BEIJING -- Zhang Yong keeps it in the family. His company, Sichuan Haidilao Catering, only hires people that care for their parents.
Sichuan Haidilao operates a chain of about 90 restaurants in 24 Chinese cities that sell hot pots -- spicy stews of lamb, vegetables and other ingredients.
Zhang in 1994 quit his job as a welder in a state-owned factory and opened his first hot-pot restaurant with no catering experience. Regardless, he has proved a market pioneer. His motto is "service influences the customer's taste buds." He believes that people who are not capable of taking care of their parents cannot offer the kind of service that pleases others.
Such services include shining the shoes of customers waiting for seats and placing ingredients into the pots quickly and efficiently. Above all, every employee smiles, winning favor from customers who are accustomed to the the scowling service that often characterizes business in China.
Sichuan Haidilao opened its first foreign outlet in Singapore in December 2012, and another in Los Angeles in September 2013. "The kind of service that makes a difference in China is a given in the developed world," Zhang says.