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Sansotei Ramen attracts new customers with Uber Eats

September 28, 2023 | Canada

Sansotei Ramen founder Michael Zhang was on his first-ever trip to Japan with his wife and business partner Chigusa when he tasted the noodle soup that would change his life forever. “I was instantly hooked on ramen. And was like—Man, this is so good I could eat it every day.”

Fast forward to 2011. Determined to unleash his inner entrepreneur—and with ramen still on his mind—Michael quit his corporate restaurant job, hired a translator and flew to Japan where he studied how to make perfect handmade noodles and rich ramen broth—all from scratch. “It was pretty intense.”

Ready to apply his new skills, Michael flew home to Toronto, and began cooking “day and night” for months to create his menu. And, when this master of umami had it all balanced to perfection, he took out a second mortgage and opened the first Sansotei location in Toronto, Canada. That was the summer of 2012. Fast forward to 2023 and Sansotei has grown to 19 locations, with a goal of expanding to 20 stores in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal by year-end.

locations

growth in new customers

return on ad spend

Today, Sansotei’s small menu features appetizers, desserts, and eight kinds of ramen, including their signature tonkotsu—a traditional slow-cooked pork broth. Michael prides himself on the fast and friendly service company-wide.

Roady-ready ramen

“In Japan, there’s virtually no takeout ramen,” Michael explains. “It’s considered too delicate. The taste, the temperature, the presentation… Everything has to be just so. Plus, sitting down for ramen is an experience.

Regardless of the challenge, Michael introduced delivery to his restaurants in early 2020, just ahead of the Pandemic shut-down, which meant he was better prepared than many to respond to the radical changes that came with COVID. Delivery required a complete overhaul of the company’s operational procedures and a redesign of the company’s packaging.

On average, Uber Eats orders now represent about 30% of Sansotei’s overall revenue. “I have to admit, the ratio is almost perfect. I never want to become dependent on any single partner or platform. At 30% delivery, we’re pulling in amazing numbers.”

An exclusive relationship

Sansotei has an exclusive relationship with Uber Eats, which means their restaurants don’t appear on any other third-party delivery apps. Exclusivity includes ongoing support from an experienced account manager, and access to Uber Eats special promotions throughout the year. Michael believes exclusivity is the best way to get the most from his relationship with Uber Eats, which he describes as “a truly collaborative partnership. It really is one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made.”

It's all about quality

“I’m obsessed with quality food at a great value,” Michael admits. “I want my customers to get the biggest bang for their buck.” Sansotei’s prices on some items are higher online to help offset the cost of Uber’s delivery fees. Michael uses the insights provided on his Uber Eats dashboard to track the effect of pricing changes on his order volume and feels confident he is making the right decision for his customers and his bottom line. “Customers accept they’re paying for the convenience of having it delivered. They understand there’s a price for that.”

Ads & offers attract new customers

Michael has been using Uber Eats Ads and Offers together to attract a record number of new customers, up 28% in the first half of 2023. “Our customers really respond to our promos, especially the BOGO deals.” says Michael, who relies on Victoria, his Uber account manager, for her insights and advice when it comes to managing in-app ads and offers. “Victoria is always available to help brainstorm strategy. She gives me advice on how to set the right budgets and the most effective targeting, ensuring we maximize our return on ad spend.”

"The big advantage of partnering with Uber Eats is that we’re able to attract large numbers of new customers in the Uber Eats app.”

Michael Zhang, Owner & Operator Sansotei

No time to waste time

In addition to ongoing support from his account manager, Michael regularly reviews performance reports available on his Uber Eats dashboard. The insights help him keep close tabs on his Ads and Offers, so he knows which are working best. “When something works, you want to keep it going. When I get a $7-$10 return for every dollar I spend on Uber Eats Ads , they make it easy for me to grow my sales profitably, one bowl of ramen at a time.”

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