Over the last couple of days, I have been thinking about businesses that I have experienced before and what I have liked about them, what made them great and what made me want to use them again. Pondering this, a memory of a time that I first lived in London in the mid-1990s came back to me.
What I remembered was going to Tokyo Diner, just off Leicester Square in the centre of London, for the first time in 1995 and then going back again and again. I’m still going, when I can, to this day.
What I liked about it that made it stand out was:
- They don’t accept tips or put service on your bill and you can’t tip them. It’s a Japanese cultural thing. But what they do say, which I really like is:
“Please come again, and bring your friends”
- They don’t serve Tuna as they believe that they want to play no part in the decline of the global Tuna population, whether sustainably fished or not.
- Ever since they opened in 1992, they have believed that it is perfectly possible to succeed in business without damaging the environment. Their thinking is epitomised by a question on their website that says: “If a business damages the environment, can it ever be considered to be a true success?” They now source all of their power needs from a supplier that only uses sustainable energy sources.
- They serve an infinite amount of green tea
Now, despite the fact that I no longer live in London I do try and go back there as much as I can as I just like it. However, when I was doing some research for this post, I checked out their website and found this:
“Recruit the best employees, and the customers will recruit themselves.”
This was news to me but what surprised me was that their whole website is focused on recruiting employees and is not there to promote their business.
I am a huge advocate of the customer but do believe that you cannot build a great business if you do not treat your team as well as your customers. But, I have never seen a business take such a bold approach before and I like it. It makes them stand out.
Moreover, for Tokyo Diner there is something of real value in this approach, especially since they went into profit in the first month of trading back in 1992, no mean feat in the restaurant trade and in the centre of London, and have not looked back since serving between 300 and 550 meals a day 365 days a year.
This employee centric approach has been around for a long time and was recently brought to popular attention by Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, in his recent book: Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down. You can read a copy of the book here. But, I have not seen anyone take the employee centric approach to such an extreme before.
Tokyo Diner’s success seems to be geared around offering great opportunities for young and upcoming Japanese chefs, the way they operate their business, the customer experience that they deliver and their word of mouth approach (“Please come again, and bring your friends”) that underpins everything they do.
It’s different, it stands out, it works and I, for one, can’t wait to go back.
Thanks to adrian, acediscovery for the image.