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Slowing sales at QSR:Will anybody look at the Quality angle?

 
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ameya
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Joined: 09 May 2007
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Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 4:38 pm    Post subject: Slowing sales at QSR:Will anybody look at the Quality angle? Reply with quote

Completely unrelated but of my interest

Slowing sales at QSR:Will anybody look at the Quality angle?

Last year I had written about how I am bored of the same menu at Barbeque Nation. “Why I don’t like Barbeque Nation anymore? It invited many comments including one from a friend who said “I agree with this and in as many words”.

Last few months have seen leading publications in India, talk about the growing QSR (Quick Service Restaurants) segment and the entry of global chains like Taco Bell and Burger King.

At the same time, the articles are focusing on shrinking same store sales – a popular performance metric for the industry and how this is a cause of worry for the industry. While the blame typically goes on healthy eating, high inflation & margin pressures leading to decrease in items sold at lower costs (entry level items) & increase in costs, very little is being said and discussed about declining quality in food and drop in customer experience – which has led to customers shying away from QSR.

Sample this – a year ago I made a call to one of the stores of market leader in home delivery – Domino’s. A few pizzas and white pasta veg was my order. The lady at the other end repeated – “Red Pasta non veg” as if we were playing a game of opposites! Since then I have only placed orders on-line.Thankfully the website is user friendly and gives multiple informative updates, including when the delivery staff has left the store.

The case was not so simple in case of McDonalds. A particular store had such poorly trained staff – completely clueless about what was happening in the store. This led to long wait times post billing, unhygienic stores and most of the times half order being handed over and the rest being served on table. I registered a formal complaint with their regional HQ in Mumbai. They offered me a voucher which I did not use, since I did not feel like going to the store again.

I then ordered home delivery from the same store once, and mind you, one has to call their Mumbai number for this and they do not mention this in their advertisement making people believe they are calling a local number, the home delivery came after 50 minutes and had only half the order! I fail to understand why basic checks like matching the bill to contents in the bag was never done!

I again gave a piece of my mind but after seeing this happen regularly from one particular store – completely stopped going there and then slowly stopped visiting McDonalds. This is not the experience I want.

Third case is even more interesting that of Subway. They have a cruel way of joking, of asking you which bread would you want and later – “sorry sir, only hearty italian is available today“. Fine! Then why did you ask me for choice!

Subway has so much inconsistency that the same person preparing two subs at the same time can make it taste differently.

Not surprising that the three chains I quoted above are struggling to increase foothold in Indian market and at times registering negative growth in same store sales.



Two years ago I had written to Cafe Coffee Day – about how Cafe Frappe tastes differently at different stores and at times at the same store at different times of the day. I had received a call followed by en email detailing out how this point was discussed and sharing their long- term plan of improving supply chains and having food stuffs prepared centrally and training plan for having same taste for coffee. Today they have measures and charts at every store to ensure that the contents are same and in desired quantity and nothing is to be left to the employee to decide on how much of what goes into the coffee.

With applications like Zomato and Tripadvisor being downloaded on more and more smart phones and giving a very fair and user driven information, patrons are even more careful in choosing where to eat and visit. Students – who traditionally formed a cost sensitive segment and were driving numbers at QSR, now have enough exposure to look at quality and service and not just cost.

With menu same across stores at QSR, people rate a particular store based on experience and not food, unlike a Fine Dine restaurant where the review will be more about a particular dish and menu. People are already there for something they want to eat unlike a fine dine restaurant where they go and then explore.

A quick search on Zomato shows how the variation is in terms of ranking for subway in Pune – it varies from 2.3 to 3.8. Yet none of it is in top 50 or 100. For McDonalds it is similar 2.3 to 3.7 and for KFC – none of the stores go beyond 3.3, all of which is out of 5. The highest restaurant in Pune, incidentally is not a Fine Dine restaurant and is rated 4.9 of 5.

With experience levels going down, its time QSR look at social media analytics and have greater focus on customer touch points along with providing better training to their staff at call centre to improve on service,. While inflation, higher cost of living and margin pressures will drive away customers and are realistic reasons, the declining quality and sliding customer experience ratings and its impact on growth cannot be ignored.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sir, thank you for a thought-provoking article! You have captured some extremely important points in your analysis. I wish I could analyse issues as well as you do, and express my thoughts in your own witty and well-laid manner!
Delhi (and the NCR) is a bit different as compared to Pune. Here, the fast food joints with their call-in service is much better. The Wife often patronises these - especially when both of us are too lazy to grace the kitchen. The other point is, that Delhi'ites love to eat out - a trend that has been there since the days or yore. The `eating out at home' concept has been around for quite a while, and also gained more momentum after the QSR concept came into vogue (I didn't know what QSR stood for, before your post!). Local restaurants do not invest much into advertising, but satisfied clients are told by word of mouth, that they do free home deliveries within a radius of x kilometres. The other interesting trend in Delhi is that of home-type food, cooked in an ostensibly small amount of oil and spices. The next time you visit Delhi, do give me some prior intimation - I have been wanting to meet you and Mrs. Joshi, and treat you to some of this cuisine in Delhi Smile
Your point about student preferences is a good indicator: since I see much of it all around me. Variation in tastes is something only a super foodie like you can: I really wish I could make such conclusions. I guess Air India's on-an-average excellent standardisation across offerings also has a role to play, in most of my travels, where I talk about food.
The professionalism shown by CCD is commendable: more so, in light of the onslaught of multinational brands across the country. before I read about it in your article, I would not have noticed it. CCD's cost structure targets the affluent and the upper middle class: something I do not like that much, though their offerings are good,and hit the taste quotient well. My personal preference for coffee remains a trip to the closest Udupi-style joint, and picking up a good Kodagu filter coffee/Madras-style metre coffee - in Delhi, often for the same price or a bit less, in a steel tumbler with the small bowl around it. CCD's `hep' crowd likes more Continental and American options, as opposed to the traditional kApI.
Thanks once again for a thought-provoking (and of course, hunger-provoking) article!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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ameya
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Joined: 09 May 2007
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Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Sir, thank you for a thought-provoking article! You have captured some extremely important points in your analysis. I wish I could analyse issues as well as you do, and express my thoughts in your own witty and well-laid manner!

