I’VE loved halo-halo at Chowking ever since Digman went out of circulation at the “food court” of many shopping malls. When my spouse and I were newly wed, we were so stingy with our hard-earned salary that we’d settle for Digman before or after watching a movie in Quad theaters. Then maybe after a span of 10 years, our weekly consumption increased from two orders to five with our three kids in tow, sometimes seven if we’re with my parents.
Back to the future—for the past three Saturdays in a row, Chowking disappointed us a bit when we gave our order for our usual one big serving of halo-halo (for twin-sharing) minus the grown-up kids, who could no longer be persuaded to tag along with us. I noticed that every time we asked for one halo-halo at Chowking, my wife, who would always be securely holding on to our respective senior citizens’ ID, would be routinely told by the service crew that they had run out of halo-halo—that has been the case for three straight summer-hot Saturday nights now.
Then you ask: At what time of the day would you go to Chowking to encounter the same problem over and over again, at least for the past three weeks? Well, the routine is around 8:30 p.m. after attending the 7 p.m. anticipated mass on Saturdays in our locality in Parañaque.
If you’re wondering what the connection is between Chowking’s halo-halo and religiosity, then the answer can be within the vicinity of our finicky randomness to an unexplainable pattern from nowhere. So why is it that Chowking appears to be consistently missing out on the opportunity to meet customers’ demand for halo-halo, which I suspect to grow to about 40 orders from 8:30 up to its closing time at 10 p.m?
To tell you what I’ve discovered, every time we visited Chowking, it would almost always be teeming with customers, that at times, while Bonnie was queued up for our order, I’ve had to position myself at a vacant table or stand very close to a table where diners appear to be at the last course of their meals so they could read my body language—finish up or be hounded by dagger looks.
So why has Chowking remained consistent (at least for the past three Saturday nights) in declining more orders for halo-halo at a particular time? I’ve two complementing hypotheses:
One, Chowking doesn’t monitor the number of missed-out opportunities that include unserved customer orders that may not be limited to halo-halo. Try it. Make your order for the dessert between the 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. time slot in your favorite branch and find out how the cashier replies. The moment she tells you the branch is out of halo-halo, probe if she plans to report the matter to management and the number of missed-out opportunities for that day.
The nearest buzzword that I can talk about is the hiyari-hatto or close-call reporting by employees. In many Japanese companies, employees are required to do a formal reporting of any near-miss accident or any similar situation that they witness (or be involved in) inside the factory. The practice stemmed from Heinrich’s Law, which prescribes a theory that for every accident that causes a major injury, there are 29 accidents that cause minor injuries, and 300 accidents that cause no injuries.
Using the same principle of reporting, why is Chowking missing out on the opportunity of requiring its employees to count the number of missed-out halo-halo orders? Obviously, it is no big deal to simply write these down in a piece of paper.
Two, Chowking’s customer base is generally less affluent than the other customers at other fast-food outlets. Besides, our favorite location is surrounded by other restaurants that are not exactly suited to my taste and budget. Also, poor people like us are less willing to question everything, much more to demand that Chowking do something about our cravings for their halo-halo.
There is no question in my mind that beggars can’t be choosers. It’s us who care less about poor service, much more to teach them how to handle missed-out opportunities, like cashing in on those potential 40 halo-halo orders.
Despite the fact that I’m one of the poor people you can imagine from wherever, I’m rich with management ideas that are of no use to me but only to some organizations that are caring to listen to my advice and still do the opposite.
Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management. Send feedback to email@example.com or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts.