Kluang Station, Waterfront, Desa Parkcity, Kepong

Most of these KopiTiam are priced in between the regular traditional Coffee Shop and the foreign coffee franchise. The more popular ones are Uncle Lim’s, Kemaman, Old Town and Kluang. Up to 5 years ago I heard from food operators that all these joints are making good money.

I am surprise as the service and food in these KopiTiam are so far inconsistent and staff are not service oriented. The don’t have that DNA implanted into them. This will be evident when there is enough training. Perhaps there are still a lot of space for these joints and the demand still outstrip supply. But to survive in the long-term and later market consolidation these franchises need to seriously look into providing seamless service and excellent food every time and everyday.

Each business has a typical Business Format, whether it is food, stationery etc. Business Format will determine how the business is run and whether it will be successful. In the food industry, McDonald has the best. It has it own University. I have tasted McDonald’s joint in many countries in the West and the East. Their food comes with the same quality, color, taste etc. I cannot say that for KFC. I have very oily ones in Boston and London. The worst tasting was in Thailand.

Back to Business Format. About 2-3 years ago I step into Kemaman in IOI Mall, Puchong. It was the first and the last. The laksa that I ate was atrocious and the coffee was bad. The staff were ill at ease and poorly trained. I have eaten in Kluang at 1 Utama and Desa Parkcity and find the people there ok except that the 1 Utama joint seems not too responsive when you call for the bill. They wanted the customers to go to the cashier and pay there.

I have eaten quite a few times in Old Town in Tmn Melati, Gombak and Bercham, Ipoh. My son is a sucker for their ‘Kai See Hor Fun’ (Chicken Noodles Soup). I must say that the soup base was excellent and exactly like those in Ipoh famous stalls.

One particularly busy evening at Tmn Melati, I was paying at the till and the manager was holding the fort, he asked us on how had the food tasted. He was expecting a typical Malaysian answer. “Ok, good….”

Listen to our little head-to-head, tete-a-tete!

My first comment sent him on the defensive. “There were too little chicken strips. The Kai See Hor Fun got a few strands only.

His reply, “Ok the next time come and see me and I will make sure you will get a bigger portion.” This is bad customer service. Satisfied the customer complaint immediately. Do something to make it up.

Then I deliberately told him that the curry laksa lacked the ‘heong fah choy’ (a kind of mint leaves). My wife got 2 leaves in her bowl. One will get a handful in Ipoh. The manager’s reply, “Oh, some cust
omers don’t like it.

My wife decided enough is enough and tug at my elbow.

Where to go from here to great customer service?

Training and attitudinal change are so crucial for the success of the business. It is even more crucial to train managers to be proactive and also to be a great leader. This will smoothen the seamless delivery of great service and also excellent food.

How can this be done? Without being simplistic I will suggest two simple steps.

The first will be the hardware part but the simplest to achieve if one strive to succeed. The business can be studied in detail and broken down into as many steps as possibly can. This will facilitate training and also enable accountability. Any breakdown along the delivery process can be pinpointed and responsibility assigned. These small but clearly defined steps should be taught carefully to new recruits. Service and food preparation will then be integrated into a seamless delivery pattern.

The second will be the software which will be the hardest to instill. How to change one’s disposition from work first (which is technically correct) to customer first (which is business correct). Facilitating attitudinal change will provide the DNA to provide each individual customers with a pleasurable dining experience during each visit from the time they step in to the time they step out.

Toast was crispy - my wife like it
Coffee was good
Big breakfast but not big in taste - My son can fix thisA little snack - so so taste


an excellent personal observation on the characteristics of some modern cafes of the times.

we believe the single most important overriding factor is the individual staff performance of an outlet , which will tip the scales in or out of flavor to a pleasant or horrid dining experience.

followed by food quality ( which is a combination of several indicators ).

Nyonya Colors in 1 Utama is doing great , maybe you might want to try and give us your comments ?

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