Thank you sir for the kind words as always.

sumantra wrote:

Delhi (and the NCR) is a bit different as compared to Pune. Here, the fast food joints with their call-in service is much better.

True. For Eg: McDonalds has a different franchise for West & South as one zone and North and East as another and I have seen the N&E being ay better in terms of service.

sumantra wrote:

The Wife often patronises these - especially when both of us are too lazy to grace the kitchen. The other point is, that Delhi'ites love to eat out - a trend that has been there since the days or yore. The `eating out at home' concept has been around for quite a while, and also gained more momentum after the QSR concept came into vogue (I didn't know what QSR stood for, before your post!). Local restaurants do not invest much into advertising, but satisfied clients are told by word of mouth, that they do free home deliveries within a radius of x kilometres. The other interesting trend in Delhi is that of home-type food, cooked in an ostensibly small amount of oil and spices. The next time you visit Delhi, do give me some prior intimation - I have been wanting to meet you and Mrs. Joshi, and treat you to some of this cuisine in Delhi Smile

I am always looking forward to a delhi trip - this time i ll with more enthusiasm.

sumantra wrote:

Thanks once again for a thought-provoking (and of course, hunger-provoking) article!
Cheers, Sumantra.


Welcome as always !
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The_Goat
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think the problem is with the QSR chains as much as it is with the people they recruit to run their joints.

There seems to be a very disturbing trend to hire only the dumbest people everywhere nowadays. And it is not just with restaurants.

And these dumbasses become managers over time and end up hiring more of their ilk, leading to a vicious circle. A smart person tends to bring out the deep seated insecurities in the dumb hiring manager, ensuring that such a person will never be hired.

Over here in the West, the McDs and Subways mostly hire students on a part time basis. Some of them are smart, most are average but a few are dumb. They show the same bewildering variety that one sees in the classroom.

So the quality depends pretty much on what kind of part time student is sitting behind the counter. I don't know how it works in India, as it is less likely that it is students who are recruited there.
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ssbmat
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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Totally agree - there is this upsurge of mediocrity in every aspect of public life.

People cannot even pronounce names anymore !

My grandmother was hospitalized a few months ago (she unfortunately passed away) at this very prominent hospital in Pune- the attendant staff was repeatedly mis-pronouncing her name from the actual "Shobhana" to "Sobana" to "Shabana" - I was totally pissed off. And this is but a relatively minor example.
And whatever counts for quality for us seems to be an utterly trivial matter for the staff. Lack of punctuality, lack of transparency and lack of initiative. These are so common.
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avbuff
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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ssbmat wrote:
Totally agree - there is this upsurge of mediocrity in every aspect of public life.

People cannot even pronounce names anymore !

My grandmother was hospitalized a few months ago (she unfortunately passed away) at this very prominent hospital in Pune- the attendant staff was repeatedly mis-pronouncing her name from the actual "Shobhana" to "Sobana" to "Shabana" - I was totally pissed off. And this is but a relatively minor example.
And whatever counts for quality for us seems to be an utterly trivial matter for the staff. Lack of punctuality, lack of transparency and lack of initiative. These are so common.


I hope that was not Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital.

My sister had 4 surgeries of which 3 were laser treatments and I was very impressed by the staff there. The hospital doesn't look like your ER types but hygiene standards are pretty well. The staff are good too. We dealt with them extensively for 2 years.

Having said I agree with ameya. The store at JM Road is a dump, the kothrud one being a little better. Though I must say, Dominos offered me a consistent above average experience. Taste wise there is absolutely no consistency in CCD. Koregaon park vs Tilak road ... too much difference. But then even Chitale Bandhu bakarwadi tastes vary. The sell the fresh ones at Bajirao Road and left overs at other outlets! Very Happy

Off lately I'd rather take something interesting from the restaurants in my vicinity rather than go on a self inflicting torture spree to these places.

P.S Sorry to hear about Aji. They are one breed of humans placed in the family to just love you endlessly unconditionally.
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flightgearpilot
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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My life slogan these days is "Never underestimate stupidity." Whenever I feel that things have gone rock bottom and it can not get more stupider than this, I'm always surprised by how much more things can get worse.

We have this incredible knack of "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory"!
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