The Dabbawallah Service Model

Topics: Mumbai Suburban Railway, Tiffin, Dabbawala Pages: 13 (2756 words) Published: August 28, 2013

The word "Dabbawala" in Marathi when literally translated, means "one who carries a box". "Dabba" means a box (usually a cylindrical tin or aluminium container), while "wala" is a suffix, denoting a doer or holder of the preceding word. The closest meaning of the Dabbawala in English would be the "lunch box delivery man". Though this profession seems to be simple, it is actually a highly specialized service in Mumbai which is over a century old and has become integral to the cultural life of this city.

The concept of the dabbawala originated when India was under British rule. Many British people who came to the colony did not like the local food, so a service was set up to bring lunch to these people in their workplace straight from their home. Nowadays, although Indian business men are the main customers for the dabbawalas, increasingly affluent families employ them instead for lunch delivery to their school-aged children. Even though the services provided might include cooking, it primarily consists of only delivery either home-made or in that latter case, food ordered from a restaurant.


The Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust
This service was originated in 1880. In 1890, Mahadu Havaji Bacche started a lunch delivery service with about 100 men. In 1930, he informally attempted to unionize the dabbawallas. Later a charitable trust was registered in 1956 under the name of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust. The commercial arm of this trust was registered in 1968 as Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier's Association. The present President of the association is Sopan Laxman Mare. Nowadays, the service often includes cooking of food in addition to the delivery.

Why did we select this service?

The dabbawallas are known world over for their perfect service. They are almost a tourist attraction. Prince Charles himself fulfilled his desire to meet dabbawallahs and gain an insight in to their working. Many documentaries have been made to sum up the efficiency of their service. They deliver every unit on time without much or any technical support. They go by the motto of ‘customer is king’, to provide hassle-free service. They have a 6 sigma certification. And last but not the least, according to Thedore Levitt’s concept of product-service continuum, theirs is a pure service


✓ Work is Worship.

✓ Serving People is serving god.

✓ Annadan is Mahadaan

✓ Wearing White Cap during business hours

✓ Reporting to duty on time

✓ Respect the customers

✓ No alcohol or smoking while on duty

✓ Carry Identity Card

Q Factor Of Dabbawallahs:

• Error Rate:- 1 in 16 million transaction

• Six sigma Performance (99.9999)

• Technological Backup:- Nil

• Cost Of service:- Rs. 350- 400 per Month

• Standard price for all (Weight; Distance; Space)

• Rs. 30 Crore approximately Annual Turnover.

• “No Strike” records as reach one a share holder

• Earnings:- 5000 To 6000 pm

• 2011: 5000 recruits, 2,00,000 clients

• 350,000 deliveries

• 75 kms of public transport

• Failure: once in two months, one in 16 million

Majors Features Of Supply Chain:

• 0% Fuel

• 0% Modern Technology

• 0% Investment

• 0% Disputes

• 99.9999 Performance

• 100% Customer satisfaction

• Food is taken from home or mess & is delivered at office

7P’s of Dabbawallah Service:


The product Element here is basically a service they provide to the office goers by delivering their Tiffin box or more commonly called as ‘Dabba’ in the city of Mumbai. There are other ancillary physical products such as Tiffin Box, Gandhi Cap, Video CD on Dabbawala, Dabbawala Mug, Dabbawala T-shirt. These products are sold by the trust to earn more money and to work for the welfare of their members.


Bibliography: •
• “What can you learn from a dabbawallah” – Harsha Venkatesh
• Photos from google directory
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