In the early days of the pandemic, operating a quick-service restaurant was arguably as hard as it had ever been. The labor crunch meant chefs and operators were busier than ever before. Add into the mix challenges stemming from the logistical complications of COVID restrictions—like having to pivot to a larger portion of off-premises sales—and it’s safe to say that not many operators had a ton of extra time on their hands.
Lamb Weston, a leading potato and french fry producer founded in 1950, identified these issues and began to wonder how it could help make an operator’s life a bit easier. The company zeroed in on the fry-selection process: was there a way to simplify it?
"We spent a lot of time thinking more about the operator's day-to-day and back-of-house challenges," says Kim Hoffman, product marketing director, portfolio management at Lamb Weston. “We wanted to keep in mind they lead crazy lives and are not necessarily fry experts. We wanted the fry-selection process to be more about the quality attributes of each product, and about the value that fries add to a menu—how the right fry can make restaurants more profitable.”
Lamb Weston involved every department in its company to come up with a way to simplify the fry-selection process. Ultimately, that led to both the reorganization and enhancement of the vendor’s product portfolio—a campaign playfully dubbed “Simplifry.” The following slides outline what the modifications mean for restaurant operators—and how it’s made their lives easier.
In order to simplify the fry-selection process, Lamb Weston began to look at how to best reorganize its portfolio in order to make it easier to navigate. Lamb Weston created four intuitive categories: classic fries, extra crispy fries, sweet potatoes, and other products.
The company renamed products in order to match the way an operator would talk about it. It added tags it refers to as “benefit icons” to help easily identify each fry’s selling points. In other words, if an operator knew they wanted a fry that would stay crispy for 30 minutes, they could easily search the portfolio for products that would meet that need.
“We’ve gotten a lot of really positive feedback about the portfolio enhancements,” Hoffman says. “These changes have made the entire portfolio easier to navigate—they visually articulate each product’s features and its benefits from an operator's perspective. As a result, that makes it easier for operators to find and select products based on their unique operational needs or challenges.”
Find My Fry
Lamb Weston went a step beyond enhancing its portfolio, too—the company recently launched a “Find My Fry” quiz. Operators can take the brief survey to match them up with the SKU that best fits their needs. While something of a fun and lighthearted exercise, the Find My Fry quiz generates results rooted in Lamb Weston’s extensive industry knowledge based on market research and decades of experience.
“The quiz seeks to find out if an operator needs something that stays crispy for longer, or if they’re serving it in-house,” Hoffman says. “Maybe they need something that holds for 30 minutes or longer, or maybe they want them pre-seasoned because they have less back-of-house labor, or time. It navigates you through four or five questions like that and then it gives you a result that directs you back to Lamb Weston's website with references to tools and tips. It’s fun and interactive.”
Need Something Crispy?
Operators who take the “Find My Fry” quiz or explore the Lamb Weston website will notice that “crispy fries” now have their own category. That’s a distinct post-pandemic trend—demand for crispy fries has skyrocketed alongside an increase in off-premises ordering.
Lamb Weston has a dedicated batter blending facility, which allows it to control exactly what goes into each fry’s coating and how it is blended. The batters are then coated onto various fry cuts—creating long hold times and a fry that is as crispy and delicious eaten at home as it would be on the plate at a restaurant.
“We blend our batters using starches that come off of the potato naturally,” Hoffman says. “Many customers look to Lamb Weston as the crispy experts.”
In many ways, Lamb Weston’s reputation precedes itself. The company has worked with many of the largest quick-service restaurant brands since the 1950s—Lamb Weston is over 70 years old. The company has always prided itself on making sure restaurants have the fries that will add the most value to their menu—in this way, the “Simplifry” campaign is just another way Lamb Weston continues to put the operator first.
“We’ve been really successful for a very long time because we take the time to actually listen to our operators,” Hoffman says. “We have that humble nature as a company. We are constantly thinking about what consumers want, what an operator’s needs are, and how we can pivot our approach to make them the center of everything we do.”
For more on finding the perfect fry, visit the Lamb Weston website.