How does one rise above fierce business competition everywhere? You get creative with your products and services to stand out and become memorable to your customers.
In Bekasi, a city in West Java, Indonesia, a man named Kevin has garnered much attention with his formal attire of suit and tie. Kevin is not heading to a formal occasion or the office. Instead, he is all dressed up to sell pressure-cooked milkfish (ikan bandeng) around the streets of Bekasi in his motorcycle.
Local press DetikFood met with Kevin to cover his story. It appears Kevin has been selling the milkfish dish for 9 years now.
When he started in 2012, he carried the heavy load himself as he went around looking for good selling spots with customers. It was only in 2016 that Kevin started to use his motorbike to get to these identified areas.
"If you already have regular customers, it's easier to ride to the locations," Kevin said.
He leaves the house at 5.30 am daily, and if the sale of the day is good, he gets to go home earlier.
Just 2 months ago, he decided to change his look into something less conventional for a street vendor. Suited up in complete formal dress code, paired with leather shoes, neatly combed hair, and a sunglass.
"We should look neat and clean to sell food to our customers. I used to wear a suit too but just without a tie. I thought, why not complete it with a tie and black shoes too," said Kevin.
His change of outfit has attracted more customers and even praises by other vendors and passers-by.
"At first, many would ask where I am headed to dressing up like that. I just told them that I was off to sell milkfish as usual, and they would say 'steady!' in response."
Most of Kevin's regular customers, who are mothers, are now a fan of his too
"Yes, so many fans. People would compliment and ask for photos with me. After it went viral, kids will shout out "abang (brother) viral" when they see me. I'm pleased." shared Kevin.
So what is this pressure-cooked fish that Kevin is selling in his suit precisely?
Pressure-cooked milkfish is a typical Indonesian cuisine from Semarang, Central Java. Seasoned with garlic, turmeric, and salt, the milkfish is placed on a banana leaf and cooked under high-pressure steam in a sealed wok. The vapourised water from inside the heated wok cooks the milkfish until both the fish texture and bones are softened.
Kevin prepares the milkfish himself to ensure its quality for his customers' satisfaction. He uses only natural spices such as tamarind for the yellow glow. Each fish is sold starting from 8000IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) onwards.
Usually, he returns with a net profit of 200000 IDR, and now his sales have reached up to 350000 IDR a day after his story has gone viral. He also receives orders in large quantities.
Now, Kevin can carry three large pots with about 100 preserved fish to sell with his modified motorcycle. Aside from milkfish, other local saltwater fishes he sells include ikan tongkol (type of mackerel tuna) and ikan cakalang (skipjack tuna). On top of pressure-cooked fish, he also sells fruits and snacks.
What to eat when in Bekasi? Visit Kevin's mobile stall and show your support! You can find him selling at Jati Kramat, Pondok Gede, Pekayon, Kodau, and Kemang Pratama in Bekasi, Indonesia.
Thumbs up for the initiative Kevin! We know for sure that it is #HIMYM Barney Stinson approved!