The Taste of Success

Rainbow Meats

Today, Rainbow Meats – the face of The Rainbow Group – maintains its commitment to innovation, ongoing investment in technology, respect for staff and customers, and building long-lasting relationships with patrons by offering the best and most consistent meat products possible.

“Rainbow Meats is one of Australia’s most successful meat business outlets,” says Mr Russo. As the company’s Managing Director, Mr Russo started in the family business in 1979 at the age of 16. A fifth generation butcher, Mr Russo learned all aspects of the retail meat business quickly, and learned well.

The single large location created by his late father, which became Rainbow Meats in 1985, has developed into four locations with the addition of three more shops spread out across the Melbourne metropolitan area in Chirnside Park, Chadstone, Camberwell and Caroline Springs and with aspirations to open fifth and sixth locations.

Mr Russo credits his wife Marina and his three children for their support over the years. “My family is a strong part in me going forward,” he says. “With their support, I’ve been able to have the time to grow my business and secure our future. That’s how I see it, as teamwork.”

Over the years, countless customers have benefited from Rainbow Meats’ principles about quality, building relationships, supporting other businesses, and ongoing innovation in all areas. With a staff of 60 to 80 within the Rainbow Meats Group, including casual and part-time workers, stores can be found in food courts within shopping centres at the regional and sub-regional levels.

Realising the importance of prime locations, Mr Russo calls himself “a calculated risk-taker,” someone who amasses as much information as possible before making a decision which takes Rainbow Meats to the next level. Negotiating the best possible outcomes for his company, his suppliers, and his many loyal customers, remains a top priority. The ongoing success of the business is, says Mr Russo, the result of years of hard work, and paying attention.

“Working in retail has really taught me to listen to what the customer wants,” he says. “Listening is critical to get ideas to contribute to the business, and I listen to my staff. They are at the coal face, and the feedback I get from my staff and my customers is fantastic, just valuable ideas.” Mr Russo believes in taking full accountability for his business, the welfare of his staff, and investing in technologies and tools to make shopping easier and more convenient for customers.

Using Technology to Serve Customers Better

Late last year, the company unveiled its latest technological innovation, a Rainbow Meats mobile app, which enables customers to place orders, enquire about their loyalty deals, create shopping lists, find store locations, and download recipes. Through an email database, customers are kept informed about products they’ve ordered for special occasions and deadlines for placing future orders, along with other valuable information, like the importance of proper food safety and storage.

“The technology we have and the development of the technology, we believe, has helped us gain greater efficiencies in our business,” says Mr Russo. In the retail world, it has never been as important to keep customers informed as it is today, and Rainbow Meats stands above others when it comes to being proactive.

“There are a lot of ways we can communicate with the customers now,” explains Mr Russo. Along with the mobile app and emails, the company utilises Quick Response (QR) codes, which are being increasingly used in advertising and in providing valuable details about products. The company’s willingness to embrace technology is combined with a comprehensive website loaded with valuable information for consumers including products, recipes, the history of Rainbow Meats, employment opportunities, and a feedback area. In addition, the company makes available a detailed list of ingredients found in the many flavourful marinades they sell, which helps those with food allergies.

To take advantage of savings and promotions, many Rainbow Meats customers make use of the company’s Loyalty Card. Extremely popular, every time a purchase is made and the Loyalty Card electronically swiped, customers earn points which can be redeemed for monetary value, discounts, and other incentives. For example, if one of the company’s four stores has an excess of pork chops, customers can receive 40 per cent off the price of pork chops that day; when the customer swipes his or her Loyalty Card, the system automatically discounts the product 40 per cent.

As if points and discounts weren’t enough, last year the company ran a Rainbow Loyalty Card Swipe and Win, and every customer swiping a valid Rainbow Meats Loyalty Card was automatically entered into a draw to win a new model five-door Toyota Yaris valued at $18,500. The successful contest was conducted electronically, with no forms for customers to fill out. “It was easy,” says Mr Russo. “The more customers shop, the more chances they had to win, so it was an additional incentive to come to Rainbow Meats.”

