok Dumpling Bar brand.
Established in 2010, Lokvale Group has grown its empire to include 11 Lok Lok Dumpling stores (a 12th is scheduled for December) and one Mama’s Wok restaurant, with a second to open in January.
CEO Ava Zhang says extensive expansion, including in international markets, is on the cards. “For the immediate future, our goals are to move on a nationwide scale.”
There’s also Lok Lok Dumpling Express, which is an extension of the Lok Lok Dumpling Bar brand. “It represents another business model that may also be franchised,” Zhang says.
The decision to franchise
Zhang explains the company has an extensive scope; however at the same time it is aware of the need to tailor products to suit specific markets and individual preferences.
“Lokvale Group has a grand vision to apply our wealth of knowledge and experience of Asian food on a global scale.
“The best way to do this is of course through franchising. Not only will this help us achieve our vision, it will speed up the process while ensuring each individual market receives a high quality product,” she adds.
The Lokvale Group has established a simple food philosophy for its brands. “We want to serve healthy, great tasting food and put a beautiful smile on every guest’s face. We’re all about leaving happy memories.
“Australians everywhere are increasingly embracing Chinese culture and cuisine – it is our wish at Lokvale Group to lead this expansion of Asian tastes worldwide,” says Zhang.
She explains the food itself represents a fusion of Asian and Australian cultures. “We maintain the integrity of every ingredient and respect the roots of the two distinguished worlds.
“We stand for the highest of food passion and dedication. Since our inception, we have been serving this beautiful fusion of two cultures to diners."
Zhang says the company has employed a wealth of expertise and research data to support is expansion efforts, and the Good Business Sense Eating Habits 2014 National Study has particularly influenced the company’s approach to its food.
“The study investigated seasonal harvesting and eating patterns, and focused on connecting Eastern and Western lifestyle habits, as well as healthful practices.
“Lokvale Group has been utilising the wonderful research data in our restaurants to raise the standards of the food we offer. We have tailored our menus to suit the seasons, and to use organically grown ingredients and spices in our dishes."
The point of difference
Zhang explains the Lokvale Group is focused on differentiating its offering from the rest through a focus on both the customer and the quality of its products.
“We want to become the best in our industry and to always put our customers as our top priority. If something is not up to standard, we will work tirelessly to change and correct it – we’re not satisfied unless our customers are.
“Most people associate Asian food with the traditional Chinese takeaway. We offer so much more than noodles or rice in a clear plastic box,” she adds.
“Lokvale Group specialises in the entire experience, not just the food. For us, customer satisfaction ranks as high as the food itself.”
Zhang is well aware of the increasing popularity of Asian food in Australia, as well as people's expectations when they dine out. “Not only are Australians demanding higher quality food, they are also showing interest in how the dishes are made.
“This is great to see, as it is exactly what we stand for. We want our customers to appreciate every aspect of the dish – from the ingredients and cooking process to the taste.”
The franchisee offering
Zhang says support is provided to franchisees from the day they join the business. “As soon as franchisees join the Lokvale Group team, they will have all the help and support they need to get started and on track to running a successful franchise.”
To begin, new franchisees take part in an initial training program which is delivered by experienced staff. “There is a 30 day initial training program covering all aspects of the establishment and operation of a Lok Lok Dumpling Bar franchise business,” she explains.
There’s also assistance before and after the opening of the franchisee’s store. “We fully support the opening of every new Lokvale Group operation, and will provide further on-site training and operational backing to the franchisee.
“This will include up to 30 days of supplementary training, where the franchisee works under on-site supervision immediately after the launch,” says Zhang.
“There will be ongoing regular visits to each franchised business, along with reporting, sales, marketing and technical advice available by phone every working day.”
Are you the right fit?
“Prospective franchisees will ideally have experience in the food, catering, dining or related industries,” says Zhang.
“They will have entrepreneurial and/or managerial credentials, drive, dedication and a commitment to Lokvale Group’s values, and be focused on delivering exceptional customer service.”
All images: Lokvale Group