Continued from Part 3 – What are the systems that Thai Odyssey implemented that successfully helped to steer the business to the right path?
At Thai Odyssey, every customer gets their feet washed before going on to their massage. This is a very traditional Thai practice that customers love. “I have some customers say to me, they pay a little more here, but get someone to wash their feet,” quips Chuah.
To explain why they are serious in training their masseuses to set a standardized code of service, Chuah continues, “We ensure only good therapists come our way. Our requirements are that our masseuses come from well-known massage schools in Thailand and have four to six years of experience. After they have been recruited, they will go through another month of intensive training to learn Thai Odyssey’s Integrated Spa & Customers Service System (TOISCSS) before they begin work as a masseuse.”
They also train their front desk personnel to have impeccable customer service skills. Their masseuses do not speak much English, only their native languages. They do not make an effort to teach them English because it is part of the authentic Thai experience for customers as it comes as a whole Thai experience package.
Business wasn’t always smooth sailing though. After two years of operating, Chuah received a cruel shock when local authorities barged in to eight of his outlets on the same day, closed them down and locked up all his people. Chuah was accused of not having the right permits for his workers. At that time, each of his masseuse was carrying a working pass as issued by the immigration office. Chuah was informed that the working pass was only meant for a foreign professional. Chuah’s argument that it was issued to him by the immigration office fell on deaf ears. He was promptly locked up for five days.
“I didn’t sleep at all in those five days,” laughs Chuah. “I was even told that I would possibly be caned for my crime. Can you imagine what went through my mind? Thankfully I had good people who came to bail me out. After that, all my 50 workers were also released.”
Immediately upon his release, Chuah made his way to the immigration office to speak with the local authorities. Even though he faced lots of rejection, he did not give up. He continued to pursue the matter in order to get the authorities to create a column for him to fill in the names of his employees as spa therapists. Today, laws have been made to accommodate foreign workers and the immigration office issues working pass specifically for spa therapists. “Before that, there was no such form for this type of application. In a way, we initiated this,” smiles Chuah.
This article appeared in The Star on 3rd June 2014.