Opportunity Lost

To: White Castle
From: Mitch Berg – guy who loves White Castle, although Keto denies it to me
Re: Missed Chances

Dear White Castle,

Why did you not get to this idea first?

That is all.

6 thoughts on “Opportunity Lost

  1. True story at Taco Bell in Chanhassen.

    Read this as my critique on the evils of corporate capitalism – then ponder how much worse it would be under democratic socialism

    Me: Whoa, there is no lettuce in my tacos.
    Clerk: Yeah, we are out of lettuce.
    Me [pointing out the window] Byerlys is like right over there, why don’t you send someone across the parking lot to buy lettuce?
    Clerk [shaking head no]: We can only use what the Taco Bell mothership provides.
    Me: So you serve tacos without lettuce to unsuspecting customers.
    Clerk: Hey, I just work here.

  2. I drove for Dominos from 1992-1995. The only food that I ever saw/had to go buy if we ran out were canned mushrooms (to backfill the fresh mushrooms from the corporate commissary) and canned pineapple (to backfill the canned pineapple from the corporate commissary). We never bought any other item from anywhere else.

    I have no idea if that still happens. Given today’s litigious society, I doubt it does anymore.

  3. Regarding “only use what the Taco Bell mothership sends”, restaurants like Taco Bell and MacDonald’s thrive on consistency, and that starts with the supply chain. The bet is that customers will keep coming if they never get a nasty surprise. Yes, that simultaneously means that they are intentionally working things so you never get a pleasant surprise. I would bet that the manager would be fired if he walked over to Byerly’s to get lettuce, actually.

    Lawsuits fit into it too–you have trusted suppliers and those you don’t like so much–but mostly the whole system is designed to make sure that no matter where you are in the world, your Taco Bell Chalupa (or whatever) is the same mediocre glop. Not good, not bad, but mediocre. And they also have strict control of FIFO (first in first out) so you don’t let it rot on the shelves. Or, rather, managers who stick around a few years keep strict control of FIFO.

    Weddings there? I guess, again, with the limitation of “will it disrupt service to other customers needlessly?”

  4. I fully understand the concept of consistency of the product, supply chain and all that….but getting a taco without lettuce was a nasty surprise.

    So these are the choices a franchise has when it runs out of a key ingredient:

    1) Close the business until the key ingredient is available.
    2) Buy key ingredient out of supply chain (Byerlys).
    3) Alert the customer to the missing ingredient and discount the price.
    4) Do none of these things and shrug shoulders when customers complains.

    Corporate must choose one of the four options and train employees accordingly. The fact that either they failed to do that or they chose option 4 means that there is a crisis in decision making at Taco Bell corporate headquarters.

    My point was….how does socialism handle such contingencies? Watch HBO’s Chernobyl to learn how.

  5. This is funny that this comes up today.

    Yesterday morning, my wife stopped at the Caribou coffee at Normandale Village, which is inside a Lund’s store, to get us coffee. Her drink needed skim milk and the barista told her that they were out, but would have more in about 30-45 minutes. My wife had the same reaction; “But, there is skim milk on the other side of the store. Can’t you just go get some?” She said the same thing. “We have to get it from our company.” She also gave my wife two free drink cards, which we used about an hour later.

  6. I’m guessing that they don’t have a workaround in place because if they do, their employees will use it–and they will use the system that is easier to them consistently, not just when it’s urgent. So it won’t just be a head of lettuce when needed, or a quart of skim milk, but the entire system of recording inventory usage, ordering new stock, and the like. For example, I remember going to Perkins one time, and when my daughter ordered a dish with avocados, they learned to their chagrin that while they had plenty of that fruit, only one was good. FIFO and removal of bad inventory was clearly not working.

    It’s why, I’d guess, Wal-Mart’s entire inventory system is automated except for periodic audits. The workers can’t screw up what they can’t touch, and I’m told that when the Wal-Mart truck arrives at a store, nobody at the store has any idea what’s on it. And that’s a big reason that while a lot of the goods there are junk, they’re almost always in stock if Bentonville wants it that way.

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