Success Story Guatelama / Making it through corona with quality cuisine and service

Thanks to the remote consultancy of our SEC expert Christoph Ramseier, the Grand Cowboys Steak House in Santa Lucía Milpas Altas, Guatemala, was able to take off running after the corona lockdown and preserve the jobs of 30 employees. This was a result of new business strategies and better monitoring of processes and costs.

In order to achieve these results, the existing business concept first had to be analysed. Based on this analysis, an adapted business strategy was created which prioritised the owner’s numerous creative ideas. The costs/benefits and financial possibilities were verified in advance and the effectiveness of the measures was assessed. The next step was creating a business plan together, which can now be used for two years. The success after the reopening showed that the right measures and ideas had been prioritised and ultimately implemented.

The steakhouse’s market position has also been enhanced. It has now established itself as a weekend destination for families. In terms of events and seminars, however, the SEC expert still feels that the restaurant has more potential and opportunities in this area.

One challenge of the collaboration was the technology: computer problems, unstable internet connection and occasional lack of power supply. The interruptions were constant. Sometimes it took several attempts to actually finish a meeting.

About the client
The Grand Cowboys Steak House is an excursion and adventure restaurant located in a rural area – about a 30-minute drive from Guatemala City – which is also an ideal place to relax, read, birdwatch or simply find some inspiration. The steakhouse stands out from the competition with its first-class cuisine, high-quality meat selection, and breakfast and brunch buffets on the weekends. It was conceptualised and is operated by the owners as the “top-of-the-line” model of a franchise for good steak. The trademark is also currently used by licensees in numerous food stands and restaurants in shopping malls and small shops in Guatemala as well as other countries in the region.

The steakhouse, with its 130 seats and large garden, was opened in November 2019. After only four months of operation, it had to be temporarily closed due to Covid-19. It did not officially reopen until August 2020.

The garden turned out to be a great opportunity to maintain and even slowly increase the number of seats while adhering to the hygiene and social distancing rules. In the large vegetable garden, the restaurant not only grows its own vegetables organically but also allows customers to pick their own vegetables and buy them from the restaurant.

For children, there is an adventure playground with a forest hut, various pieces of playground equipment and, on weekends, even horses. The stunning scenery offers a wonderful backdrop for souvenir photos of various occasions such as weddings, family celebrations and business trips.

Questions to SEC expert Christoph Ramseier

How would you rate the results achieved in general?
Considering the lockdown situation in Guatemala, the fact that the consultancy took place remotely and the limits of the technology, I would say that a great deal has been achieved. The business strategy and the cost management, which is adjusted according to the results, are both very promising. Even if the losses from the lockdown have not yet been recovered, the continued operation of the restaurant is now assured.

What impressed you most about this digital consultancy assignment?
The cooperation with the owner went very well; it was professional and a lot of fun. In addition to the constructive meetings and to see how suggestions and findings were immediately implemented wherever possible I was very impressed by how Mynor Hiram always had the well-being and jobs of his employees in mind.

The discipline to complete what we had agreed upon from week to week was certainly a cornerstone of the success of this remote assignment, as the expert is not always present like they are with an on-site assignment. The daily work of a company that needs to be run 7 days a week/10 hours a day should not be underestimated. In this type of atmosphere, the strategic work could easily get lost in the shuffle.

What surprised you or what didn’t work as expected?
I was very pleasantly surprised at how quickly we got along and were able to work together to accomplish our goals from week to week. The existing IT infrastructure, including the internet bandwidth in Guatemala, presented a greater challenge than I initially expected. And not only for the online meetings. Since we also had to concentrate on the essentials when it came to finances, it was not possible to improve the hardware or the POS system.

Where did you encounter limits with this type of consultancy?
It was not possible to involve employees in the analysis and improvement of processes. This meant that it took a lot longer and that introducing appropriate management tools was also not possible. Though you can, of course, explain certain things, it is not the same as when you stand next to the people on-site and can show and explain things to them one-to-one.

Have you been in contact with the client since the end of the assignment? With what type of support?
Yes. At the end of the year, the owner reported to me that the Grand Cowboys Steak House was still doing well, even if business had, as expected, decreased somewhat since the beginning of the year (in the off season). Since March, however, the steakhouse has been very affected by the third Covid wave and has had to deal with temporary closings.

How do you assess the client’s situation after the corona pandemic?
That’s a tough question. In general, the Grand Cowboys Steak House has already established itself and has a good reputation due to the high quality of the service and food. However, in a country where there is little to no help at all for companies during Covid closings, the outlook is not particularly rosy. Nevertheless, with the owner’s strong will to succeed and if the support from the staff continues as it has so far the company’s chance of survival is good.