Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Issue 2 of getting a job at KFC.

Hello world. It's been a while and now I'm back to deliver another passionate missive about the food industry as well as a thing or two about the restaurant industry.

I have no theme today, so it will be a hodgepodge of short topics. Be sure to comment if you have one and please spread the word. I know that some of you have read every post but just think of how many that haven't read one.

Visited the Boston Market at 9430 Fields Ertel Rd in Mason, OH yesterday. As a long time KFC employee, I'm disappointed to say that they not only have their act together, but they are running a better restaurant than KFC. This couldn't have been better evidenced than the $1 meal online coupon promotion they have out thru the 2nd of November. Lines formed to the door and nobody panicked...they were ready. Their hotwells were filled with hot food that looked appetizing and not all mashed to hell. Behind the employees were whole chickens roasting slowly in a series of rotisserie ovens. One cashier took every order, one person scooped sides, and one person added chicken and finished out the order. The manager kept the birds flying out of the oven and I'm sure there was one more prep person out of site, working the side dish prep in the back. It was fast, it was efficient, it was delicious. You have the choice of a quarter white meat chicken or 3 pieces of dark, one side, and cornbread.

This online coupon was a response to KFC's do-over of the failed Oprah Coupon several months back. The redo was less spectacular. This time you got one free piece of grilled chicken, which I later heard was a choice of either a leg or wing. A wing, really? Aren't you trying to win over some business, KFC? I'm sure there were some product outages all across the nation.

KFC has strayed a little bit from the things that made us such a strong growing chain in the late 90's - early 2000's. It should be all about the chicken, first of all. Focus on getting the basics right. That means more rounds of smaller batches being cooked. It means focusing on Original, Extra Crispy, Grilled, and Crispy Strips. I would cut out the new Original Strips as well as Popcorn chicken. Original Strips are a great idea, but carry over too much flavor of the trans fat free fry oil, which breaks down faster than hydrogenated shortening. So those strip will pick up the slightest bitter compunds released as the oil ages. Popcorn is popular but very labor intensive. It doesn't hold well, it fries too fast so the cook has to stop what he/she is doing and babysit it while it cooks, and it uses a lot of flour. The sides would be limited to Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Green Beans, BBQ Baked Beans, Mac n' Cheese, and Cole Slaw. Bread choices would remain as biscuits and cornbread muffins. I would also lower prices and structure the labor so that the manager is free to...manage and not be a highly paid worker. The manager needs to be free to hop station to station to help out in quick spurts, monitor quality, and check food safety. Locations with management that does this will have lower food costs and lower waste. You also empower your employees by not bailing them out every time they seem to be lagging behind.

If KFC wants anymore ideas, they can email me with a job offer and salary.

Speaking of job offers, I am still trying to get my meat hooks on a great food industry career position. One of the reasons I started this blog was to stay sharp and current with the industry. I have a degree in this field and I can do anything from R&D to Management to Sales. I know that it can take time to find the right position but I will be out of college for 2 years this December. So if any of you industry leaders that quietly read this blog need anyone good...don't pass me up.

The job ads are as frustrating as the silence that follows my application. I saw one looking for a 3rd shift production supervisor in a remote part of the state. In the requirements, they ask for 5 years of manufacturing experience. Here is how my brain works: why would someone with 5 years of experience still be on 3rd shift? Aren't you immediately disregarding fresh talent while attracting candidates for supervisor that couldn't get promoted past 3rd shift? Food companies do this all the time in job ads. I saw one for sales and they wanted 10 years of experience and a working relationship with several grocers. Are you dead serious? If I'm being interviewed for a sales job and they ask where I see myself in just 5 years, the answer sure as hell isn't going to be, 'right here in the same position'.

Part of this problem stems from a lack of a formal training program. The large entities with such a program skim graduates with 3.0 GPA's and higher. My GPA was lower, but it had nothing to do with my area of expertise. It had everything to do with what we call, 'General Education Credits'. I had a few of those classes I had to repeat, which crucified my GPA. In food science classes that pertained to my degree it was nearly all A's and B's. Unfortunately, my resume won't even get considered by many companies because of GPA.

In the last couple months, I had a president of a food company personally refer me to someone in their HR dept for a management position that he believed needed to be filled and I was also referred by a sales exec for his food company that needed to replace an outgoing sales position and got paid for his referrals. I have heard back from neither.

I have finally gotten around to checking out Ohio's Issue 2. I didn't judge, because I hadn't done any research into it. I just pulled up some info from both sides and read. The pro side of the argument advocated for livestock raising standards, traceability programs, and the general well being of our protein supply. The against side claimed a hijacking of Ohio's constitution by big business and included several food hysteric's buzzwords such as, 'Sustainability' and 'Organic' and 'Factory Farms'.

I followed the hyperbole and deducted that the food hysterics have grown even more paranoid.

The truth:
Both sides want standards set in the raising of livestock. There are some bad seeds out there that give real herdsman a bad name. Whether it's hogs, steer, dairy cattle, or sheep, 99% plus of them care for their animals and their general well being.

The HSUS are not advocates, but rather, activists. Big difference. As activists they have an emotional attachment to the animals but lack the experience and education to make decisions on their behalf. The standards you would get from the HSUS side would go beyond overkill. Many animals are social and stick close together, while HSUS standards may result in in requiring more acreage per head than the animal will ever freely use.

If issue 2 is voted down then something may or may not happen. HSUS will try to get the regulation they, as activists, feel is necessary passed into law. If they don't succeed then things will stay the same except for any programs that the producers may put through to raise standards for animal care. If HSUS is successful in passing their own legislation, you could see a mass exodus of agriculture into neighboring states where it can be more profitable.

If Issues 2 passes, will we see a massive de-regulation of agribusiness? No. It's in the farmers best interest to keep standards at a level that keeps those bad seeds in check and presents a socially responsible attitude to the consumers. I think I'll vote Yes on Issue 2, and so should you.

If you like what you read or think other will, please pass the link to this blog along in emails, facebook status', and Tweets. Thanks.

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