The recipe for success for a female Turkish restaurateur

Defne Ertan Tuysuzoglu

To help her to succeed in Turkey's male-dominated business community, female restaurateur Defne Ertan Tuysuzoglu says she followed a simple recipe.

"Business is a man's world [in Turkey], and I found that being a woman you have less room to make a mistake than a man," says the 42-year-old.

"It may be sometimes difficult for male employees to take orders from a woman.

"Therefore you have to be very disciplined, hardworking, and especially - be fair to all your employees."

In a country where fewer than one in 10 business owners are female (according to the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey), Ms Tuysuzoglu is held up as a role model for young women thinking of setting up their own companies.

Start Quote

In traditional lokantas you have excellent food, but maybe sometimes - how should I say - they are not as sanitised as you would think”

End Quote Defne Ertan Tuysuzoglu

The business she herself leads is self-service restaurant chain Kirkpinar.

She and her partners opened their first Kirkpinar restaurant seven years ago. They took the name from a region of Turkey which is renowned for the quality of its meat.

Now the company has 33 branches across the country, and plans to open five more later this year.

Ms Tuysuzoglu launched the business in 2007 after she had returned to Turkey following a number of years working in restaurants in the US and UK.

'Hospital clean'

From the outset she says cleanliness has been key to the success of the chain, which has positioned itself as a fresh, modern Turkish restaurant.

The idea, says Ms Tuysuzoglu, was to evoke the feel of a "lokanta", the traditional Turkish restaurant, but just make it a lot cleaner.

Customer at a Kirkpinar branch The chain has a self-service model, with customers needing to queue up

She explains: "In traditional lokantas you have excellent food, but maybe sometimes - how should I say - they are not as sanitised as you would think.

"[In contrast], it was very important for us that we should be healthy, and clean. Super clean, like hospital clean."

Start Quote

Since I started working as a restaurant manager when I was just 25 years old in the US, I learned quickly how to work with people and how to be accepted”

End Quote Defne Ertan Tuysuzoglu

To help ensure that each restaurant is as clean as possible, the company sends out regular inspection crews, which Ms Tuysuzoglu often joins.

To further keep the outlets on their toes, Ms Tuysuzoglu also makes surprise visits on her own. To prevent branch managers from warning each other that she is on her way she makes sure she does not simply go from one restaurant to another that's nearby.

And despite being a founding boss of the business, she also does occasional shifts helping out in the restaurants.

"I have worked as a cashier, I have worked in the grill area... or wherever I'm needed."

For Ms Tuysuzoglu this is part of what it takes to be a good leader.

She explains: "I never had this attitude of 'I'm a top executive, I'm not going to go to the store.'

"I always wanted to be connected, both with the staff, and with the guests."

Customer demand

Ms Tuysuzoglu adds that the business' modernity also extends to its food. While it serves traditional Turkish dishes, such as koftas or meatballs, it aims for the dishes to be healthier than the norm.

"We modernised the Turkish cuisine a little bit, and mostly use ovens, instead of deep frying," says Ms Tuysuzoglu.

Kebab Kirkpinar gets its name from a region of Turkey known for the quality of its meat

However, Kirkpinar's commitment to healthy cooking met a challenge from an unexpected source - its customers.

"Some guests came and said, 'You are from Kirkpinar region - why don't you have the liver?'" says Ms Tuysuzoglu, referring to a traditional Turkish dish called edirne yaprak cigeri, which is a deep-fried liver.

Start Quote

We find role models, and promote them to society”

End Quote Gulseren Onanc Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey

Because the business favoured baking, rather than deep frying, Ms Tuysuzoglu said they had decided not to serve the popular dish.

But the will of their customers won out in the end. And for Ms Tuysuzoglu it was a lesson in the need to be open to adapting.

"We said, 'OK - guests want that. So we should be flexible in that sense.'"

The decision to incorporate the fried liver into their menu was a profitable one, as it now accounts for a third of Kirkpinar's sales, which totalled $23m (£14m) last year.

Educational work

With a degree in hospitality management from Istanbul's Bogazici University, and another in business from Michigan State University in the US, Ms Tuysuzoglu has spent her entire working life in the restaurant sector.

She says her time in the US was particularly helpful in honing her managerial skills.

