The reason for this is straight-lined, Rothgery says. “The changes come from a focus on improving guest experience,” she says.
The initiative was in development “for quite a while” before Rothgery assumed the reins, but she brought it home. And as Rothgery noted before, operators, understandably, recognized the move for what it was—a disruptive force they needed to adapt to. “This is so much behavior change and mindset change,” she says. “Change management is always the biggest hurdle. But once people believe and they can see the benefits then [I ask] do you want to go back?”
From Baltimore to California to Texas, Rothgery says, the answer has always been no.
My-Oahn Flowers, the general manager, or RGM (restaurant general manager) as KFC calls them, of the brand’s flagship Louisville store—one of only four in its 4,050-unit U.S. fleet—says “Scoop to Order” actually saved labor and improved productivity, despite what outside observers might think.
The reason being it took a preparation job that, admittedly, few relished, and reimagined it as something more valuable. Previously, an employee would show up early and prep those countless sides, methodically filling up containers. It was pain staking and unsatisfying work, and it wasn’t guest facing or dynamic. Also, KFC couldn't portion control its product like it can now.
“It’s great,” Flowers says of the change. “It’s a hotter product. It’s more fresh.” She guessed it takes “5 and half seconds” to scoop mashed potatoes.
Rothgery echoes Flowers’ point. “The pride has been worth it,” she says. “The operators are super proud of this product.”
Having an employee assist their co-workers during busy times, serving meals, instead of standing in the walk-in scooping coleslaw each morning, boosted morale, Rothgery says. “It’s more fun at peak,” she says. “If you’re part of it as opposed to being in the freezer—they like the team essence of it.”
The move didn’t alter staffing levels. It also didn’t sag speed of service to any significant level, Rothgery says. As you would imagine, it lowers early but then picks up in efficiency over time. “They get better,” she says. “We’re seeing they actually get back to where they were before, or improve even.”
Additionally, “Scoop to Order” opened the product innovation window for KFC. On August 26, the chain plans to launch Mac & Cheese Bowls—its first addition to the $5 Fill Up Line in about a year—nationwide. The new setup naturally flows into this kind of creation, especially in regards to customization.
For instance, if a customer really wanted to put mac and cheese on a sandwich, this “Scoop to Order” process allows it. KFC can tweak SKUs and rethink menu ideation without some of the bottleneck concerns and limitations it had previously, when sides were prepacked in containers and ready for deployment as is.