Management lessons from a sweet shop

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For the sweet toothed travelers a visit to Vadodara is incomplete without a visit to the Pendawala Duliram Ratanlal Sharma’s shop near the Collectors office in Raopura, Vadodara. The shop is open on all days other than Mondays and public holidays. The shop is open from 8am till about 10pm.The shop has a rich history and has maintained its place since 1864 when it was first started. Presently the shop is run by Sanjay Sharma, Himanshu and jatin Sharma, the fifth generation of pendawalas. A small temple in the back shop area is also about 125 years old and the faith in the almighty has brought prosperity across the generations. The shop excels in making pedas which are round sweets made of mava or condensed milk. These are gifted and eaten especially on festivals and in the National Academy of Indian Railways on 15th August and 26th January.

So what is different and what management lessons can we learn?

To ensure quality in the process the shop has been sourcing mawa from the same source for the last 60 odd years something like long term contracts in the Industry. The dough and mixtures required for the pendas (pedas) and other sweets are made by machines and high levels of cleanliness and hygiene are maintained. Each peda weighs about 18-20 grams and one gets about 60 to a kilogram. So technology is used to improve process capability. The final sweets are however prepared by halwais from Benaras, Mathura and Agra. All of them take pride in their pedas and as such are able to maintain the quality and taste levels. This shows that finally it is the man behind the machine who is still important.

The Vadodara Municipal Corporations food inspectors regularly check the sweet samples and these have never failed. To ensure quality and gain credibility it is essential to have third party audits. The recipe of these sweets as well as the baking procedure is intrinsic knowledge but there still is some inherent system of knowledge management that the knowledge has been passed on from one generation to the next. For the connoisseur it is the taste that matters as I am sure even if we know the recipe we will not be able to replicate the pedas.

How can this be marketed?

Can we think of Indian sweet tourism? This could be similar to the paid visit to chocolate factories and wine breweries that are conducted abroad. They charge tickets for the same and in the end one ends up buying the chocolates/wines from the shop. I am sure if not this we may soon have some city heritage walks in the future which terminate at this sweet shop and provide an opportunity to the sweet tooth enthusiasts to satiate their desires.

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