Anyone who has patronised Kow Pow Coffee Shop in Bentong will realise that they have a right marketing formula for success.

Although some may say that the ice cream is pricey for a small town, from the marketing point of view, they have got all three other P’s correct.

Besides the product, location (place) and customer loyalty (mainly domestic tourists), there is also a fast turnover of guests. There is also a lack of competition; after all, people come to Bentong, they are looking for something local that is cheap and nice.

Image via TripAdvisor

Unlike the commercially factory-produced ice creams, here the ice cream is manufactured in small batches using fresh ingredients every day. This helps them to sustain just for the day’s business.

This is important as most customers can feel the freshness of the ingredients that they use; for that reason, they come back for more, bringing their friends along. Cleanliness is also very important when patrons bring their expatriate friends. The word of mouth spreads:

“Whenever you go to Bentong, go for their ice cream.”

The downside is that some of the locals start to boycott the place because they find the prices becoming too steep for them; this is why anyone in the restaurant business must always learn to be appreciative of local support as well. Sometimes, I boycott certain restaurants because of the attitude of its owners or staff, which shows the importance of People in the marketing equation.

Like in Penang, Gurney Drive has become the place for tourists, but domestic tourists like me are avoiding such places because we know the place has become too artificially commercialised. A lack of local fans also show that something may not be right with the prices or the attitude of the hawkers there.

But until there is a stronger competitor, with the right pricing for equally good ice cream and its proprietors are more people friendly, business can only grow stronger for Kow Po Coffee Shop.

Besides me giving them media publicity in most English dailies that I was writing for as a part time writer in the past, there are other newspapers and food bloggers who have given them the boost.

Word of mouth is very important in the food and beverage business. After the articles appear, people will check out the place. When they like it, they will tell others about it (like the ant scout telling its friends where the sweet stuff is) and soon people will follow the crowd.

Today, aided by social media, word of mouth can spread very fast for the better or for the worse. It is a challenge that every restaurant operator faces to ensure that they have their four (some say five) P’s correct – Product, Price, People and Place.

Even I am drawn to this coffee shop every time my family make a trip to Bukit Tinggi or Genting Highlands even if we have to drive another 15 km to Bentong, or like on this occasion after a night’s stay at the beautiful eco-resort of Tanah Aina Farrah Soraya in Raub.

After a short drive to Raub to try out the famous Ratha Raub’s original fish head curry, we checked out Kow Po Coffee Shop, which is located just beside Hong Leong Bank (or opposite the Bentong bus station).

Keeping to just one shop also means that the shop is always packed during peak hours but the number of customers at any one point in time is manageable by the number of staff working.

Most people, especially those from outstation, will tend to flock to an eatery which looks packed than one that is empty. This is why after nearly 20 years of watching their business grow, I have decided not only to write about their ice cream, but make a simple analysis that will provide some good insights for other restauranteurs.

Click here to read about Kow Po Coffee Shop and what it has to offer.