Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Chope Inefficiency

People in Singapore food courts generally follow a practice of holding their seats before going to buy food. In the local lingo it’s called to “Chope” seats. Now, over the last several years, I have perfected the art of chope-ing as well.

Unfortunately, I ended up being at this very popular food court the other day where people were much more efficient at the game than I ever was. I ended up waiting for more than 30 minutes just to get a seat to park my bum, before I even went to a food stall to get my food.

That’s when my empty mind, realized the extreme inefficiency of this practice. If I am a hotelier, one of my key KPIs is – table-turnaround time. In layman’s terms – it’s just the number of tables (and subsequently people) that I can serve in a given unit of time. This KPI includes the time required to take orders, serve, clean table and then get the next set of people in. If you wish to see this efficiency – go see an Udupi restaurant in India or a Ramen place in Singpaore.

Now when you chope a seat, you are effectively keeping the table empty (which could have been occupied by someone else while you were ordering your food. If you order from good stalls, on an average it takes 10+ minutes to get your food. And during lunch times, people eat for approx 15+ minutes anyway. So almost 2/3 of the turnaround time of an average lunch time patron is wasted because of the chope! If we stop this practice, the number of people eating at a seat can go up from approx. 2 an hour to 4 an hour? (Yeah my math may be way wrong out there! But I hope you get the concept!). So next time you go eat, don’t chope, just order and then take your food and scout for a place. You will be doing the food court a great service!

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