‘Akka Nasi Lemak Viral’ proprietor is not your ordinary ‘makcik’ nasi lemak seller

IT was a joy speaking to down-to-earth Sangeetha Manimalar, 34, the brain behind the Akka Nasi Lemak Viral craze where her customers claimed to have queued up to seveen hours to savour her food.

She is business savvy, has the gift of gab, exudes humility and places priority to customer service and food quality – all of which are hidden ingredients that makes her nasi lemak ‘extra nourishing’ and ‘worth dying for’.

“I dropped out from my hotel management course at Sunway University after two years due to my family’s financial constraints but the foundation that I’ve picked up was good enough to give me a bird-eye view of how to run a small food business,” she told FocusM in fluent English.

“My business is still very happening and I wish to capitalise on the social media hype that have boosted the nasi lemak business which I’ve been running for the past 10 years.”

In order to keep the crowd coming while reducing waiting time thus boosting customer satisfaction, Sangeetha has since April 22 initiated a token system whereby each token is valid for the purchase of up to five packets of her nasi lemak, thus ensuring fairer distribution.

Innovative management

“We start distributing the tokens as early as 2am so that when I turn up between 7am and 7.30am to open my stall, there can be a smooth distribution process so much so by 3pm I can wrap up my business while all the customers with token can get a chance to taste my nasi lemak,” shared Sangeetha.

Joke aside, the token system will come in handy because she could be catering up to “500 to 850 pax or sometimes even 900 pax” during weekends. During weekdays, her “corporate customers” are known to have made pre-orders while she sells between 500 to 600 pax.

“There have been busloads of people on spiritual tour who made a stop-over to buy my nasi lemak – usually in the range of 50 to 100 pax – but these people usually informed me in advance of their presence,” noted the mother of two boys.

As exhausting as it can be, Sangeetha stresses the importance of fronting her just ROC (Registrar of Companies)–registered Akka Nasi Lemak Viral business by herself to ensure satisfactory customer service and food handling.

“I’ve five of my family members helping out with the cooking and servicing – all of which I will personally supervise to ensure that all our customers are satisfied with both our food quality and customer service,” she revealed of her management style.

“This is not to say that I stinge from hiring outsiders for we do hire helpers but they stay behind in the kitchen to do cutting and washing, among other chores.”

Social media hype

Sangeetha’s foresight of keeping her business of 10 years sustainable with the right management strategies – most notably food quality and friendly customer service – rather than solely relying on social media hype is praiseworthy simply because the latter can be a double-edged sword if the business owner is not careful.

As fast as any social media platform can be a springboard that makes any business an overnight sensation, it too, can make any business an overnight disaster for words can spread like wildfire on both ends of the extreme.

Sangeetha surely cannot afford this as she is her family’s sole breadwinner after her husband encountered walking disability following an accident one year ago.

For the benefit of her customers from near and far, Sangeetha has opened a TikTok account recently which at time of writing has gathered 98,500 followers and 589,300 likes.

Now that social media has been an extraordinary phenomenon in her life, there is no harm for Sangeetha to derive as much benefit from it so long as she can keep her two feet firmly on the ground.

“Social media is very scary … this Akka Nasi Lemak Viral phenomenon is really unbelievable crazy,” observed TikTok coach Lady Boss Jamie (@jamiethoo).

TikTok coach Lady Boss Jamie (@jamiethoo)

“She (Sangeetha) used to be my neighbourhood nasi lemak stall by the roadside … I used to consume one or twice weekly in the past but since the stall became viral, I no longer dare to patronise her stall for fear of having to queue up for seven hours.

“This happened soon after being interviewed by (food review blog) KL Foodie (some netizens claimed it was the Fun n Taste food channel) after which her business just became viral to the extent that hundreds of people invaded Seri Kembangan, and more and more media are approaching her for interview.”

Added Lady Boss Jamie: “Imagine she has just opened her TikTok account recently and the number of her followers have skyrocketed within a few days. So,for those of you in the business line, do leverage social media like TikTok to promote your business for you will never know if your product offering, too, can become viral.” – May 4, 2023

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