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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Time to buy the stuffing

An antic from my past, that is a little late for Thanksgiving but ironically appropriate.

I worked for a foodservice company one autumn. The company excelled at tracking average use of products, but did not have any protocol or support for forecasting seasonal needs. This is bad news for a food item such as stuffing, which has more demand in one week than the other 51 weeks combined. Just days before the holiday, all the stuffing was sold out, and there was massive demand from upset customers.

It was a crisis, and it was about to be held very badly.

Rather than determine when the stuffing could arrive from suppliers, and how much demand would be remaining upon arrival, the merchandise manager simply ordered all the stuffing available. Unfortunately, even stale breadcrumbs have a best-by date, and they take up a lot of space in a busy warehouse.

In business we will face many crises, we can choose to take a deep breath, evaluate options, and minimize the damage; or we can make a quick over-reaction that will provide us a new set of problems.

  • - Did you run out of a key item in your store or restaurant? Don't just buy up everything you can get your hands on, make a plan.
  • - Get bad feedback from customers in a public forum? Don't try to discredit the commenter with "positive" comments. You'll make their opinion (and others) much worse.
  • - Try a promotion that didn't work out as planned? Think quick & carefully about what will rectify the situation rather than make it worse.

You need to act quickly, but quick does not mean without significant discussion and evaluation. Maybe it's time to call in some help to put a fresh perspective on the situation from someone not directly involved.

Just don't buy too much stuffing.

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