There is a small restaurant here at the heart of Kuwait City called Sharaf. This is the restaurant’s only branch. The restaurant has been in business for almost 40 years. All Sharaf servers is falafel and hummus. That’s it: just falafel and hummus. Over the years, Sharaf has become THE trade name of falafel. Many people here believe it’s the best falafel restaurant in Kuwait. But what has led Sharaf to decide to sell only these two items? Why did the restaurant decide NOT to sell tens of other varieties of fastfood meals that many other restaurants serve? How about growth? How about expansion?
Sharaf does not have vision and mission statements. It doesn’t even have a website. It doesn’t have a corporate strategy or a Chief Strategy Officer. It doesn’t have a board of directors. And I am sure its owner(s) did not hire an international consultancy firm to help them with their strategic planning process. I can imagine the founders of Sharaf saying: “We will only serve falafel and hummus and nothing else. We will make the best falafel in Kuwait.” Such business model has significant implications, particularly in terms of operation efficiency. By focusing on only few items, Sharaf minimizes the cost of unutilized inventory and the need for human expertise and labor. Another strategic decision Sharaf made is its location. Kuwait City is not a residential area. All it contains are government buildings and businesses. This makes people who work in this area mainly want to eat something on the go. That’s why Sharaf does not offer dine-in. Just takeaway orders.
Whether this has been the right strategy is something that we might never know, tut having survived for 40 years, Sharaf mist have been doing something right. And there is a lesson here for businesses. In this age of intense competition, complex business environment, and amazing technological changes, trying to be everything to everyone is probably not a good idea. Current dynamic market conditions force companies to be more focussed by deciding whom to serve, what to offer, and where to play.