What makes a customer like a food joint? What makes him return to it? What is the single most important factor for a customer when he/she is dining alone or with family? What are the little things that make a customer happy? How important is food hygiene and how do you maintain it? The answers to these questions might come naturally to many but for a number of small-scale restaurant owners and employees across the country, it may be difficult to spot definitive trends.

Food and Beverage Operation (FBO) systems are small, with little or no idea of how to build capabilities of employees. While these FBO employees are provided training, there is no set direction to the education. This largely unorganised food sector is still struggling to keep up with the customer expectations and fast-moving technology.

According to the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) projections, the unorganised segment within the food services industry is expected to become a $45 billion market by 2021. This segment is expected to provide direct employment to 50% of the projected workforce of 8.7 million people by 2021.

Coca-Cola recognises the potential in this sector and thus provides an opportunity and platform for members of this sector to make the most of their business and resultantly contribute in a better way to the country’s economic growth.

Franchise Capability services, the training arm of Coca-Cola India is providing world-class programmes to train and empower small-town professionals. It has now launched a module on quality and food services. The module, named ‘Parivartan E&D,’ has been created for owners and employers at dhabas and other small food service outlets and street food vendors, mostly in the unorganised sector.

Coca-Cola’s training module for FBOs is based on two key insights: the lack of hygiene and the importance of good customer service. These are the most important parameters while choosingan eating-out option for customers. Franchise Capability Services team expects to train or up-skill 400,000 people, helping the government’s Skill India programme, which aims at capacity building for employ ability.

Certified trainers conduct three hour long training through presentations, live-examples as well as thorough videos, in regional languages. They focus on:

Food quality and hygiene: In most small dhabas and small restaurants, hygienic food preparation conditions, including dishwashing, drainage and dustbins are not given too much importance. This programme teaches maintaining a clean and hygienic environment for consumers to enjoy their meal.

Clean atmosphere: A lot of the small food service outlet owners do not understand the importance of things like neat signage, clean and separate toilets and adequate lighting to a consumer during decision making. At the training programme, they are informed on how to create a welcoming and clean environment to attract consumers.

Customer interaction: FBO employees and owners mostly know and understand the importance of food and ambience, but not that of customer service relationship management. Under this programme, they are taught to take care of customers with friendly service, special offers and feedback requests so they can become repeat customers. 

Customisation of food: Customers love customisation and it is important for the outlet to cater to their specific needs, be it in terms of food preparation or ambience.

Customer satisfaction: This is possibly the single most important criteria for an FBO owner/employee in building and developing loyalty. The module teaches them to pay attention to what the customer wants and to do something extra for them. This could include a mobile charging facility, an eating room for drivers, proper menu boards, a range of food beverages and clean drinking water facilities amongst others.

Coca-Cola has been training people in the unorganised food sector to empower them with the necessary skills and to help them stay relevant in the fast-changing modern times. It aims to train 400,000 people in the areas of grocery and convenience store retailing as well as food services.