For the company, the Loyalty Card also provides it with key information about its customers at the different stores. This enables the business to tailor specials for different demographics. “We’ve got an advantage where we can do anything we want for the customer,” says Mr Russo, such as a custom thickness of meat. “It is part of our customer philosophy of quality, consistency in the meat they get, and the wow factor.”

Strategic Locations

The choice of locations for Rainbow Meats’ four shops was carefully planned, with nothing left to chance, says Mr Russo. The company maintains an Operations Manager who looks at different properties and examines different commercial areas and local demographics. As the business has grown, Mr Russo realises it is not possible for him to cover all areas, so he has assembled a solid team of accountants, Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) specialists, public relations professionals, marketing experts, graphic designers, advertising specialists and others.

A great believer in working with other successful companies, Rainbow Meats also excels at cross-promotion (for example: “The Footy Tipping Competition”) with neighbouring businesses in the same shopping centres, such as Bakers Delight, Australia’s most successful bakery franchise. “As a slip comes out for your receipt, another slip comes out and says, ‘Go to Bakers Delight,’ to receive another promotional offer,” explains Mr Russo. This can be a prize or an experience at Bakers Delight, and in turn the two companies promote one another’s products and services. “We’ve developed all these cross-promotions with other retailers in the centre, and it’s fantastic.”

When it comes to competition, particularly from big box stores like Woolworths or Coles, Mr Russo says they are actually good for his business, because they generate lots of customer traffic, which benefits Rainbow Meats. “We go where these stores are, then we market ourselves,” he says. “These majors draw people to the centres. People go to the supermarket for groceries, then come to Rainbow for meat. “For me, that’s a buzz. I love it, it’s absolutely perfect.”

Community Initiatives

Along with serving as Managing Director of the Rainbow Meats Group, Frank Russo remains committed to maintaining and enhancing all areas of the broader meat industry. Chairman of the Victorian Retail Council and the National Retail Council for the Australian Meat Industry Council, Mr Russo also acts as a ‘Retail Ambassador’ for Meat and Livestock Australia.

A great believer in giving back to the community, Rainbow Meats has been a proud sponsor for decades to many local football clubs, schools (through its Loyalty Card Program), clubs, community events and more. A major sponsor of the Chirnside Football and Cricket clubs along with a number of others, Mr Russo and Rainbow Meats are also regular supporters of the Kidney Foundation, a cause close to his heart. Instead of regarding other butchers as competitors, Mr Russo regularly takes part in food education, and hosts other butchers from all over Australia to enhance the profession. “That’s how we grow and get inspired by ideas that can help benefit others,” he says. “I say we’re not in competition, we’re helping one another as local, independent butchers.”

Stringent Quality Assurance

Along with offering some of the finest cuts of beef available, Rainbow Meats offers over 30 varieties of sausages, and more depending on location. All meats come from trusted, dedicated suppliers who provide ‘Meat Standards Australia’ premium beef, graded to MDA specifications, which means meats are subject to strict rules and regulations to ensure safe and healthy products for the consumer. “We know how important it is to give the customer consistency when you’re buying beef,” Mr Russo says. “Every time a customer buys a steak, they can be assured that the meat is MSA graded, which takes the guess work out of buying beef.”

With Rainbow Meats winning numerous Leader Business and other awards over the years, Mr Russo remains just as enthusiastic about the industry as he was when he began over three decades ago. He enjoys working with his staff and seeing satisfied customers come back time and again to Rainbow Meats.

“Our customers shop with us because we have a reputation based on exceptional customer service and the ability to deliver a safe, consistent product. I have worked in retail all my life, dedicated my career to this industry, and even after 33 years, I remain passionate and committed.”

Realising that many people are time-poor, Rainbow Meats sells other meal solution items such as prepared meatballs, burgers, arancini, and prepared and seasoned vegetables in some stores. With products clearly priced and ticketed, it makes it easy to find out the cost per person for feeding one’s family or throwing a dinner party.

“People love the transparency,” Mr Russo says of the stores, which have open workstations. “As the butchers are working away cutting the meat, customers can see what they are doing; it’s not done behind a wall, but all out in the open. I call that theatre in retailing. It creates ambience, and I think retail is about theatre – and customers absolutely love it.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

January 18, 2019, 3:30 AM AEDT