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How 2 lessons from Zappos brought this Start- Up from 0 to 10,000 customers in one year

In my quest to look for companies with great corporate culture, I interviewed Jonathan Weins, the CEO and Founder of Farm To Fork Sdn Bhd, the company behind Dah Makan, a fast growing online gourmet food delivery service.

Started by three friends who live in the same house, Dah Makan’s vision is to be the third option when people don’t want the hassle of cooking or eating out. They aim to take away the pain of shopping and cooking, and make healthy food more accessible.

Today they have 100 riders delivering over 1,000 meals a day, every day.

How did they achieve such success in such a short time?

Jon took inspiration from Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, an online store that is known for its legendary customer service and culture.

The two lessons that made all the difference to Dah Makan are :

1. Focus on the customer not just the product
The vision is to make daily healthy food easily accessible to people. So it is super important for the customer’s experience to be easier than cooking or eating out.

Jon shared “We tried a lot of stuff that we thought was cool (for instance Uber style, 15min on-demand food delivery), however, sometimes the less exciting stuff – implementing delivery time frames – solves the customer’s real problem of knowing when their meal will arrive. So it’s important to stay focused on the customer’s need and not get carried away with cool gimmicks.”

To make sure the team at Dah Makan understands what these needs are, feedback is solicited after every meal and in-depth customer surveys are conducted annually.

2. Don’t outsource your core competency
“I especially also remember from the book where Zappos tried to outsource their logistics & warehouse because it was easier and seemed to be better to scale (in fact it created major mess and chaos for their customers).” said Jon.

“We encountered a similar issue while trying to work with third party logistics providers which seemed more attractive, especially for outside investors – you can easily scale up delivery and don’t have to bother with the details. However, we quickly realised it doesn’t work smoothly, and it’s a core competency of our business so we took on the challenge to master it ourselves.

“It’s a big challenge but at least if there is a mistake, there is no one else that we can blame but ourselves which motivates us to really look at the problem and try to solve it.” Jon concluded.

With their riders being the front-liners, I was curious to know how they managed to get them to deliver the appropriate customer experience.

Jon explained that all riders go through a two-day orientation where they are told that delivering food is something very special, something that is usually done by a loved one, a mom or wife or friend. When they understand the significance of their role, they treat each delivery with respect and care.

As a result, the riders have been doing such a good job that some customers even request for specific riders by name, proof that a relationship is built.

3. Don’t hire people you don’t want to hang out with
Although he didn’t say it, another similarity that the founders of Dah Makan have with Zappos is that the founders live together. Imagine working alongside a group of people that you trust and like that much!

4. Actions speak louder than words
So why did I decided to interview Jon in the first place? First of all, the service they provide is a Godsend to me: their food is delicious. But more importantly, they handled my complaint with grace. No justification, no excuses, just an honest apology and a sincere offer to make good. This tells me a lot about their values and culture. I respect that, and I know they will be successful – not just because of what they do, but because of who they are.

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