May 25, 2012
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It is this very simplicity and the zeal to work hard that has made the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin-box Supplier Trust, one of the most efficient services across the world.

It does not just stop there. Top notch universities like Harvard and leading companies like Microsoft, Accenture and SAP have invited the members of this association and done detailed case studies on their functionality and business models. Entrepreneur Lessons has etched out some of the most important teachings that the Dabbawalas can provide to lead a startup to success.

These are the lessons that every entrepreneur should learn from the Dabbawalas.


1. Effective hierarchy

The association has more than four thousand semi-literate members and has survived the industry for more than a hundred years. With efficient collaboration between the different levels of operation like the governing council consisting of president, vice-president, general secretary, treasurer and nine directors; the mukadams and the Dabbawalas the association provides a customer loyal door to door delivery service.

2. The Cypher

Dabbawalas collect and deliver Tiffin boxes from every corner of the city serving over a million families. The boxes are coded with a particular set of colors which define the region of reception and delivery. The codes are governed by an experience set of mukadams who have good knowledge about the ciphering technique. It is said that even a minute mistake in the coding or the decoding can put the complete system in a mess.

3. Co-ordination and support

The service comprises of many small groups which are financially independent but work together with great synchronization. Though there is tough competition among the groups to fetch customers and provide better service, they work towards the same goal.

4. Time Management

For the delivery service the most important parameter is the time. Any discrepancy in the timelyness of the service results in service failure. Hence the mission to deliver the Dabbas starts every morning at 9 and by the lunch time that is about 12 in the noon, all the boxes are coded dispatched and delivered. Post lunch, the whole process is reversed and the dabbas are returned back to the respective houses.

5. Referrals

To acquire more customers, the Dabbawalas encourage their clients to make referrals to there relatives friends and acquaintances. Nothing can boost the business more than promotion and references of the services backed by customer satisfaction.



About author

Dr Shailesh Thaker

Dr. Shailesh Thaker is a world-renowned management thinker and trainer on organizational behavior and development. He is the CLO of Knowledge Plus Inc., a highly reputed training firm based in Ahmedabad, India, helping organizations to achieve international benchmarks in management practices.

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