Aug 13, 2006

Consumers Are A Fickle Bunch

It occurred to me that when my uncle in Wisconsin dies (and he is 81 and in poor health), I will be the oldest living Sneed. Wait! That's not true, because the lovely Mrs. Sneed (even though she is a Sneed by marriage) is a couple of months older than me. Whew! The Krispy Kreme stores in Arizona and New Mexico closed this week. The franchisee who owned them filed for bankruptcy. The employees on duty when the hammer fell, were told to punch out and get out. They are left with no job, no pay and no idea about what went wrong. It is a shame because Krispy Kreme actually pays pretty well for a retail carryout food joint. It was the end of an era, albeit a short one. We consumers are a fickle bunch. Someone convinces someone that Krispy Kreme is what you want in a doughnut and the rush is on. At Krispy Kreme headquarters, the big cheese gets the idea to take a regional sensation and make it a national one by opening stores everywhere. Flush with success, the big cheese next decides that no grocery store is complete without a selection of prepackaged Krispy Kremes. A mysterious delight has become like our Uncle Vern, living in the spare room, too familiar and always there. There is an old saying, "Familiarity breeds contempt." Once we could have a Krispy Kreme at our whim, they lost their allure. While we once convinced ourselves that Kripy Kremes were the Mercedes of doughnuts, now we see that doughnuts are just doughnuts, more or less. To make matters worse, those pesky Science in the Public Interest folks ramped up their campaign to keep us from eating tasty food. Business at the Krispy Kreme fell way off and you know the rest of the story. Consumers are a fickle bunch. I do a lot of complaining and moaning about my job. I have been doing it for 37 plus years (both the job and the complaining), so it is sometimes hard to remain enthusiastic, or even interested. I do try to stay focused when it comes to customer service. People are trying to earn a living and don't need me mucking up the works. There is nothing that makes a customer madder than to be treated badly, except perhaps to be made to feel unimportant. I always try to give my customers what they are paying for and a little more when I can. This morning the Sneedlet and I went to the bagel store. We used to have a number of bagel shops in our fair city until this chain over ran everyone else. Not only are they the 900-pound gorilla, they are the only gorilla left. I think it shows. When we got ready to pay, I asked for a large regular coffee. The youngster at the register got a cup and went to fill it. She turned to me and said, "We just ran out of regular coffee." She offered French Roast or Hazelnut. I chose French Roast. She turned to fill the cup and again, "We just ran out of that too." I bought Hazelnut. A nice touch would have been to give me the Hazelnut for free, as a gesture. But the kid is not empowered or trained to do that. Correct me if I am wrong here, but I believe that breakfast is the cash crop for the bagel business. If the staff can't keep products available then, business is bound to suffer. What, I wonder, is if they just ran out why wasn't anyone making more? And how did they just run out if no one was ahead of me to pay? The kid was standing at the register waiting for me. My guess is that the owner hammers the staff to curb costs and doesn't give them any latitude or training around customer service. Coffee is probably the most profitable item in a restaurant and having none to sell is inexcusable. Poor service is a function of poor management. My guess is that the business model for this bagel chain boils down to this. Customers come in, we sell them bagels, we get them to leave. That works only so long as the customer continue to come in. Having items for sale is key to keeping them coming. I am a fickle consumer and given the right circumstances I might move on. Things in this blog represented to be fact, may or may not actually be true. The writer is frequently wrong and sometimes just full of it. Tag:


Kurt said...

I found Krispy Kremes to be heavy on the sugar glaze and light on the doughnut. Even the chocolate glazed had the sugar glaze on it too. Ew.

The Frugal Vegetarian said...

There was definitely hype there for a while. Personally, I grew up on Dunkin' Donuts. No one could convince me that KK was better. But, scratch that, I have since turned vegan and can't eat donuts anyways. We are a fickle bunch!