Training and Management Can Set Businesses Apart: Lessons from Roadside Restaurants

During his frequent business trips across India, Ashok had the opportunity to explore various roadside restaurants. On a recent journey from Bengaluru to Chennai, he encountered a compelling illustration of how training and effective management can dramatically influence the success of such establishments.

Contrasting Experiences: “Traveler’s Delight” and “Highway Cuisine”

Ashok’s journey commenced with a breakfast stop at Traveler’s Delight, nestled along the Bengaluru-Chennai Highway. Upon entering the restaurant, he was immediately struck by the lively atmosphere. Despite the bustling activity, it operated seamlessly, resembling a well-orchestrated symphony. Tables were brimming with diners, yet an air of contentment prevailed. The wait staff, though not excessively numerous, moved gracefully, adeptly handling orders, serving dishes, and attentively catering to patrons’ needs with remarkable efficiency.

Later, on the return journey to Bengaluru, he halted for lunch at Highway Cuisine, another roadside restaurant along the highway. It presented a stark contrast to the morning’s experience. Despite being equally crowded, if not more so, chaos reigned supreme. The restaurant was in disarray. Despite an abundance of employees, the operation appeared far from organized. Tables remained cluttered, orders were significantly delayed, and customers displayed visible signs of impatience. The staff seemed overwhelmed, constantly colliding with each other, and communication was sorely lacking. It was a stark departure from the seamless flow Ashok had witnessed earlier that day.

Amplifying Lessons

Many of us have likely encountered such experiences in our lives, often dismissing them as commonplace and moving on. However, looking through the lens of management principles, we can gain valuable insights into the situation.

How TQM and Lean Management Set Traveler’s Delight Apart

Upon closer examination, it became apparent that Traveler’s Delight’s owner possessed a long-term vision for the restaurant’s growth. This vision prompted him to allocate a budget for staff training. The team at Traveler’s Delight demonstrated cohesive teamwork, each member understanding their roles and responsibilities, resulting in the smooth functioning of the restaurant. The owner also made a deliberate choice to hire managers with degrees in hotel management from the outset, despite the initial impact on profits in order to ensure professional management.

Customers were requested to fill in a short survey after paying their bills to get feedback. Daily debriefings were conducted, allowing employees to reflect on the day, learn valuable lessons, and identify areas for improvement. An incentive scheme rewarded top-performing employees with salary hikes and additional pay. The owner even encouraged staff to pursue part-time education programs during the day and on weekends. This approach fostered employee satisfaction and readiness, aligning seamlessly with the long-term vision of the restaurant.

Not long ago, Traveler’s Delight had issues similar to Highway Cuisine. But its owner learned from his friend about Total Quality Management and Lean Management, two complementary management philosophies that he applied to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of his restaurant business. 

Total Quality Management (TQM)

TQM is a holistic approach to management that focuses on the continuous improvement of all processes and systems within an organization. It is based on the belief that all employees, from top to bottom, are responsible for ensuring that the customer receives the highest quality product or service possible.

Lean Management

Lean Management is a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste in all aspects of a business. It is based on the principles of continuous improvement, just-in-time production, and respect for people.

He understood from his friend some specific ways that restaurants could apply TQM and Lean Management together to improve their operations:

  • Identify and eliminate waste. Lean Management principles can be used to identify and eliminate waste in all aspects of the restaurant’s operations, from food preparation to customer service. For example, the restaurant could use waste mapping to identify areas where food is being wasted, and then implement changes to reduce or eliminate that waste.
  • Improve processes. TQM can be used to improve the restaurant’s processes, such as order taking, food preparation, and dishwashing. For example, the restaurant could use process mapping to identify and improve the steps involved in taking an order.
  • Empower employees. TQM and Lean Management both emphasize the importance of empowering employees to identify and solve problems. The restaurant could do this by creating cross-functional teams that are responsible for improving specific processes or areas of the business.
  • Collect and analyze customer feedback. TQM and Lean Management both emphasize the importance of collecting and analyzing customer feedback to identify areas for improvement. The restaurant could do this by conducting customer surveys or holding focus groups.

Downfall of Highway Cuisine

In contrast, Highway Cuisine neither had a structured employee training program nor a customer focus. The employees appeared disorganized and overwhelmed, resulting in a chaotic work environment. The absence of training hindered their ability to meet customer expectations, adversely affecting the restaurant’s profitability. The owner showed little interest in further expansion, focusing solely on capitalizing on the current situation. Within a few months, customers ceased to patronize the restaurant, and it ultimately succumbed to competition. The root of its downfall lay in ineffective management. An oversupply of employees without clear direction and training engendered customer dissatisfaction and operational inefficiency, with serious financial implications.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, this real-life scenario underscores the profound impact of training and management on the success of any business, not just restaurants. It serves as a compelling reminder that these principles transcend textbook theory, playing a pivotal role in shaping the fate of businesses. Whether a business thrives or falters can often be traced back to its approach to training and management, ultimately determining its place in a competitive market.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top