Sample Paper on Executing Strategy

Executing Strategy


This is a case analysis of Benihana of Tokyo case (9-673-057). The study is to review Aoki’s strategy for Benihana when he first started out.   Using the 7-S model, the study analyzes Aoki’s efforts in execution of the strategy. From Aoki’s perception, several options can be expanded into new areas of activity. Among the options is to start small as a Japanese fast foods restaurants. Using the 7-S model, there are changes that need to be implemented for the execution of the new strategy.


By 1972, Aoki was among the few happy and young restaurateurs (Sasser & Kurl 1). Starting his business in 1964 with a 40-seat place, he has seen the restaurant grow to a chain of 15 with more than $12 million annual profits. He had acquired locations which were owned by companies, practiced a joint venture and others were franchised. Benihana had changed a lot by 1972. Customers could get the view of the preparation of their foods in a Japanese style. These locations are wide spread. There are some in New York, California, Chicago, Las Vegas, Boston, Beverly Hills, and Pennsylvania. The first Benihana was opened in Tokyo, Japan by Aoki’s father in 1935. The name was borrowed from the world flower, which used to grow at the front door of the restaurant. Aoki’s father was resourceful and practical (Sasser & Kurl 4). He came up with the Hibachi table when he was facing financial challenges.

7-S model

The 7-S model is an approach used in the organizational analysis (Mind Tool 3). The model is used in the improvement of the performance of the company and determination of the best implementation of the proposed strategy. This model comprises of strategy, structure, systems, style, shared values, skills, and staff. In Benihana, structure, strategy, and systems have mainly been influenced by the management. As majority of the staff was of Japanese origin, the culture and shared values was borrowed from Japan. Through the well-laid strategy, Aoki managed to devise a strategy to maintain the competitive advantage over the competitors. He had a laid out structure of how the organization run. As the staff was trained on the Benihana system, they managed to smoothly carry out the daily activities to ensure that the job was done. There were the shared values. Aoki maintained that his desire was to make people happy. This is the reason behind preparing orders at the proximity of the customers.

Aoki’s Strategy

When Aoki first stepped in New York, he saw an opportunity to venture in America rather than his home country-Japan. He took another step of enrolling into college to get the professional acquaintance in restaurant management. This was an opportunity outside his wrestling career. He carried out market analysis and realized that restaurant management was more profitable than most of the careers. He took on the simple menial jobs like washing plates and acting as a tour guide. These jobs required no professional skills but still highly paid. He also carried out a systematic analysis of the American restaurant market. From the analysis, he discovered that Americans preferred to eat in exotic places but were very judgmental of the exotic foods. He also realized that customers preferred watching, as their meals were prepared. He took his total savings, borrowed from bank, and opened his first venture to try out his research.

From his market analysis, Aoki realized that labor was available and costly. By doing away with the traditional table, he managed to manage the cost of labor to at most 12% of the profits. He also realized that he could reduce the cost of foods and wastage by providing three entrees in the menu. There was chicken, shrimp and steak. Hence, the costs of foods have reduced to around 35% in relation to the cost of meat. He also realized that it is necessary to be acquitted in historical authenticity. His walls, decorative lights, beams. Ceilings and artifacts originated in Japan. Aoki reduced the cost of building by gathering materials from old buildings in Japan. He then disassembles them, ship and re-assembles in America (Mind Tool 6).

Aoki is resourceful and practical. This is depicted in his father too. This is seen by his creativity in cutting the costs of the production by incorporating the hibachi table. This action further helped the business to compete with the rest of the businesses. Aoki borrowed this action and managed to stay on top of the competitive market. Aoki managed to do away with the need for a conventional table. This further made him to offer attentive services to the customers. He managed to increase the dining space on the floor. Hence, there was reduced back area for preparation, dressing rooms, officers and storage area. This is approximately 10% less of the required area.

When there was a demand overflow, he decided to expand the business to cater for the rest of the customers. Aoki later on perceived that franchising was costly than individual management of the business. However, when the output overweighed the input, he decided to let go. Factors such as cultural differences, lack of restaurant skills, economic fluctuation, and management differences made it difficult for Aoki to venture into franchising. His main strategy in looking for sites was traffic. Therefore, he chose venues, which had higher traffic at lunch and at dinner. Aoki went for the business districts, which would have access to the residential. He however did not highly consider shopping centers. Training of the chefs was highly essential in the success of Benihana. Aoki preferred the young, single, and national Japanese who were skilled in the field. He further allowed them to undergo internship before he absorbed them permanently. In addition to the skills, he trained them on the English language, Benihana cooking styles, and American mannerisms. Thereafter the chefs were brought to the business after signing the trade treaty agreement. All through in business, he went on training the chefs. He also brought competition among the chefs. The action was to perfect their art in becoming the chief chef. There was the post of the travelling chef was had the role of supervising the units and opening of new ventures.

Options in expansion

There was need for the business to expand. Franchising was disadvantageous to Aoki. This is due to the desire for investment opportunities of the businesspersons without basic knowledge in restaurant. Entrusting Japanese in the hands of the foreigners has also been a challenge. There is need of looking for more Japanese carpenters to work on the units. The step is to increase the number of units annually. Another approach is to open hotels as a means of covering the untouched market potential. This should be analyzed in relation to the hotel management.


From the Benihana analysis, it is clear that people can still rise through existing ideas and opportunities. Aoki managed to venture into the restaurant business by coming up with the desire of making people happy. He has also managed to satisfy his customers by allowing them see how their ordered meals are prepared. Through strategic approaches and organization, Aoki has risen above his competitors.


Works Cited

Sasser, W. Earl & Kurl John. (1972). Benihana of Tokyo: for the Exclusive use of Abonamah, 2015. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Mind Tool. The McKinsey 7-S Framework: Ensuring That All Parts of Your Organization Work in Harmony. 2015.