Diligent work habits and paying attention to behaviour differences between cultures pays off for service leader Samnang Khut
One personification of excellence in service in Phnom Penh is Samnang Khut, 31, manager of The Shop on Street 240.
Now The Shop has two other locations, one on Street 338 in Tuol Kork and one on Street 102 inside the Colonial Mansion.
Khut, originally from Kandal province, has been working at The Shop for nine years. He’s the eldest in a family of two brothers and three sisters.
An important business practice for Khut is building customer loyalty.
“The way to build a customer loyalty is to be really warm to them, friendly, have good and hygienic food.”
Since many of the customers at the shop are foreigners, Khut pays particular attention to making sure the Khmer staff really know and understand what foreigners in particular expect.
“In a Khmer restaurant it might be different,” Khut said.
In his own life, Khut is easily able to shift into appropriate behaviors for the given situation between western and Khmer cultures.
“It depends on the situation you are in. If you step into a pagoda, you cannot act like a foreigner. Foreigners are different from Khmer people. Our greetings are different.”
Khut says local Khmer people even five years ago experienced culture shock when foreign-influenced behavior and standards in restaurants, hotels and everyday life started to show up Cambodia with greater speed.
“Sometimes when Khmer people saw foreign culture in the public or in a restaurant, they found the change coming so fast and this was a culture shock,” he said.
In terms of employing Khmer staff, Khut says both men and women are good employees and time needs to be taken when introducing Khmer people to dealing with foreigners.
Following the death of his father, Khut came to Phnom Penh and studied at Sisowatt High School in 1999. In 2002, at age 22 he went to work for The Club at Northbridge International School, serving food to the guests.
Today, in addition to his duties at The Shop, he supports his wife, Sophea who owns a coffee shop called Samnang Kitchen near the south side of Russian Market.
Khut started out as a waiter and worked almost five years before he became the manager. He really likes his job. He’s been the manager for the last four years and moves quickly to take care of business. It seems all routine to him now, easily handling any kind of situation with grace and courtesy, something the trainees pick up by watching him operate.
“The Shop is a coffee shop. It’s a place where people can have coffee, snacks and bread. It is a good place to eat. A standard place, with healthy fresh bread baked every day, fresh cakes and desserts. For example with our raspberry cake, we use all fresh raspberries, no chemicals and nothing artificial.”
The Shop also has an eco-friendly bicycle delivery service, mostly during lunchtime, where people can order and have the food brought to the office or home.
“It would be best if you order an hour in advance. For example, a delivery to Central Market would take 15 minutes to arrive.”
People interested to use The Shop’s bicycle delivery service can choose the menu items on their website at www.theshopcambodia.com or and phoning in the orders on 092 955 963 or 023 985 964.
“The minimum order is $5, so we don’t charge for the delivery for anything more than $5. We have two bicycles and we have two bikers. We put them on four hours a day, finish at 2 or 3 o’clock.”
Another tip for training Khmer staff is to lead by example.
“It will take time when it is someone’s first time working in a restaurant in a city with different people and a different culture. You can give them examples of how to act with the customer. This is important.”
Khut says the low season is April to September, followed by the high season starting now and lasting until March next year. The Shop opens at 7am and serves breakfasts of eggs, bread and fruit. Lunch is also busy with all kinds of sandwiches and salads.
“Everything is very fresh and delicious.” Khut says.
Honestly, I learn a lot of things here.
“Whenever you come to the shop you can expect a greeting and a friendly smile. Then you will have good food, for healthy and hygienic. You will have good coffee. I am a fan of coffee. We all keep our eye on the customer,” he said.
“I give praise to everybody in my company. I’ve been trained and taught by everybody who surrounded me and I learned from them.”