Hawker teams up with private-hire driver in win-win arrangement

Hawker Jason Huang (left) roped in national service buddy Ronnie Tay, a private-hire driver, to make food deliveries.
Hawker Jason Huang (left) roped in national service buddy Ronnie Tay, a private-hire driver, to make food deliveries.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Unlike many hawkers who have been badly hit by the dine-in ban, Mr Jason Huang did not experience a drop in the number of orders he receives.

The third-generation hawker has been able to steer his 53-year-old family business to safety by offering islandwide delivery.

However, he is not on any food delivery platform.

Instead Mr Huang, 30, teamed up with a national service buddy - Mr Ronnie Tay, 32, who is a private-hire driver.

Over in Toa Payoh West, where Come Daily Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee is located, Mr Huang prepares up to 240 packets of noodles a day.

About half are for walk-in customers while the rest are for deliveries.

Roping in Mr Tay helps Mr Huang avoid commission fees of up to 35 per cent charged by food delivery platforms.

His profit margins are slim, with the smallest-size portions of Hokkien mee costing $5.

The cost of ingredients such as prawns and eggs has risen by 5 per cent to 10 per cent since last year, due to shortages arising from Malaysia's movement control order.

Taking food delivery orders through Facebook or on his mobile phone - at least one day in advance - helps Mr Huang plan ahead for both online and walk-in customers.

He said: "With your own system, you can limit how many orders you receive throughout the week and what time you will accept orders.

"Customers can ask for a specific timing between 10am and 12.30pm, and we will try to accommodate their requests."

This system was first tested during the circuit breaker last April, with him promoting the stall on Facebook and Instagram.

To allow Mr Huang to focus on serving walk-in customers during lunch, he does not provide on-demand food delivery orders.

Instead, he prepares delivery orders in the morning, one or two hours before they are sent out.

Such an arrangement keeps both Mr Huang and Mr Tay busy even though the non-peak hours have been quieter than usual owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Tay, who is paid per trip, said: "There are fewer passengers on the move these days. So I do food deliveries in the day for side income and drive at night."

The private-hire driver prefers working with his friend to accept food delivery orders, because he has control over planning his route.

He said: "For food delivery platforms, you have to deliver orders based on which one comes first."

The duo will continue working together for the foreseeable future.

Mr Huang said: "He helps me and I help him. We need each other to survive this period."