Interview Invitation from The Tycoon Magazine
20th October, 2020
Robert Ancill – CEO The Next Idea
Always creating and always learning
Robert Ancill, the CEO of the Next Idea group is a leading figure in the hospitality and interior design industries. An authority of emerging food trends, foodservice, and design, Robert is well known as one of America’s leading Global Food and Restaurant Consultants. His principles stand staunch as pillars of creativity, first-class client service, and integrity. Robert built the Next Idea from a one client agency to a well-known international boutique consulting group with a broad range of small, medium, and large clients and an enviable project portfolio. The company split in 2016 and operates consulting services under The Next Idea, www.thenextidea.net, and interior design TNI Design, www.tnidesign.com.
Since 2002 The Next Idea Group has grown into a well-known consulting and design brand with multiple service companies covering design, consulting, and business services. It is essentially a consulting agency specializing in high energy, innovative international restaurant concept development, interior design and architecture, re-positioning, food trend research forecasting, marketing, and restaurant franchising.
Robert’s leadership has done a commendable job, he believes in the strength of creativity and always learning. When asked about his source of motivation, he said “I think it’s just about the enjoyment in seeing a customer enjoy something I had a hand in creating – there is really nothing more gratifying”. Robert has faced many challenges throughout his journey. He believes that Creative services are a business that is open to interpretation and subjected to multiple opinions, therefore by presenting projects that are often subjective in nature, provides the unenviable challenge of engaging most, if not all, at the same time.
The Next Idea Group [TNI] is based in Los Angeles and works across the world, specializing in concept creation, development, and management everything from research, strategy, brand and product development, franchising, design, systems, operations, and communication. TNI has developed restaurant concepts in: USA, Dubai & Abu Dhabi (UAE), Kuwait, Australia, Philippines, Pakistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Taiwan, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Mexico, China, Qatar, Oman, UK, Bangladesh, and India.TNI believes in distinguishing themselves from their competitors by always beginning with the end-user. The Customer Experience, The Employee Training Experience, and the Brand Experience are given the utmost priority when they approach the project. This has also led them to open over 750 restaurants across the US, Middle East, Asia, and Europe, and develop 84 concepts.
The TNI team has consulted with some of the world’s most eminent Chefs, and upscale restaurant groups, in addition to working with clients in entertainment, casual dining, fast-casual dining, hotels, resorts, family entertainment, and travel. In each project, they have been involved in all areas of the business, and have delivered programs and plans that have targeted the elevation of concept positioning, product and menu, operating standards, infrastructure, and overall quality.
Impact of Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic of course represented an expansive impediment for most of us, and has produced extraordinary challenges for many businesses around the world. Robert wasn’t holding back about the challenging impact on The Next Idea Group which forms one of the concentric circles around the Hospitality and Restaurant Industry. Robert states: “The US restaurant industry reacted extremely supportively to the government’s requested /mandated closures. This is because the industry is inherently an industry of servants who believe in the collective effort to serve the community at any cost. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant and foodservice industry has been one of the hardest hit from the shutdown with layoffs and furloughs expected to reach 5-7 million, a little shy of half the industry workforce. Even when the shelter-in-place period concludes, there can be no expectation that there will be a miraculous comeback. “The virus is here to stay, consequently the hospitality industry will struggle and face adversarial conditions in the short term. However this is an industry of innovation and persistence, therefore in time, as it realigns itself to the new markets, it will again thrive. Robert has also written a book ‘Post COVID 19 Reboot’ https://www.postcovid19reboot.com/ to assist business and the industry in the new precautionary measures required to keep employees and customers safe, as well as to adapt to the new consumer mindset formed by the unique events of 202 cauldron0.
Words of Wisdom
When we asked for his advice for entrepreneurs, his words of wisdom were different than most, he replied “I am regularly asked this question and I always struggle to answer given every entrepreneur has their own story and set of values. I think, from my perspective, I would advise to listen to Charles Darwin who said; ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change’“From my own experience I have learned from my mistakes and adapted to new environments and conditions. I think we are always learning, therefore my advice is to always be open-minded, and it really is OK to be wrong!”