Saturday, May 9, 2009

May I Have a Scone with my Coffee?

Fresh Pastry at Panera Bread


How much information passes among how many people when a restaurant chain rolls out a new capability? If the chain is well organized and the change is not too great, such a campaign may well be handled through normal channels by a series of announcements and emails and follow up calls.

Suppose, however, the change involves the roll out of a new store technology. For example, a coffee chain that has always brought ready-made muffins in through the back door may decide to bake muffins right in the store. Suddenly, a host of questions have to be answered:

  • Which of our stores are properly licensed to prepare food on premises? (Some coffee shops are not allowed to smear cream cheese on a bagel.)
  • Should the muffins be made from scratch or par-baked in advance and finished within hours of serving?
  • What equipment would be required to store and bake the muffins?
  • How should the restaurant be reconfigured to accommodate the new equipment?
  • Would new construction or wiring or HVAC capabilities be required?
  • Would logistics systems need to be modified as the proportion of fresh and frozen product flowing into the restaurant changed?
  • How many stores could be retrofitted for the new capability within 3 months? Within 6 months? What would that cost?
  • How should the roll out be staged? How should it be announced?
It is the kind of daunting challenge that might cause one coffee chain to "stick to the knitting" and concentrate on the beverage trade, while another, equally aware of the costs, might seize the opportunity to take a strategic leap ahead of the competition.

Of course, the chain with the best processes and systems for managing information about its stores' facilities, capabilities and capacities would find it easier to opt for change, while its competitors would be left to make excuses. And, over the not so very long run, the chains that decide to actively manage information about the lifecycle of their stores will eclipse the competition.

Fresh pastry or fresh attitude?


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Brand, Menu and Store Design and Chain Restaurant Development.

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1 comment:

Timothy said...

A couple of the Bella Italia locations tried to introduce smoothies into their menu, which you'd think would be a really simple extension considering their offering. My goodness it did not go well, they weren't on the menu long. I can see a couple points here that were not thought about and contriobuted to the complete roll out being abandoned.