Tim Ho Wan: Empowering Workers In F&B

Tim Ho Wan

When I first visited Tim Ho Wan when it opened in Singapore, I remember how I used a pen to note down my order on a piece of paper and pass it to the staff. Occasionally there would be incomplete or wrong orders, and I could see how busy the staff were as they tried hard to keep up with the manual process.

Things are different now.

Walking into Tim Ho Wan at Marina Bay Sands, we were greeted by Ms Eileen Liew, a Senior Waitress, who promptly tapped a tablet and got us our QR code printout specific to our table.

Eileen tapping the POS to print the QR code

After showing us to our seat, all we had to do was scan the QR code and order directly from Tim Ho Wan’s e-menu, which would directly send the orders to the kitchen. No touching of pencils and papers to reduce the spread of germs!

No need to touch pencils anymore; just use a QR code.
Just scan, order and submit!

The food came as per our order, and we could just rescan the QR code to add any extra dishes along the way.

Some of the yummylicious food we ate that day in another room with more space. Tim Ho Wan also offers seasonal menus with limited edition dishes.

Billing was a breeze. We only had to take our QR code printout to the cashier (Eileen is also trained in cashiering duties) who would simply scan it for the total bill.

Simply present the QR code during payment

It was so much smoother compared to the past, where we worried that our paper orders didn’t get to the kitchen, and found it a bit inconvenient having to repeatedly call the staff to add orders.

I was curious as to how Eileen’s job was impacted by this new POS system and had a quick chat with her. In her eight years of working with Tim Ho Wan, she had been through both the old and new systems.

She shared:

“In the past, we depended a lot on paper menu and order list. We had to take the order list from customers, repeat the customers’ order, rush to the POS (point-of-sales) to input the order, and print and return the order list to the customer.

We had to be on the alert at all times and on constant lookout to see if the customer is ready to order. Sometimes we had other duties to attend to, but we couldn’t do these because we might not be able to take the orders for the customers. Finally, because we had to manually key the orders into the POS, key-in errors did happen.”

From left: New POS system vs old paper system

I learnt that Tim Ho Wan had already implemented this new POS system (with the QR code printout, kitchen LAN printer, mobile ordering and inventory management systems) at seven of its eleven restaurant outlets. The company also trained its staff step by step on how to use this new QR system, with written operating procedures to remind staff.

Eileen was happy that her job is easier and less repetitive, saying:

“With this QR code system, customers can place their order by themselves, there’s no delay for the ordering, for the floor staff we can go about our other duties. I became more productive and can serve customers better.”

She was among a group of older workers aged above 50 years old who received higher pay due to her higher productivity, and more older workers would receive pay increases as well.

Eileen has been working at Tim Ho Wan for eight years and received a pay increase after learning how to use the new POS system

During our visit, she showed us how much easier her job has become, although the lunch crowd still kept her busy with customers. Instead of running from table to table collecting orders like in the past, she used the freed-up time to serve customers and chat with them, get feedback on their visit, and make them feel welcome.

She added:

“I want to encourage all mature workers to embrace new technologies. This new technology is not here to replace jobs, but to help us to be more productive and effective, and it also reduce stress and is less tiring. I enjoy my work even more nowadays.”

Special thanks to Tim Ho Wan for the interview. To learn more about Tim Ho Wan, visit https://www.timhowan.com/

This productivity initiative, funded by Workpro Job Redesign, was supported by NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to redesign jobs to be easier, smarter, and safer.

Read more worker stories at https://workersofsingapore.com/

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