By TAMARA JAYNE
By now, most of us would be familiar with the famous “black charcoal burgers” and other succulent offerings on myBurgerLab’s (MBL) menu. But what’s more interesting about this burger place is their culture and their teams.
These have become the driving forces behind the rapid success of this home-grown company.
A direct testimony to this – backed by favourable customer reviews – is MBL’s workforce and its close-knit alumni, which has blossomed to over 800 people in just five years.
We visited one of its branches recently to get a closer look at what makes this company so desirable to its employees.
The bottom reflects the top
We are often told that good company culture starts from the top. This was clear when the Leaderonomics team popped over for a visit to one of its branches in Sea Park, Petaling Jaya and had a chat with its co-founder, Renyi Chin, as well as some of their employees – affectionately known within the organisation as ‘geeks’.
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It struck us that here, the need to bring you the best is a philosophy reserved not only for customers alone, but one that also permeates throughout the MBL team. It is clear from the way they treat each other.
Renyi explains this to us: “When there isn’t a sense of belonging at the workplace, arguments and refusals to perform certain tasks and work as a team are bound of surface. In turn, employees won’t be able to give their best to customers.”
“From day one, we have established that the workplace can be a fun environment and this is something our geeks can contribute to and control. It’s important that our geeks know why they are here,” says Renyi.
So, what’s special about working in myBurgerLab?
1. You can hone your skills for that resumé
You might be studying and are in need of a side income or work experience to flaunt in your resume. Or, maybe you just graduated and have no clue what to do next. Perhaps, you feel stuck in your current job and want to try something new.
Whatever the reason may be, as long as you are willing to learn, MBL gives you the platform to pick up essential interpersonal skills. They have geeks from all walks of life, and they are viewed as business partners of the company.
“One of the biggest lessons I have learnt here is understanding and accepting other people. I’ve learnt that irrespective of the background one may come from, it is always about respecting each other. As long as you walk in here to work, everyone is the same. The title or status you may have is irrelevant,” says Chloe Nai, who started off as an intern in 2014 and is now the assistant store manager at myBurgerLab, Sea Park, Petaling Jaya.
Ryan Thoo Foo Joe, an ex-geek who started off at MBL and then moved on and co-founded his own restaurant, Paperfish says:
I learnt many things from working at myBurgerLab but the one lesson that created the biggest impact for me was the importance of creating the best customer service experience, which is as essential as eating good food, as this translates to a great overall experience for our diners.
“One of the challenges we faced at MBL was trying to keep up with the fast pace of each and every service! We had a culture shock during our first shift – the crowd was crazy! Once the shutter opened, it was non-stop action until closing time. This experience proved to be very useful to us. It has definitely trained us to handle busy shifts,” add Sing Yi Lim and Sean Ooi, who both also started off as interns at myBurgerLab and have now moved on to open up their own cafe, Strangers at 47.
2. You are encouraged to have a voice of your own
Every three months, the company organises a town hall meeting where geeks are encouraged to speak up and discuss changes that may have occurred at their respective outlets.
Also, every night after hours, the team at MBL conducts a debriefing session where store managers and employees give their feedback.
We set these practices in place to let our geeks know that they have a voice.
“If they have ideas on how to make things better, we’re open to them because these ideas come from the very people who are on the ground executing and serving. And, if they have a better way of doing something, by all means, we encourage them to share it with us. We try our best to keep the channels open,” says Renyi.
3. Training is provided so you can grow
A gamification system in the company allows its employees to “level up” in their role. There are “cards” allocated for each role and these cards are given to the geek who has not only mastered a skill and but has also successfully taught it to another colleague. Once a geek collects three cards, it is time for a pay raise.
Management trainee programmes are also offered for new managers to improve their skills and leadership abilities. Students majoring in culinary arts, hospitality, and business would find working at MBL beneficial to their professional growth, mainly because of the insights they can gain before deciding to venture out on their own.
“I learnt everything from scratch including serving customers, prepping ingredients, flipping burger patties and making sure the outlet was clean and comfortable for customers to dine and enjoy themselves,” says Ryan who had not had any experience in food and beverage or retail servicing prior to joining MBL.
To Renyi, it all boils down to a sense of ownership. He said,
Other training schemes often give you a list and tell you to follow it from point 1 to 10. But when your staff do not understand why they are doing those tasks, they won’t do it.
“I can’t make someone take ownership, but I can help them understand why they are doing what they do. To be honest, we are not a perfect company. There are times when we do help them understand why they need to perform certain tasks, but mistakes still happen. But it’s still better than not knowing why at all,” adds Renyi.
4. You can build genuine friendships
Every first Monday of the month, MBL is closed and each branch gets together for a team bonding session. During the recent month of Ramadhan, everyone headed out to the bazaar and bonded over food and games.
“Everyone here is a part of one huge family. Regardless of the issues or emotional outbursts at work, we still – at the end of the day – make it up to each other by saying ‘Eh bro, come let’s go minum.’ We put our differences aside and move on, just like a family,” says Hafiz Aiman Suhaimi, intern.
For Ryan, the energy from his fellow team members helped him stay engaged at work.
“The open kitchen has an assembly line and teamwork was essential in getting the flow and timing right. Because we were all so well engaged and synergised, the assembly line always works like a well-oiled machine,” adds Ryan.
For Sing Yi, teamwork, passion and determination define her work lessons.
“These values were apparent in MBL founders and we highly respect them. They inspired both me and Sean. The people there and the positive vibes kept everyone moving and working harder for the company. We were very lucky to be able to work alongside the founders. I am not sure about now, but Renyi used to clean the kitchen with me!” quips Sing Yi.
Possessing the right qualifications is a good thing but you also get to learn the necessary skills at MBL even if you don’t have them (qualifications).
“It feels great when customers come and greet us lovingly. It’s the little things that really makes me look forward to coming to work, concludes Chloe.
The secret recipe to MBL’s success is evident in its work culture and treatment of staff.
When an organisation treats its people like family, listens to their recommendation and grouses and encourages its people to grow – even if it means that they will leave the nest some day in search of other opportunities – it creates a synergistic work place that rolls freedom, fun and a positive environment into a single menu.
Love to get a taste of working with myBurgerLab? Check them out at www.myBurgerLab.com/joinus/. You can also check out their Facebook page.
Tamara was previously an assistant editor and writer with Leaderonomics. She loves thought-provoking conversations over cups of tea. If she is not writing, you might find her hiking up a mountain in search of a new waterfall to explore.