Rey Elardo Naputo Group QA Manager at Express Food Group
“Bringing Continuous Improvement to life and impacting customer experience in a profound way”
We recently had a chat with Rey Elardo Naputo, Group Quality Assurance (QA) Manager at Express Food Group (EFG) (Pictured in blue). Rey reflected on his role at EFG for the last two years and how the company continues to invest in tools, automation, and new ways of working in order to boost productivity, while achieving excellent product and service quality.
Q: Rey, thanks so much for joining us today! Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background?
Sure! I have been in the restaurant business for some 20 years. I started as a frontliner, covering the kitchen and operations, and then progressed to managing restaurants. Since then, I have moved to quality assurance where I work directly with R&D, becoming involved in food quality, customer experience, and store design, including equipment and supplier selection.
I discovered that QA is my true passion. I was soon entrusted to cover multiple countries outside of the Philippines, where I’m from originally. After having spent 3 years in Kuwait and 4 years in Dubai, I joined EFG in Cambodia as the Group QA Manager in September 2020.
Q: We love your career mobility story. In your current role, what are some of your main goals and objectives?
I am measured not only on Customer, but also on the Employee Satisfaction Rates . I consider my customers to be both internal and external, you see. Additionally, the company looks at issue resolution rates of equipment maintenance, product quality and best-in-class processes. When these metrics are positive, they will automatically translate to higher sales and profitability for the company as a whole.
Q: What do you love most about your role?
Something I learned over the years is that marginal improvements can create a big impact on the company down the line. It excites me to see that my work - together with the team - brings continuous improvement to life and enhances our customer experience in a profound way.
Q: Tell us more about EFG; how long has the company been around and what does the operation look like today?
Let me start by saying that EFG’s corporate vision speaks to my heart: It is to be Southeast Asia’s customer-focused, most exciting evolving portfolio of F&B brands.
Established in 2004, Express Food Group now employs over 1,500 people and operates in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. EFG is the partner of choice for leading food & beverage brands in Southeast Asia - Minor Foods and Food Passion Group - and for North American brands like Dairy Queen, Krispy Kreme, and Texas (Church’s) Chicken. A complete portfolio of EFG’s brands are listed here.
Q: What are some of the tools you use in day to day operations? And how does it impact your work?
EFG invests a significant amount of resources into technology.
For us, standardizing high-quality products and safe, excellent customer experience has not always been easy to achieve, especially across more than a hundred locations in multiple countries. As new processes and initiatives are deployed, field and store teams must be equipped to adapt and do their jobs properly. That is where Nimbly’s Smart Routines & Audit solution has been valuable.
We use Nimbly as our operational excellence tool. Not only does Nimbly help ensure optimal store execution across our brands and outlets, but it also simplifies and automates many of the tasks involved in rolling out new processes to existing stores, or even opening new stores.
We are able to maintain our brands’ high standards consistently in all locations - from food preparation, cleaning, facility & equipment maintenance, and other operational procedures like on-the-job training. Even safety protocols and promotions are automated and easily tracked digitally.
Our customers expect the highest quality from our restaurants, and when our stores are clean, food is perfect, and atmosphere is just right - they will continue to come back. Nimbly has been my go-to tool to manage these different parameters, and it’s amazing to think that we were able to deploy it virtually during Covid across eight brands in three countries within several months. I wish I had known about Nimbly before, because it would have been helpful in the Philippines and in other markets as well.
Also read: EFG’s Success Story with Nimbly
Q: And what does your typical day look like?
I normally start very early and begin my day by looking at Nimbly's dashboard. I will then prioritize the unannounced store visits based on the dashboard data and spend most of my time out in the field with my team and customers. I try to visit as many stores as I can every day.
Q: You recently won an award for your outstanding contribution to the company. What is the secret of your success?
When I first moved to Cambodia, I believe I was the first person in the industry with a QA role. Step by step, I introduced the improved operational standards to the team, starting with our bigger brands first, like the Pizza Company, and then moving to the rest.
You have to be a people person: not only listening to customers, but also to your team. I took careful notice of my team’s needs in order to adopt new processes and technology. I then organized the training sessions accordingly, and look at us now! Within a year, our foodservice execution rate is consistently close to 100% and our Customer Satisfaction Rate is 90 compared to the industry benchmark of 50! Nimbly has been a great partner in all of that and my team appreciates how easy of a tool it is to use.