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Serving up innovations in service

Dian Xiao Er is speeding up its service without compromising on quality.

At Dian Xiao Er, past sales data is used to estimate demand for its herbal roast duck dish accurately, setting a guideline for outlets on the number of ducks to roast.

AS a "quick casual dining" Chinese restaurant chain, Dian Xiao Er's success relies on its ability to deliver its dishes quickly after a customer places an order. It realised that the key to achieving this was to ensure a highly efficient work process that prized productivity.

Known for its signature herbal roast duck dish, Dian Xiao Er currently has 12 outlets in shopping malls across Singapore, and plans to increase this to 15 over the next few years.

"Positioning ourselves as a quick casual dining Chinese restaurant, productivity has been key to our operations and process flow," says a company spokesman.

To that end, the chain streamlined its back-of-house processes to enable a quick turnaround for dishes to be served. Roles within the team are also clearly defined, with team members trained to multi-task during busier periods. From food ordering and preparation to serving, each outlet handles orders systematically to ensure that little time is wasted and customers are served promptly.

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Staff training is key to ensuring that these measures are implemented properly. "Experienced heads of departments have to be strict in enforcing training guidelines and ensuring that such standards are maintained. Employees are also promoted from within in order to ensure sufficient experience is gained from on-the-ground training, adhering to our productivity measures," says the spokesman.

The training also helps to instil a strong service culture among its employees, with team members trained to provide personalised service where possible. For instance, service staffers aim to remember the preferred seating of regular customers.

"Dian Xiao Er strives to serve customers a taste of home, with a cosy and friendly environment as key. Service staff have hence been trained in line with our positioning to achieve the right ambience for customers when dining with us."

To ensure the quality of its signature product, the preparation of the herbal roast duck dish is handled by a dedicated department. Past sales data is used to estimate demand for the dish accurately, setting a guideline for outlets on the number of ducks to roast each time. The team follows a guiding principle of "low on quantity, high on frequency" to ensure that customers receive a plate of freshly roasted duck every time.

These measures have resulted in numerous benefits for the company. Customers experience faster and better service, which helps to draw a large percentage of regular diners. Turnaround time for tables is also reduced, cutting the waiting time for customers and, hence, increasing revenue.

Dian Xiao Er is currently exploring the use of digital ordering and a table holding function so that customers can place their orders while they are queuing, and have the orders automatically delivered to the kitchen once they are seated.

Says the spokesman: "This reduces reliance on our staff to take customers' orders while queuing, and allows for orders to be placed immediately when seated, eliminating any further waiting time for our staff to input the orders."