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Posts Tagged ‘Pret a Manger’

We have a handful of updates on some recent stories.

First, Apple has taken steps to address complaints about its labor practices. Specifically, they have signed up the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to audit its suppliers’ plants (Apple Initiates Labor Audit, Wall Street Journal, Feb 13). Apple asserts that these audits are “unprecedented in the electronics industry.”

Of course, the nattering nabobs of negativism over at the New York Times have called into question the effectiveness of the FLA audits in other industries (Critics Question Record of Monitor Selected by Apple, Feb 14). The FLA was formed by the likes of Nike and universities to prevent the use of sweatshop labor to make college T-shirts (I am pretty sure my employer is among the member universities). Some claim their overall performance isn’t so great:

Since its founding, the association has inspected more than 1,300 factories in Asia and Latin America, uncovering myriad violations. But despite these successes, many labor advocates say its efforts have barely made a dent in improving working conditions.

“The Fair Labor Association is largely a fig leaf,” said Jeff Ballinger, director of Press for Change, a labor rights group. “There’s all this rhetoric from corporate social responsibility people and the big companies that they want to improve labor standards, but all the pressure seems to be going the other direction — they’re trying to force prices down.”

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Another interesting service ops story. One of the challenges in service is assuring staff are productive and friendly. Yes, manufacturers need to worry about productivity but capital and technology often play a much bigger role in determining what gets done today. Even if worker effort is the deciding factor in how much gets made in a factory, services are still different since at least some of the staff has to be customer facing. The customer who buys a car or a shirt never comes face to face with the workers who made it. That is not the case at a fast food restaurant. Here the service aspect of service matters.

And that gets us to a New York Times piece of Pret a Manger, a British sandwich chain that is now expanding in the US who provides fast service with a smile (Would You Like a Smile With That?, Aug 7). Pret a Manger aims to serve customers within 60  seconds and while being pleasant and  friendly and so far has been able to do this even in New York. Further, they have a workforce turnover of only 60%. (Remember that this is fast food where turnover rate is often well over 100%.)

So what is their secret sauce? (more…)

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