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Date [ 2013-10-14, 16:35 ]

The island honours those who have made diners happy,


(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) by RamaniRathir =Singapore’s food and beverage industry is growing and has become a big sector of Singapore’s economy. The most recent Economic Survey of Services in 2011 reported a 4.5 per cent increase in the number of F&B establishments, bringing their total number to 6,500. This sector employs over 100,000 people and generates S$7.1 billion in operating receipts for the economy.
 
At the Excellent Service Award 2013, Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Minsitry of National Development, disclosed,”As a diner myself, I would add my observation that our F&B scene has also become more creative in recent years. There are more thematic restaurants now than before. F&B operators are introducing more concepts, and new ones. Some based on foreign cultures and others create their own fusion cuisine designs. Our players realise that differentiation is a better way to create value and compete.”
 
At the same time, more F&B players are embracing technology and training. Now, it is more common to see restaurants relying on wireless tablets integrated with POS for order taking and food preparation. These automation modules reduce human-errors, save manpower and more importantly, empower customers and make them feel that they are in control of their dining.

Since its launch in 1994, the Excellent Service Award(EXSA) has recognised a total of 160,000 individuals for service excellence. This year, 45 food and beverage organisations have nominated their employees for the EXSA. For some awardees, such as Susan Low from McDonald’s Singapore and MuhamadRiduwan bin Boharri from Pizza Hut Singapore, this year would be their third consecutive year to receive the EXSA STAR award.

Low’s strength lies in her desire to make the McDonald’s experiencememorable for every customer.The extra mile she goes included sheltering customers from rain and helping them with their heavy bagsto the bus stop. MuhamadRiduwan on the other hand, stoof out because he paid meticulous attention to detail to ensure that customers’ needs are diligently anticipated and met.
 
“What both Low and MuhamadRiduwan show is that if you follow the standard template for service, you will be a GOOD service staff. But if you do it with a heart, you will become an OUTSTANDING service staff. Excellent service comes from the heart,” was the Minister’s comment.
 
Lee went on to advice that any employer having a pool of motivated service staff is a happy and blessed employer. But the average employer too can do much to bring out the best in their service staff. Employers’ roles can be likened to that of cutting and polishing raw gems.
 
What then can employers do to bring out the best in their service staff?
It can be segmented into three parts:

a)  Individual empowerment
b)  Clearly-Defined Process
c)  Seek help from Industry-Wide Platforms
 
Individual empowerment should have employers take full advantage of all the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ)programmes offered by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) in conjunction with SPRING and the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS).

These courses are highly subsidized and comprise both classroom learning and on the job practices. Employers need to empower their staff with the skills to engage customers, to anticipate their needs, and to do damaged control when things go wrong. They need to be given the skill sets to excel. “You take care of staff, staff will take care of customers,” is the philosophy from Hai Di Lao, a Chinese restaurant chainthat is one of the case studies of  Harvard Business School.
 
Restaurant employers seem not to have clear cut operating manuals. Thus new staff joining an establishment has no clear cut directions to follow. Unlike fixed establishments as the Ritz Carlton, Macdonald’s or Singapore Airlines, who all have operating manuals for service staff who must then familiarise themselves with it.
 
Seeking help from an Industry-Wide Platform, will mean drawing resources from industry-wide programmes and initiatives. This has been indicated by Andrew Tjioe, President of RAS, who mentioned the collaboration between RAS and Unilever Food Solutions under the Partnerships for Capability Transformation (PACT), where RAS will customise a training programme for SMEs under the Unilever’s Chefmanship Academy, allowing SMEs to learn from Unilever’s expertise.

RAS is also working with the Singapore Chinese Chamber Institute of Business, part of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, to offer RAS members specially-priced courses so as to send their staff for training. SPRING has also set aside $75 million to help the F&B industry to raise productivity under the Industry Roadmap Plan.

The Singapore government would like industry players to come together to share resources and work on common challenges. It is believed this will maximise the outcome of the collective efforts in raising productivity for the industry as a whole.

abc@koreanpress.net.

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