Snap Kitchen fmr Product Lead on Managing Complex Products (Part 3)
Once the food arrives in the kitchen, there’s food prep, cooking and assembly. This is a labor intensive issue. Cooking, cutting, grinding meat, preparing sauce… it’s almost always done by hand. What happens when workers call off sick? When you’re managing complex products like food services, you have to anticipate that and have a backup plan.
To keep food fresh, it must be kept cold. It’s hard to find people who want to work in the cold, and a lot of prepping happens in a cold room. Next, cooks can burn things, and you may need to throw the food away. All these product details affect cost. The margins in the food business are narrow, and any waste has a huge impact. Newer dishes have a higher rate of loss, which is about 20 percent. For more established dishes we narrowed it down to 5 percent.
From there, you move on to food assembly and packaging. This usually occurs on an assembly line, and if it gets out of control the results can be disastrous. It’s very labor intensive, and machines can’t do a lot of the work. For instance, machines have trouble placing labels on irregularly shaped packages. Plus, robots are super expensive.
Use Kid Gloves With Complex Products
Once the food is packaged, you have to deliver it to stores. Some possible mistakes might be that you deliver the wrong amounts, incorrect dishes, or the food gets damaged. The key is to minimize the number of hand touches per product.
In addition, we used tech to alert us when it made sense. For instance, driver monitoring and delivery could be followed by GPS. Today, brands are even using ride-sharing services as delivery fleets.
Some factors out of your control are distance, traffic, weather, etc. There’s a ton of logistics science that goes into routing and delivery. For example, labor factors such as dealing with truck drivers can affect business as well. At the store level, mixups and accidents can happen too. Food storage and labor concerns at the store level are additional issues to take into account.
Avoid Risk With Complex Products
In the food industry, risk mitigation is the key to success, so we always try to have a Plan B. Many times we had to fall back on manual processes, and the employee base stepped up when needed. If we had to, we rolled up our sleeves and chopped carrots, packaged food or even drove delivery – whatever it took to keep the promise.
Customer retention is huge as the margins are so small. So food safety, obviously, is critical. You never want anybody to get sick from your meals.
Unify & Win
Some say a 1000 little things make up a great experience. For Snap Kitchen, team member orientation was vital to our success. When we started out, we all spent time working in the stores, kitchen and assembly line. Empathy for the operation side helped us be more holistic in our thinking which unifies the entire business.