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Old June 24th, 2006, 11:12 PM
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Thumbs up Mumbai's dabbawalas

Mumbai's dabbawalas
City's famed entrepreneurs give power-point presentation at International School of Business in Hyderabad on their clockwork efficiency, low-cost operations and the 115-year-old venture

Hyderabad: On Saturday morning, the students of Indian School of Business in Hyderabad learnt a trick or two on efficiency and time management from Mumbai's Dabbawalas.

The Mumbai Dabbawala Association was invited by the prestigious B-school to interact with its students and the representatives of the tiffin carrier venture left them both impressed and inspired with their modest power point presentation in which they talked about how they manage delivering 2 lakh lunch boxes every day.

Given that the dabbawalas are no longer new to swank B-school campuses ("there is no city left in the country where we haven't been invited to deliver a lecture"), they spoke of their business of delivering lunch boxes from Virar to Churchgate with remarkable ease. In fact, the entire session was sprinkled liberally with humourous anecdotes and even serious business advice to students on keeping costs low and trying to deliver the maximum using the existing infrastructure.

"We use cycles (zero investment and low maintenance) and local trains," explained Gangaram Talekar, association's secretary, adding that the dabbawalas have never been late.

Taking a dig at himself and his semi-literate dabbawala members, Talekar said that "of the 5,000 members, 3,500 are 'thumbs up'" adding light-heartedly that their understanding of the English language was limited to the addresses they had to deliver dabbas to.

"I don't understand terms like logistics, supply chain or time accuracy...I just know my work is to deliver lunch boxes on time," Talekar said amid laughter.

He said that the honours bestowed on the 115-year old venture, case studies on them being included in management institutes and dabbas being used as an advertising tool for products, TV programmes and even social messages (on HIV/AIDS), are sort of things "we never asked for but come to us".

"We didn't even know the six sigma certification given to us. When we were told about it, we wondered what metal sigma was, gold or silver," laughed Talekar.

The Association's president Raghunath Medge said that for them customer was king. "When we got a call from London that Prince Charles would like to meet us during his visit in Mumbai, we said he could meet us at Churchgate station at 11.10 am as we could not disrupt our regular operations," he said amid applause from the management students.

At the end of the session, students posed with the Gandhi caps willingly provided by the dabbawalas and said they were struck by their zero-error performance. "They don't use any technology and still they don't make mistakes," said Johnson Quadris, a management student.

Now that there is a website for information on dabbawalas, , it seems that the tiffin carriers are becoming tech savvy. They have even launched an SMS service to expand its customer base. LINK
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Old May 27th, 2009, 11:03 AM
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Thumbs up Re: Mumbai's dabbawalas

Here are some more updates on Mumbai Dabbawallahs!

Mumbai's dabbawallahs 'deliver' their success secrets
27 May 2009, 1358 hrs IST, PTI

MUMBAI: It is not only former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav who caught the attention of Business schools, now 'dabbawallahs' in Mumbai, known for their food-supply network across the metropolis, are being asked to impart lessons on management and business skills to the corporate world.

One such presentation by dabbawallahs on time management, customer satisfaction, loyalty, error-free methods and other skills was given to top industry professionals here on Tuesday.

Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier's president Raghunath Medge, who delivered the presentation, said, "The method we adopt is simple and easy. For us, customer satisfaction matters a lot and we are here to deliver services to them."

"The dabbawallahs deliver tiffins at their destinations travelling by trains, bicycles or carts and do not seek help of modern gadgets in their business," Medge said.

Pawan Agrawal, who has researched on dabbawallahs, told PTI that recession has affected all businessmen but dabbawallahs. The slowdown has discouraged people to eat in hotels and most prefer to have home food, he said.

The dabbawallahs do not go in for high-tech equipment, but adopt easy and simple modes to perform their job, he said.

Agrawal has also penned a book titled 'Dabbawallas of Mumbai -- Masters of Supply Chain Management', released at a function organised by Bombay Chambers of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) here on Tuesday.

More reading from our own archives --


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