Chef’s Secrets – Transforming Jobs for an Ageing Workforce
Words bu Julia Chan

Supporting Mature Workers with Productivity Tools

Specialising in the provision of confectionery products and cooking hardware, Chef’s Secrets offers culinary lessons to enthusiasts who are looking to upskill themselves. Currently located at Bukit Merah Central, this training outlet also doubles up as its retail outlet with delivery to business customers.

As its workforce is ageing, Chef’s Secrets decided to embark on a transformation drive to improve its processes, which were manual and labour-intensive. It identified several processes that mature workers encountered challenges in, such as order taking and delivery.

For example, one of its elderly workers, Mr Kian Kiong, shared that even though order taking might seem to be a simple task, it was a slow and painful process for him.  During order-taking, he had to record the all the details by hand on order chits.

The first copy of the order chit with clear writing would be given to the delivery team, however the writing on the underlying carbon copy, which he retained, tended to be illegible. As a result, he often had a difficult time deciphering the faint words on the carbon copy when customers called in for enquiries at times. 

Due to hygiene reasons, customers are not allowed to seek any refund for food products after delivery. Therefore, the delivery team needed to co-ordinate closely with Kian by updating him on the status via phone call or WhatsApp every time the food order was delivered successfully. 

However, as the delivery team was sometimes too overwhelmed by their busy delivery schedules, they might miss out on updating Kian. Moreover, the delivery team was required to rush the signed delivery order forms back to office in time for Kian to manually key in these completed order forms into a separate excel spreadsheet in order to track the sales record of their customers and prepare invoices for the delivery team. These data would then be used for future sales and marketing purposes.

Without being able to track deliveries, customers tended to call the office and ask Kian when their order would arrive. He would then need time to call the delivery team, and then call the customer back. If new orders were received at the last minute, Kian also had to re-plan the delivery schedules.  At times, this led to situations where mix-up of deliveries occurred.

Leveraging on technology to improve productivity at work

Recognising the urgent need to improve the ordering and delivery processes, Chef’s Secrets invested in an Ordering and Delivery Management System on both Android and iOS, with support and WorkPro Job Redesign initiative funding from NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

Customers are now able to place their orders directly from the Chef’s Secrets’ e-commerce website. Once the orders are approved, the system will automatically generate delivery orders, notes and even invoices. With the new system sending orders to a backend portal, Kian Kiong can better focus on preparing the food items and then assign the delivery using the backend portal.  The system is smart enough to pre-define and assign the available drivers to various deliveries base on the locations.

With the delivery app, tasks assigned will be sent to the mobile apps of the delivery team members. They can now use the application to view all the deliveries’ details clearly. The built-in routing feature of the app will also suggest the best route for them to reach their destination from their current location, hence they need not plan their own route anymore, shaving off some time in the process. Customers can view the live location of their order, as well as the estimated time of arrival of their delivery, by accessing a link generated for them.

To complete the ordering process, as customers can sign on the delivery app after receiving their orders, the delivery team only needs to update the completion of order delivery via their app and Kian is able to see the updates on his end. This productivity improvement has enabled the delivery team to complete more deliveries per day.

Happy workers, happy customers

The new ordering and delivery management system has helped Chef’s Secrets create easier, safer, and smarter jobs for their local workers aged 50 years and above. Besides that, productivity has also greatly improved with fewer errors and more time saved, resulting in better sales and higher customer satisfaction in the long run.

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