Starbucks is reacting to the economy not tolerating $6 coffee and introducing "value meals" to compete with McDonald's McCoffee concept. They've been waffling a little, and it has not been announced what the price point or the components of this deal will be. On a side note, Long Island Jenni told an anecdote of someone she met who owns 17 McDonalds franchises in and around NYC. It seems he has not added the McCoffee concept to his stores because a) he feels that people don't go to McD's for coffee and b) it costs him $100g per store to install the elements necessary to sell the coffee.
The dining section of Wednesday's Times was pored over. An interesting article about the 'Biggest Loser' TV show tells how they show the contestants working out and going crazy but never eating -- in reality, they're are put on unsustainable and unhealthy crash diets to achieve to most dramatic effect for TV, but when the show is over, they are left to figure out food for themselves and most fail and gain weight -- this entertainment that banishes food serves to make food into pornography, as I noted in class about this article from Restaurant News. It seems the Heart Attack Grill in Arizona dresses up waitresses as 'sexy nurses', serves up 'quadruple bypass' 2lb burgers and fries cooked in lard, and if you finish that burger you are escorted out of the restaurant in a wheel chair. Oy. People say they want healthy and yet places like this thrive.
Finally, a few weeks ago we mentioned a toilet that was shot at a Carl's Jr in Utah. Well now it seems the restaurateurs are milking it for all it's worth and holding a funeral for said toilet. God bless America.
Then we got to ServSafe. ServSafe is a national exam on food safety and preparation given by the NRA (that's the National Restaurant Association, silly!) It's certification is generally recognized nationally, but it is up to local authorities to require it. In NYC, the city Department of Health wants dat money and requires it's own Food Safety Handler Certificate. NYC's guidelines are not that different than ServSafe, it's all politics. I already have the city certificate by doing a ridiculously easy program on line and a multiple choice test at a dirty city office.
I won't go into detail about ServSafe on this blog. Today we watched an introductory video with some incredibly unconvincing acting about the basics - food can be adulterated by three groups
- Physical - glass, debris, wedding ring
- Chemical - cleaning fluid, soap, perfume
- Bacterial - fungi, viruses, organisms
Richard passed out a number of student business plans for the class to look at -- this will be our final project. We have our mission statements and concepts, and a few menu items to start, but the business plan is the packet that will be the main tool to pry the big bucks from investors. Some were very professional, but I took some pleasure in pulling out the crappiest ones. They literally looked like they were made by 4th graders, with a page of clippings of uniforms from a restaurant supply store, with the line, "We will have uniforms like these because uniforms are important in creating the image of a restaurant." Wow. This guy must of spent his youth growing up behind the counter of a KFC.
At the end of class, Richard ripped through some basic concepts of service marketing.Basically, the client tells you everything you need to know about your business, from what you sell, how you sell it, where you are, the color of your walls, the finishes on your plating, who you hire and fire, when you go to the bathroom, etc. Of course, they may lie (I want you to be a 100% vegan organic raw burger joint, but I ain't gonna tell you about how I'm lovin' McD's on the sly) or don't want to talk to you. Simply, the client determines product and services, and it is up to your communications to both interpret and reflect that back in a profitable way.
Richard sketched out a brief history of marketing in 4 phases.
- Originally, it was all 'pull'. Business was product centered. We do this, and if you don't like this, well, go somewhere else, we're not for you.
- As competition increased in a more communications-heavy world, a 'push' strategy emerged. "Hello! We got this here! Come in!" The illegal vendors selling yo-yos in the subway is pure push strategy.
- Third, the push was taken to the extreme with the 'promotional' strategy, which looks to influence the behavior of the client. "Don't think you need our thing? Well, we have a 2 for 1 sale for our thing!" My dad was old school, and fell for coupons for shit he didn't need at a heartbeat.
- Finally, the 'marketing' strategy -- determining the needs and wants of the client, and meeting them. The umbrella dudes who pop up out of the concrete the second it starts raining and mysteriously disappear when it stops is purely driving by marketing strategy. "We're a whore for your money! I don't care what I do, tell me what to do!"