Monday, November 16, 2009

1901 Hotdog

(Post: English)
"Tengku Rozidar T.Z. Abidin and Ahmad Zaki Jaafar, the husband-and-wife team behind the conceptualisation, development and marketing of hotdog company Nineteen O One Sdn Bhd, show that nothing is impossible if you put your heart, soul and mind to it."

They started their business in the midst of the economic crisis in 1997 with RM100,000, lessons from a failed foreign-owned franchise and six months of toying around with various recipe books.

Today, this homegrown brand boasts 68 outlets, 17 of which are owned by the parent company.

According to Tengku Rozidar, there are no less than 30 enquiries per day and four applications per week to become 1901 franchisees.

1901 has been awarded Super Brand status two years in a row.

"Things were not always that rosy," said Tengku Rozidar when met at her outlet in the new wing of 1 Utama shopping centre, Petaling Jaya."

"To start with, we had to think of how to sell a Malaysian hotdog for RM3.90 from a push cart! We finally decided to position it as an imported product - hence the name 1901, the year the name 'hotdog' was supposedly coined in the New York Polo Grounds," she explained.

Tengku Rozidar was quick to add that chicken breast meat and prime beef cuts, not mechanically deboned meat, was used in making 1901 hotdogs.

"We make sure that our customers are buying a quality product. In fact, the vinegar that is used in our relish is not artificial vinegar but Heinz distilled vinegar, which is very expensive," she added.

The soft-spoken but confident lady is a firm believer in hard work. She puts in more than 12 hours a day and strongly agrees that an entrepreneur must be creative, resourceful and have the ability to strategise.

For Tengku Rozidar and her husband, the real measure of their success is when 10 out of 10 hotdog lovers know the 1901 brand and what it has to offer.

"A lot of money has been ploughed back into research and development, and the franchise support department meets four hours per week to come up with strategies to make the 1901 hotdog more nutritious and convenient to the public," she said.

"Our hotdog is steamed as consumers are more health-conscious nowadays."

Their continual efforts at improvement and sensitivity towards customers' needs saw 1901 introducing meat-free hotdog in their menu in September.

Potential franchisees are put through the mill before being accepted. First, they take a test to see if they have what it takes to be an entrepreneur and then they have to go through two interviews.

One of the many challenges, said Tengku Rozidar, was getting franchisees to see the importance of working as a single entity rather than just an agent.

"Although we visit them regularly, they have to be pro-active and come up with localised marketing plans," she explained.

Keeping regular checks to ensure that the product remains consistent in all the outlets is another gruelling task.

"I want 1901 to have a wholesome image, to be associated with the right universal values and to be a halal brand wherever it goes," she emphasised.

The cost of starting the business, which includes franchise fees, equipment and rental deposits, varies from RM75,000 to RM200,000.

The couple's final dream is to start a 1901 Leadership Academy to produce outstanding young entrepreneurs.

Source: The Star Online

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