Benihana is a Japanese restaurant chain operating in Japan. A few years ago, the management has decided to expand their products and services in the United States. The opening, although challenging, later on turned out to be a huge success, thanks to the features and qualities that made Benihana restaurants stand out among other restaurants and fast-food chains in a rather volatile and highly competitive food and food services market. Benihana has been known for its Japanese-style steaks, which after a few years of operation in the west, turned out to be very much liked by Americans and Europeans, despite their different taste and cooking preferences. Benihana also offers other Japanese foods—authentic Japanese foods at that. All major ingredients are shipped directly from Japan. All personnel and staff are Japanese and lastly, all major raw materials used in the construction and in the design of the place were shipped from the Japanese mainland. This was done in order to preserve the integrity of the company’s claim as one of the very few authentic Japanese steakhouses in continental United States. Aside from authentic Japanese foods and steaks, Benihana also offers drinks and beverages. They recently introduced a bar as an extension to their food section. Initially, they opened a small bar only but after discovering that the people liked to drink and eat their foods at the same time, they expanded the bar section of their restaurants. Now, they are offering a wider variety of drinks and beverages. Being a Japanese restaurant, their services are mostly comprised of food-related services.
Central Issue and Other Main Problems
The way how Benihana took care of its image as an authentic Japanese restaurant yielded outstanding results as evidenced by their performance in terms of sales and profits, for the past decades of operation in the United States. However, there were several major shifts in market trends and consumer behavior that inevitably decreased the impact of the center of Benihana management’s strategy—Japanese authenticity. If Benihana would have one major problem, that would be their overreliance to Japanese culture and the authenticity of their restaurant. Times are changing and so is the food market and industry in the U.S. Another problem would their lack of focus and attention on the marketing and advertising aspect of their management. They have this unique perspective when it comes to advertising that sets them apart from all other countless restaurants in the country. The management believes that they have a visual product to sell and so advertising and marketing efforts should not be the focus of the management, but rather product and service quality. This is partly true because Benihana is a restaurant and not really a line of clothes which usually relies on the level of advertising for sale and share in the market.
Current Events at Benihana of Tokyo
In the past, Benihana management did not focus on opening up slots for franchise opportunities that will be given to businessmen who would like to try experience becoming a part of the Benihana family. One of the reasons why they did not place much of their attention to such is the poor success rate of their franchised branches, which could practically degrade their premium image as a restaurant and steakhouse. In recent years, they have focused more in making amendments to their franchise offers. They now have a clearer set of standards, rules, regulations, and policies for franchise applicants. However, they do limit the number of franchise stores they approve, as evidenced by the current number of Benihana stores in the U.S. and internationally. Also, they already have a properly maintained and updated website that offers updated information about the company’s roots and history, and also the current line of products and services that they offer to prospective customers.
Recommendations and Alternatives
One of the major areas in Benihana that needs to be improved is their conventional view on advertising. If they will keep on posting conservative and boring ads on the newspapers and in television, they would surely suffer from the consequences of poor company awareness and later on, a poor client base, which would definitely hurt their business in the long run. They should be more enthusiastic and creative and they should also exert more effort in advertising not only the company, but also the lines of products and services that it can offer. It is an established fact that their steaks, foods, drinks, beverages, and most importantly, their services deserve a five star remark, but now might be a good time to reflect on their shortcomings when it comes to letting the public know that they do offer such products and services. Another recommendation for the management of Benihana is that they should be less resistive to change. They should adapt to the changes in the market. This way, they will suffer less from negative unpredictable changes in market trends and behavior. Of course, there will always be a way for them to balance their trademarks such as the Japanese authenticity of their branches and their less resistance to change.