The Service Industry


Basic requirement to work in the service industry (according to the Service Book of Hanie):

You must enjoy interacting with people. No point working in the service industry if most of the time you prefer to interact with your mobile phones, or feeling defiant each time someone comes to your counter to ask for something. I can understand that sometimes you are feeling under the weather, but then, try your best to put on your best face for the day. Otherwise, take a leave, go home and sleep. Or go to the mall for some shopping therapy. Trust me, it works even with simple purchase of a pen.

For many years I have been involved in the manpower industry especially in the outsourcing of manpower in the hospitality and service industry. The first question that I would ask are these:

Do you like interaction with people?

 

Followed by a few other questions such as:

  • How do you feel about working with a lot of people around you?
  • How do you feel about working on holidays, weekends and evenings?
  • What does your spouse/partner feel about you working on holidays, weekends and evenings?
  • If you have any children, who looks after them if you had to work on holidays, weekends and evenings?
  • If you have any pets, who would look after them if you have to work long hours?
  • What do you enjoy most in this industry?
  • Is there anything that you don’t enjoy being in this industry?

As you can see, I like my crew to be inclusive and to think beyond their daily work. I do not enjoy seeing someone being sulky when the truth is that she is worried about her daughter’s rising temperature due to fever. And the babysitter is texting her constantly asking whether she could pick her child up as babysitter needs to go back to her kampung the same evening.

The first job I landed myself was as a Telex Operator/Receptionist. I was 18 then. I was eager to start working at a grand salary of RM280.00/month although there were 3 exchange student programs and a study sponsorship to Japan waiting for me. My mom wanted to kill me for this but, that’s another story to tell.

I spent the first Hari Raya Aidilfitri of that year managing the switch boards and telex machine. I cried as it was my very first Aidil Fitri away from the family. The shift started at 7.00 am and I was already feeling miserable on the night before. Or how about working on a graveyard shift? They don’t call it graveyard shift for nothing…Or how about split shift?

Then, there was the job at the travel agency. I’d like to think that it takes a lot of guts and with the right attitude working in a travel agency. You deal with all kinds of people, with all kinds of attitude. I used to go home with some sick feeling deep in my stomach worrying that I might have missed some poor traveler’s pick up at the airport. Or worse still, his pick up from the hotel to the airport.

I started driving when I was 16. It was a manual Proton Saga, Chini green, that’s what they call it. I have never driven any other car until I joined this particular travel and car rental company. The interview with the company supervisor went quite painlessly until he told me to drive this……gigantic sized Volkswagen van.

Errrrk!

Throughout the years, I have traveled a bit, stayed at a few hotels, eaten at some good places and meet people. I am fortunate enough as George shares similar perspective on how service should be rendered in all these establishments.

 

Makan places

SouledOut still holds a sweet place in my heart as I think the crew are just awesome and food is great. Service at Kelantan Delights is great too. The food is yummylicious. Head to their place for good Kelantan food and you wont be disappointed. Porto Romano wont disappoint me in terms of service and great down-to-earth comfort food. Sri Nirwana, the banana leaf rice restaurant in Bangsar renders straight to the point, no-nonsense service. Food is great though. I am not discounting other small businesses who have perfected the meaning of service. I frequent this mobile van run by a certain daughter of a woman named Kak Nab every so often. She sells the world’s best laksam Kelantan and nasi kerabu. I kid you not. Her mobile van is parked by the roadside in Taman Tun Dr Ismail from 7 am to about 10 am, every day. I love buying from her not only because of her delicious food but she knows me by name, and knows what I like.

 

Hotels

YTL properties including Vistana, a few other boutique resorts such as Amanrimba, Suria Hotel properties are all great with their services.

 

The flipside

From my observation:

  • Pay is low. Some goes as low as RM3.00/hour with working hours can go as long as 12 straight hours.
  • A lot of places do not provide career advancement or training for self development. Sometimes employers do not even provide proper training.
  • No career support such as insurance or EPF.

This is the Catch 22 situation to some employers as training is cost. I have experienced this situation with my Chini Restaurant. The crew had a 3 month pre opening experience, salary scale higher than the average market standard coupled with service points, meals and uniform. And Sundays are off.

Still, they left for a mere RM10 difference at another place simply because we at Chini Restaurant do things a bit differently than other local restaurants that they are used to work. For instance, they asked me why should they clean the washroom when it “doesn’t look very dirty”. Or why I insist on separating the chopping boards between dry and wet goods. Or how come I do roll calls in the morning complete with checking of nail fingers. (Yes I carry nail clippers during roll calls…)

My rant on service continues in the next blog……

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