A Kirkpinar branch The business now has 33 branches across Turkey

"Since I started working as a restaurant manager when I was just 25 years old in the US, I learned quickly how to work with people and how to be accepted," she says.

"You also need to build your team and coach them."

Now back in her homeland, and firmly established as a leading light in the country's restaurant scene, Ms Tuysuzoglu's story is used by the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey to inspire more females to start their own businesses.

"We find role models, and promote them to society," says Gulseren Onanc, the association's chair person.

Ms Tuysuzoglu is also passing on her own knowledge by teaching restaurant management and cost analysis at Ozyegin University in Istanbul.

She is also a director of the Turkish branch of Le Cordon Bleu, the French culinary institute, which is based at Ozyegin.

By realising her own goals of helping to modernise Turkish cuisine, Ms Tuysuzoglu is well placed to help others - both men and women - achieve success in the country's restaurant industry.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    CENTRICA PROFITS 07:50:

    Outgoing boss Sam Laidlaw says profit per household in 2014 expected to be around £40 (£51 before tax), that's 20% lower than in 2013. He also warns that profits won't be as good this year as last.

     
  2.  
    LLOYDS BANK PROFITS 07:46:

    OK.... so those legacy issues in full. Lloyds says these include set aside payments for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) of £600m and £226m for Lloyds' involvement in the 2012 Libor interest rate rigging scandal and fiddling the repo rate. Lloyds also paid out £1.1bn to investors as part of a scheme that is seeing it buy back fixed income bonds - known as Enhanced Capital Notes - issued in 2009. That was then partly offset by a pensions credit of £710m, the bank says.

     
  3.  
    CENTRICA PROFITS 07:42:

    Prices now: The company says average actual British Gas customer bill is expected to be around £90 lower - 7% - per household in 2014 than last year.

     
  4.  
    LLOYDS BANK PROFITS 07:36:
    A general view of a sign for Lloyds Bank.

    So, good results for TSB on the face of it but not so good for parent Lloyds Banking Group which has reported a big fall in statutory pre-tax profits to £863m in the six months to the end of June from £2.1bn for the same period a year. That's a fall of nearly 60%. It says it took another hit of £1.1bn for what it initially describes as legacy issues - we'll investigate that and tell you what they are momentarily.

     
  5.  
    CENTRICA PROFITS 07:33:

    Energy regulator Ofegm said this week that UK suppliers' profits would grow from 4% to 8% this year, but Centrica said its profit margins would be lower for the year.

     
  6.  
    ASTRA ZENECA RESULTS 07:29:
    AstraZeneca

    The drugs giant recently beat off a $118bn takeover attempt by US giant rival Pfizer. One of the key planks of its defence was its drugs "pipeline" - the products it is creating and hopes will work safely. There's a full report on how that's going here.

     
  7.  
    TSB PROFITS 07:25:
    A woman walks into a branch of TSB bank

    A huge rise in profits at TSB today, although hard to really gauge properly given it was only recently spun off from parent Lloyds Banking Group. It says statutory pre-tax profits in the six month to the end of June rose 164% to £128.5m compared with the six months to the end of December 2013. The bank says the statutory figure when compared to the first six months of 2013 is "of limited benefit".

     
  8.  
    ASTRA ZENECA RESULTS 07:23:

    Drugs giant Astra Zeneca reports second quarter revenue rose 4% to $6.5bn.

     
  9.  
    BALFOUR BEATTY TALKS OFF 07:21:

    Construction company Balfour Beatty has called off talks with Carillion over a possible £3bn merger - just days after the possible deal was first mentioned. There may be interesting share price reaction to that when the markets open in under an hour.

     
  10.  
    SHELL PROFITS 07:19:

    Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has reported profits doubled in its second quarter to $5.1bn (£3bn) from $2.4bn a year earlier.

     
  11.  
    BNP PARIBAS 07:19:
    BNP PARIBAS

    Giant French bank BNP Paribas reports a loss of 4.3bn euros (£3.4bn), after being whacked by an $8.95bn fine for breaking US sanctions, but BNP said the underlying result was strong and a sign clients had not been scared off. The loss was its first since the 2008 financial crisis.

     
  12.  
    CENTRICA PROFITS 07:18:

    Centrica's headline profit before tax for the six months to end of June is £890m, 40% down on last time.

