Words by Julia Chan
Learn About Neo Garden’s Competitive Advantage
Neo Garden is a household name that is often associated with quality food and reliable services. Popular for baby full-month celebrations, birthdays and festive occasions, this flagship brand of Neo Group Limited has won numerous awards and enjoys strong brand recognition across Singapore.
How does Neo Garden consistently win the hearts of customers?
It started when its founder, chairman and CEO, Neo Kah Kiat had an unsatisfactory buffet catering experience at a friend’s birthday party. Neo, who had been an entrepreneur since he left school at Secondary Two to lift his family out of poverty, decided to enter the food industry after that experience,
Neo Garden’s vision is simple: To deliver quality food, with quality setup and on time delivery to every customer, every time. It has won the hearts of many customers with its “One chef, one dish” philosophy and a strong central kitchen operation that enables its team to cater up to 500 guests within a three-hour notice.
Jessie Ong, assistant director of Neo Garden’s Marketing & Business Development, said, “From food ingredients to catering equipment like chafing dishes and table skirtings, only the best are used. Through our supplies and trading division, we build a strong value chain of our own which enables us to source for raw materials directly to have better control over cost, quality, and consistency of the food we produce.
Our “One chef, one dish” philosophy also allows each chef to be put in charge of just one dish, to ensure perfection of the taste and consistency. It is a tenet that we will never compromise on, and one that has won us numerous accolades which has kept us at the forefront of the local food industry.”
Reinventing signature products and services
To meet the ever-changing needs of customers, Neo Garden continues to innovate and create new products and services.
Ong elaborated, “Neo Garden has accompanied and journeyed through the different milestones in our customers’ lives – from Baby Full Month, Birthdays, Wedding, Festive celebrations such as Christmas, Chinese New Year and many more. And we aspire to be the celebration partner for our customers that goes beyond catering. Hence, we came up with different service offerings such as Dessert Table, Themed Décor, Rentals and more. We recently launched our Petite Epicure Dessert & Savoury Bar, that is perfect for any occasion – birthdays, baby shower or even wedding solemnisation.”
Remember Neo Garden’s Famous Curry Chicken? This legendary signature dish is so popular that over a million people have it every year, consistently topping the leaderboard as the Number 1 dish in Neo Garden.
“We specially created the Curry Bomb (a fluffy golden bun wrapped around our Famous Curry Chicken) to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. The Curry Bomb allows our customers to have their Neo Garden’s curry chicken fix, whenever they want! That is not all, we just ended a fundraising campaign with Joseph Schooling, where we donated the proceeds from the sales of 30,000 Curry Bombs to Singapore Swimming Association & The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. Over half a million dollars was raised through this meaningful campaign and we are heartened to know our Curry Bombs have impacted the lives of many,” Ong added.
Keeping staff happy
Neo Garden hires around 50 Singaporeans ranging from 20 to 70 years of age across different departments. With high volumes of orders daily, workers have to prepare more than 500 kg of vegetables every day. Most workers in the food preparation process are older workers, and the manual load can be tedious.
To automate food preparation, Neo Garden wanted to tap on new technology and advanced equipment to ease and enhance office and kitchen operations. It spoke to NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to implement the WorkPro Job Redesign Grant which saw its older workers having easier, smarter and safer jobs via two investments: the Produce Washing Machine and the Bowl Cutter.
With microbubbles produced by the Produce Washing Machine, the cleaning power of microbubbles combines with the antibacterial power of ozone to kill bacteria, remove pesticides, and keep the washed produce fresh. With auto mixing functions to allow for total cleaning, workers do not need to do manual stirring anymore, lowering the risk of cross-contamination. Neo Garden was pleased to find that there was reduced waste and washed food was safer to consume. Workers also found that washing vegetables now takes five minutes per wash, versus 20 minutes in the past.
Usually workers would manually cut food, but since Neo Garden purchased a Bowl Cutter funded by the WorkPro Job Redesign Grant, workers now simply put the food in the Bowl Cutter, a cutter that can chop, stir, and mix at high speed in the bowl. Equipped with integrated ventilation and programmable features to store recipes according to the knife shaft speed, bowl rotations, and temperature, workers only need to choose the pre-programmed recipes, and insert the food into the Bowl Cutter for cutting. This also does away with the need for workers to memorise recipes. Time spent cutting was halved from 40 minutes to 20 minutes per batch.
With a lighter workload, safer work and higher productivity, older workers also enjoyed incentives such as a wage increase by Neo Group under e2i’s WorkPro Job Redesign Grant as well.
Neo Garden isn’t resting on its laurels just yet. The spokesperson said, “During this Covid-19 period, we’re working internally to restructure our operations, improve on work processes, and re-train our staff, to prepare for the reopening of the economy ahead.”
Customers will be delighted to hear that post COVID-19, Neo Garden plans to expand the range of cuisine and catering options beyond the current party-sharing sets, lunch boxes, bento sets and takeaway meals.
For more information on Neo Garden, visit www.neogarden.com.sg