Interview with Jason Wang, Benkei Hime CEO


May 13, 2024   Can you tell me little bit about how the Benkei Hime concept came about?

Jason Wang:   I am always interested in trendy culture, fashion, sports, travel, and beverages and I wondered if we could combine all this in an East meets West environment.

We wanted to create a unique culture that is not offered anywhere in the world, a culture that is not only the first of its kind but is also not replicable.

BH is a platform where young people can express themselves, exchange thoughts, and enjoy culture, arts, fashion, delicious drinks, sports, and more.

.   You have a very unusual company name. What does it mean?

Jason Wang:   Benkei Hime means princess and beautiful lady in traditional Japanese, Chinese and Korean. We wanted a name that was as unique as our brand. Like IKEA™. BH is the first and only brand of its kind. We take pride in the novelty and uniqueness of our approach.

.   What sets your bubble tea franchise apart from others in the market?

Jason Wang:   We are NOT a traditional bubble tea store. We are not even trying to directly compete with any of them. We offer a total immersive world that includes bubble tea, youth culture, streetwear apparel, accessories, and sports equipment and many more things to come. In fact, I believe every time you come to BH, you will see and experience something new and exciting on each visit.

.   How has the bubble tea industry evolved since your franchise started, and what changes have taken place since you started?

Jason Wang:   Bubble tea has now become a worldwide phenomenon. It's not just a beverage; it's a cultural movement. It’s a perfect blend of tradition and modern innovation, a real symbol of culinary creativity. We strive to upend the usual approach to bubble tea creation. With our exclusive range of flavours, natural ingredients, and signature Hime toppings, we offer a modern twist to this traditional drink.

.   Locations are key in this industry. How do you select locations for new franchise outlets, and what factors contribute to a successful Benkei Hime location?

Jason Wang:   Our focus is on finding high-traffic areas in major trending markets. Due to the widespread acceptance of bubble tea in the general market, we have a variety of options. We've been developing stores of many sizes, ranging from 2000 square feet flagship stores to 400 square feet mini stores in major shopping malls and commercial plazas.

.   What marketing strategies have been effective in promoting your franchise and attracting customers?

Jason Wang:   This is where Benkei Hime has a real edge. BH is well known for its fashion gear, trendy clothes, high-end Instagram™ worthy beverages. Our customers do most of the marketing for us with their continual posting on social media sites. It makes our job easier.

.   Can you discuss any recent innovations or new developments, such as menu additions or technology integration?

Jason Wang:   BH is the brand of choice for families and the younger generation. We are constantly innovating our beverages and accessories based on the latest trends from New York, Tokyo, and Seoul. We've been pleasantly surprised with the demand and interest in many of our newly introduced products, such as limited-edition keychains, noodle bowls, and holiday-themed beverages.

.   How does Benkei Hime ensure consistency in product quality and overall customer experience?

Jason Wang:   We bring novelty and quality service to our customers. This almost never happens unless you keep a focus on training. Our staff understand our culture and what our customers expect before they are given opportunities to serve them. BH is a unique place where everyone can find something they like and enjoy the multi culture, and happy family community atmosphere.

.   What kind of ongoing support do franchisees receive after they've opened their store?

Jason Wang:   We are big on creating new formulas and just as big on showing people how to recreate them. We also have a customer contact program for letting customers know about specials and promotions.

.   The franchise market is ever-changing. How does the company ensure that the franchise remains relevant and competitive?

Jason Wang:   We are constantly innovating our beverages and accessories based on the latest trends from different regions of the world. We're also very aware that our customers love to try new bubble teas, and we know if we keep experimenting, we will give them lots of reasons to come into the store and look at other things as well.

.   Could you describe the process for someone interested in becoming a franchisee? What are the requirements and steps involved?

Jason Wang:   We work closely with Network Franchising. They manage our initial inquiries. The first step would be to talk with Brian at 416 606 8200. He can guide you through the various requirements based on your area.

.   What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the bubble tea industry, and how do you address them?

Jason Wang:   We aim to provide our customers with a new and exciting experience on each visit. The photo activity in our stores tells us that people want memorable outings as well. During our meetings, we reflect on ways to enhance the customer experience. The biggest challenge is to infuse our core values into every transaction while delivering exceptional service. Plus, create some happy experiences along with it.

.   What are the typical startup costs and ongoing fees associated with owning a franchise like yours?

Jason Wang:   With our three Benkei Hime versions, investment levels range from $250,000 - $750,000. The royalty is 5% and the advertising fee is 2%.

.   Are there any aggressive expansion plans or new initiatives in the works? What is your vision for the future of your business?

Jason Wang:   Currently, we are focusing on Ontario and the rest of Canada first, but we do have experience setting up stores in other countries. We have some international interest, and we are looking at how we might incorporate that into our program.

.   Finally, what advice would you give to someone considering investing in a bubble tea franchise?

Jason Wang:   Of course, I would tell them to take a close look at Benkei Hime. But even if I weren’t involved in this business, I'd find lots of reasons to look at our franchise. Today, businesses need multiple streams of income and lots of reasons to keep customers coming back. I'd also tell prospects to take a good look at the innovators in the industry because eventually, these are the stores that succeed.