There are business lessons for everyone in fried chicken.
When you think of Kentucky Fried Chicken, you think exactly that – fried chicken. But with over 39 000 stores in 125 territories around the world, they’re doing something very right that goes beyond a popular product offering. So what can you learn from KFC that you can take into your own business?
Lesson 1: The importance of product quality
Customers want assurance that no matter when, where or how they buy your product that it’s going to be the best quality and the same, if not better than their previous experience.
Making this happen starts with suppliers. Despite KFC having over 39 000 stores around the world, there are only two factories that make the unique blend of herbs and spices that coat KFC chicken. This isn’t just a matter of keeping the blend of herbs and spices a trade secret, but a matter of consistency:
No matter where you are – your chicken will taste the same. Then there’s the chicken. KFC South Africa uses A-grade chicken from local Rainbow Farms and Supreme Poultry. This ensures the meat products are of a high standard and supply is consistent.
Lesson 2: Consistency is achieved through training
It’s one thing ensuring that your raw materials are of a consistent quality, but if storage, preparation, assembly or delivery aren’t handled correctly, your quality chain is broken.
You wouldn’t think there’s much art in breading chicken and frying it, but it turns out there’s a lot of training needed to ensure that the finished product is to company and customer levels of expectation.
If staff are properly trained to understand the importance of consistency and quality, your consumer experience will be positive and likely to result in repeat sales.
Lesson 3: Systems are essential for high standards
One of the reasons brands like KFC reach the popularity they do (both for consumers and for franchisees) is because everyone involved always knows what to expect. This boils down to systems.
When everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, how they’re supposed to do it, and how long it will take for completion, everyone’s expectations are met and the opportunity to exceed expectation is created.
At KFC every single process is carefully systematised, for example, deliveries are made several times a week allowing business owners to ensure that stock is always fresh and wastage is minimised. Sophisticated systems also ensure that the right products are prepared at the right time so that customers don’t have to wait around for their order.
Lesson 4: When it’s measured it can be managed
While there are pervasive myths about fast food joints having food lying around for ages waiting to be purchased, KFC is rigorous in its food and kitchen hygiene standards.
For example, a strict cleaning and sanitation programme for food contact surfaces keeps everything hygienic, staff are required to wash and sanitise their hands every 30 minutes, and food is kept at 60 degrees for a limited time only before being discarded in the event it’s not sold in the allowed time.
This may seem like overkill, but it only takes one bad experience to lose a customer for life. By ensuring systems are put in place and adhered to, a good customer experience is secured.
Lesson 5: Continuous assessment is key
It’s a well-known fact that when staff know the boss is coming around they put their best foot forward. So how do you ensure that standards are kept consistently high? KFC uses mystery shoppers and unannounced audits to keep everyone on their toes.
Every single store is audited five times a year at random, and a mystery shopper visits a store 26 times a year to review service and product delivery.