Interview with Mr Abdul Ahad Shaikh – CEO, Mehfil Pvt Ltd
PAGE: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF PLEASE:
ABDUL AHAD SHAIKH: I am 35 years of age and have done graduation & diploma in business administration. I belong to a Sindhi family (Sukkur, Sindh). I have two brothers and two sisters. My father is a doctor.
I started business of Event Management Mehfil Event Planner (www.mehfil.com.pk) in 2005. We are one of the few leading caterers in Karachi. We are a group of professional and experienced individuals who have joined hands to bring quality and grace in catering. Our top management comprises of young energetic individuals who have been affiliated with the catering and hospitality industry. They have been practically involved in the operations related to catering, event management, sales and marketing, customer services and have to their credit lots of successful events.
Our operation force has also been exposed to high profile catering business for many years and is authentically personal and expert in what they do. In addition to experience in wedding related functions, we have immense exposure and expertise in organizing corporate functions, theme dinner and much more.
Our decoration, crockery, cutlery and other related items/accessories are top class and are being regularly upgraded. We take extra care of hygiene while organizing any event. Unfortunately, in Pakistan people by and large ignore health and safety measures but we give preference to that. We even welcome our clients input in creating new concepts as per their desire.
PAGE: TELL US ABOUT YOUR CLIENTELE:
ABDUL AHAD SHAIKH: At Mehfil, we have a comprehensive and diverse range of customers. The organizations and groups listed below are all loyal customers; most have used us on many occasions and with some we have now achieved approved and/or nominated caterer status; catering for all major events held by them.
List of current clients includes:
• IBA (Main Campus Karachi)
• Preston University Karachi
• Foundation Public School
• NED University
• Karachi University
• Lily Pharma
• NCHD (Federal Govt)
• Avicenna School
• City School
• Polani Call Centre
• KNS Institute
• Iqra University
PAGE: DO GUESTS CARE FOR THE BRANDED FOOD PRODUCTS IN WEDDING CEREMONIES IN PAKISTAN?
ABDUL AHAD SHAIKH: Yes, people have very good inclination towards branded food. Especially taste is important thing in Pakistan. Branded foods are very much liked by Pakistanis. People have good sense differentiating between good and quality food products. Therefore, catering business is at its full swing in Pakistan. Guests first priority is to have branded food and beverages in Pakistani weddings, like if we provide them black soda water instead of Pepsi or Coca Cola, they refuse to drink.
PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON THE VALUE OF BRANDING FOR CATERING BUSINESS IN PAKISTAN?
ABDUL AHAD SHAIKH: Well, it is really important in every business to make it a famous brand. Once a business becomes brand, it is big achievement and guarantee for success. In fact branding can help increase the business. Brand helps us connect with our customers emotionally.
A good brand connects with people at an emotional level. Customers feel good when they buy the branded thing. Purchasing is an emotional experience and having a strong brand helps people feel good at an emotional level when they engage with the company.
Branding involves every aspect of a customer’s experience from our logo to our website, our social media posts, staff uniform and advertising. It even encompasses the way in which we answer the phone to interact with customers.
In a nutshell, a brand is the way in which our customer perceives us and specially in the catering business, it is really important to make it a big famous brand and that’s how we can grab the market .The value of branding for catering business plays an important role as a delightful menu, tasty food and top-notch catering services can lead to a marvelous wedding.
Weddings in Pakistan are actually recalled by the food that was served, thereby an unprofessional caterers and bland food would leave a really bad impression. Therefore, in order to make the wedding a memorable and worthwhile event, it is recommended to select the best caterer and here comes the value of a brand.
PAGE: TELL US ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF MEHFIL PVT LTD AND WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU WITNESSED IN THIS BUSINESS FROM THE COMPETITION POINT OF VIEW?
ABDUL AHAD SHAIKH: Mehfil has been lucky for last few years due to strong competitive strategy in all areas of service. We believe in quality and quantity while serving our clients.
Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value. Moreover, the essence of strategy is choosing to perform activities differently than rivals.
Strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable position involving a different set of activities. The strategic plan for every event should be different and according to the need of the customers.
PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON FAMOUS CATERING COMPANIES IN PAKISTAN:
ABDUL AHAD SHAIKH: All time top companies are the apple eyes of people but personally I would like to say that they just make the most of their goodwill. Their, sometimes, services are very unsatisfied. In my view, small caterers can also provide the best but again in Pakistan, “brand name is everything”.
Wedding in Pakistan is all about food and décor, or you can say Pakistani weddings are famous all over the world for two major things; first for their elegant and delicately designed dresses and second for their wedding cuisines. However, most guests are usually concerned about the food only. Therefore one must make a right decision before hiring a caterer.
One should take necessary steps that might help in finding a caterer that best suits their needs. The famous catering companies such as Time & Taste Caterers, Dean’s Caterers, Azeem Caterers, La Rosh Caterers, Gourmet Caterers offer a number of packages.