Sunday, April 09, 2017

Pal's sudden service in Tennesse - what makes it tick ??

Within 80 miles of Kingsport Tennesse, are 26 locations of a super fast fast food outlet spread out in Tennesse and Virginia . Pal's fast food outlet ..The average time this fast food outlet takes to serve its customers is just 18 secs at a drive in counter and 12 seconds at a hand in counter. By the time you turn around the building and arrive at the other window, the order is ready for service.

This is Pal's super service. It is no small ordinary setup. It is the first restaurant company to have been awarded in 2001 the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award. Pal is known for its speed and accuracy. They make a mistake only once in 3600 orders ensuring great customer loyalty.

There is very less employee turnaround in this company, in all of 33 years of its history only 4 General managers at senior level have ever left the company, 1.4 percent at the Assistant Manager level and almost one third the industry average at the front office stage.

It makes a great learning to find how Pal's has been able to retain its employees. What surprises everyone is the great emphasis the company lays on selecting the right employees with attitude and then continuously training the,. Even though there are 1020 workers in the company's 26 locations, 90% of whom are part-time and 40% between the ages 16 and 18.

Lesson 1  - Hire for attitude and train for skills - a tough 60 point psychometric survey is able to catch the right candidate with the attitude and skills

Lesson 2 - Give employees constant opportunities for improvement - train the employees continuously, new employees are given upto 120 hours of on-the-job-training before given individual responsibilities. In every shift, in every location on every day two to four randomly selected employees are given a quiz to help re-certify them to be fit to do the job they are doing at that point of time, if they fail, they are taken off and given training till they qualify. On an average an employee can expect upto 2 to 3 pop quizzes in a month. This is an indication of the level of training and retraining the company gives to its employees so that they never err and are able to deliver the best standardised service to the customers.

Lesson 3 - Leaders have to be great teachers. All leaders at Pal are expected to spend at least 10% of their time teaching, having to identify a target subject and a target student every day.

Pal's commitment to hiring smart and teaching continuously their hires, makes them very responsible to their customers helping maintain great standards of service to their customers.

This is a great example of exemplary customer service of the best quality delivered in the shortest time.


Ref : 1. Bill Taylor, How one fast food chain keeps its turnover rates absurdly low, HBR, April 2017.
         2., last accessed 9 April 2017.

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