In Marathi or Hindi, ‘Dabba’ means tiffin box and ‘wala’ refers to a person. A Dabbawala, is a person in the city of Mumbai whose job is to carry and deliver freshly made food from home to office of the customer. Basically a Dabbawala is any person who carries the lunch box from the customer’s residence and delivers it to the customer’s work place. But Mumbai Dabbawalas are recognized by the quality of spirit that they carry with them, which make them a class apart. The standards that they have indulged in their work culture and the determination to serve make them to raise their grit to any level that the job demands. Each one of them individually and collectively as a group have performed their task with a single minded focus.
Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association is a 120 year old organization operating in Mumbai city, India. In Mumbai most of the population travel everyday for about 100 kilometers to reach their work place, and since they tend to leave their residence early in the morning it is hard for their family members to prepare lunch during such a time, and even if they do prepare it is very much hard to carry it in the local train since it is too crowded. So it makes sense for them to hire Dabbawalas to deliver the lunch box at their work place in the afternoon, fresh and hot. The activity of the Dabbawalas involve collection, sorting, transferring and delivering the lunch boxes at customers work place and again the process is repeated in reverse way. They have to deliver 2,00,000 such lunch boxes everyday, and they have been awarded Six Sigma for their operation, which means that they make one error in every 16 million transactions. This puts them in the list with MNC’s like GE and Motorola.
They have a flat organization structure, with just three tiers; the governing council, the Mukadams and the Dabbawala’s. This gives much freedom for the members to take the instant decisions depending on the situation.
The target customers