     
  13.  
    BT PROFITS 07:14:

    Yet another major company reporting today. BT says revenue up 0.5% percent on an underlying basis to £4.4bn and profits flat at £1.4bn. It says there's record demand for superfast broadband and its sports TV service is growing nicely.

     
  14.  
    DIAGEO RESULTS 07:11:

    Drinks giant Diageo reports profits of £2.7bn, down from £3.06bn.

     
  15.  
    CENTRICA PROFITS 07:08:

    Operating profits for its British Gas residential energy supply fell 26%, Centrica says.

     
  16.  
    CENTRICA PROFITS 07:03:

    The energy giant's statutory pre-tax profit for the six months to end of June are £890m, down 40% on last time.

     
  17.  
    CENTRICA PROFITS 06:49: BBC Radio 4

    More from Trevor Sikorski, this time on Centrica, which releases its half-year results shortly. He tells Today: "We are expecting quite a dramatic fall in profits at Centrica and at the moment, their cost base isn't representing that fall in gas prices - essentially because energy companies bulk buy - and so the gas they bought on the wholesale prices won't have fed through yet, but will do later down the line."

     
  18.  
    ENERGY PROFITS 06:49: BBC Radio 4

    Energy company profits are all being driven by "a big reduction in wholesale power prices," Trevor Sikorski, from consultants Energy Aspects, tells Today "When you have a mild winter, you don't use a lot of gas and you don't draw down gas reserves," He adds consumers are as responsible for the state of the market as the energy firms themselves. They "generally don't switch very much" and "we're not sensitive to price changes when they happen, which isn't encouraging competition," he says.

     
  19.  
    SAMSUNG SLOWDOWN 06:41:
    Samsung products

    Smartphone maker Samsung reports its worst quarterly profit in two years as smartphone sales slow. Net profit for the three months to June fell 20% to 6.3 trillion won ($6.1bn).

     
  20.  
    ARGENTINA DEFAULT 06:33: BBC Radio 4

    "The repercussions of a default are coming through and we're going to see Argentina under pressure and inflation running higher and the country falling further into recession," Eimar Day from foreign exchange company Monex Europe tells the Today programme. Argentina is paying 7% on its bonds so why should bondholders be surprised when it defaults? she asks. "These are risky investments and creditors should have been prepared for that." Investors should also allow countries like Argentina to default and get back on their feet, she argues.

     
  21.  
    ENERGY PROFITS 06:24:
    Light bulbs

    Energy regulator Ofgem says the big six energy firms could double their profit margins from 4% to 8% over the coming year, FROM 4% TO 8%. That's the equivalent of making £100 per dual-fuel customer.

     
  22.  
    MANU SHARE SALE 06:16:
    Joel Glazer, left, Bryan Glazer, center, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers team owner and president Malcolm Glazer Malcolm Glazer (right) with his sons Joel and Bryan.

    Another development late last night was news the Glazers sold 5% of their stake in Manchester United - raising about £90m.

     
  23.  
    US ECONOMY 06:09: Radio 5 live

    Eimar Day from foreign exchange company Monex Europe is on Wake Up to Money, looking at Wednesday's news the US economy is growing at 4% a year. She's not convinced it's all that great: "Most of it was rebuilding inventory. There's an armchair labour market in the US. People who have just given up looking for work. The unemployment rate is 6.1%, which gives a glowing image of the US economy, but the economically inactive do not show up in this data."

     
  24.  
    ARGENTINA DEFAULT 06:01: Radio 5 live

    Argentina in default this morning after the collapse of last-minute talks in New York between its government and a group of bond-holders. But the rest of the world need not worry too much, James Lockhart Smith, Latin America analyst for Maplecroft, tells Wake Up to Money: "Negative news for the Argentina economy as a whole but it is unlikely to spread to other countries."

     
  25.  
    06:01: Matthew West Business Reporter

    Morning folks. You can get in touch with us as always via email bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or you can tweet us @bbcbusiness.

     
  26.  
    06:00: Rebecca Marston Business reporter, BBC News

    Welcome to Thursday's Business Live. It's all about energy this morning as we wait for Centrica's results - as regulator Ofgem says the biggest six firms are set to double their profit margins over the next year.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.