Thar Be Gigs In Them Economies

It’s time to #workpost! Is that a thing? It is now!

Jokes aside, there have, naturally, been some changes at work. It’s a new month! This is retail! We have to constantly be changing things because reasons!

September means that it’s fall, so we have pumpkin coffee, cappuccino, and donuts at the store I work at. It’s apparently the 21st anniversary of the company serving breakfast pizza, so we have a new, different breakfast pizza with beer cheese sauce (instead of the normal cheddar or sausage gravy). As far as other new breakfast developments, we have a new bacon biscuit sandwich, which I didn’t know about until the day of.

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It has been frustrating recently (well, maybe the last year or so at least) that sometimes the company isn’t great about communication. I don’t know if it’s the fault of a specific person (like Joe Blow, the Prepared Food Category Manager, or maybe his assistant or some secretary or something), or if it’s an entire team of people dropping the ball, but there have been several occasions I can think of in the last year or so where people at the corporate HQ are bad about communicating with the stores. For example, this new bacon and cheese biscuit sandwich, rather than sending an email about it 2 weeks in advance like they did for the pizza, I’m not sure they sent any emails about it until the day of. For the new pizza varieties, they’re usually good about putting the word out with sufficient time that they can ship the necessary ingredients, and we can have a couple weeks for training before we start officially selling the new pizza (most recently, BBQ brisket or the aforementioned beer cheese ultimate breakfast pizza). By contrast, when they changed the donut case guidelines at the beginning of August they didn’t seem to communicate it very well, and there’s been at least once where I’ve seen that they sent out further explanation. Now I don’t remember what the further explanation was, or what my problem with the initial explanation was, but I felt like they should have been clearer to begin with.

I also think it’s funny that for the new bacon biscuit breakfast sandwich, the message about it said something about how it was a gap in our menu that our competitors had, so it was felt that we needed to fill that gap and offer our guests more choice, which seemed funny because yes, biscuits and bacon are things that we have, but why did they not send out any information about this new sandwich until the day of? Why did they decide to introduce a new sandwich, not tell anyone about it, and then decide it’s acceptable to not have labels? Sure, we’ve been having trouble getting labels, for whatever reason (manufacturing issues, supply issues, who knows), but usually when we get a new item we have labels to stick on the appropriate packaging, not being told that we’ll get labels when they’re available.

I don’t work at the corporate HQ, but if it were me, it might not be a bad idea to check in with, rather than just the division presidents and regional presidents and district managers, check in with store managers and maybe even the kitchen managers- something like “hey, we’re thinking about this, do you understand what this means? What does this sound like to you?” Then, depending on the feedback, you can either send out “oh, whoa, that’s not what we meant at all” or “Yes! Great, thanks for the feedback!”

And, if you’re feeling really generous, you can write something in the relevant email like “after some extremely helpful feedback from the field, this is the wording we’re going with:” to try to minimize, if not eliminate any confusion, instead of being confused when you failed to send out directions until after the fact.

Another recent frustration is that, for whatever reason, we got new muffins, so our old blueberry and banana nut muffins were discontinued. The blueberry muffins went on sale for buy one get one free for the last couple weeks of July, if I remember correctly. When July ended, we still had blueberry muffins left, and we did eventually get rid of them, even if it was later than we were “supposed to” have disposed of them. At the same time that we were told to donate or dispose of the blueberry muffins, we were told to sell through our banana nut muffins.

Well, at my store, we didn’t sell many banana nut muffins. I had wondered if the beginning of September would mean that the banana nut muffins would be discontinued, and sure enough, according to the register on September 1 they were locked for sale (even though the production planner still has a line for them, so theoretically we could still be making them… but I don’t understand that logic). As a result, on September 1 I went ahead and made most of the banana nut muffins we had left, and after checking with the local nutrition site, I took half a dozen to a friends’ when we were playing D&D, I took 2 dozen muffins to the local nutrition site for breakfast the next day, and I left 9 muffins out for people to take home or whatever happened to them. Our new muffins are blueberry crumb and double chocolate chip, and, funny enough, they’re 20 cents more expensive than our old muffins. I wonder why? It seems to me that the double chocolate muffins are more popular than the blueberry crumb, and I haven’t tried the double chocolate chip muffins, but the muffins suddenly being 20 cents more expensive is suspicious, to me. I have no idea what the cost difference is between our new muffins and the old muffins.

As for the title of this post, we were supposed to start offering DoorDash from my store today, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we had one order today and it wound up being canceled. Tuesdays are usually slower, and this afternoon we got a DoorDash order for a small BBQ brisket pizza, a 2 liter bottle of 7-UP, a brownie, some Advil, and some Benadryl. After making the pizza I looked around and we had everything except the 24 pack of Advil, so I followed the directions to call DoorDash, talked to a customer service representative with a thick East Asian accent, she tried contacting the customer and had me on hold for a bit, and then said she had tried contacting the customer and received no response so she was going to cancel the order. Sure enough, the canceled ticket printed out near the end of the phone call and I had wondered if the person might try ordering again, but she never did.

As far as work-related frustrations, we usually don’t get many online orders that include drinks, so I don’t usually pay much attention to our inventory of drinks, but every once in a while we get that frustrating order for bottled iced coffee or some energy drink or a soda or some other drink that we don’t have, so then I have to figure out a substitution and try to let the customer know. Most of the household goods are similar- despite their being available to order online for maybe a couple years now (I don’t remember when it was added, but I feel like it might have been circa spring 2020), I have yet to see any (other?) online orders where someone wants Benadryl or Advil or Tylenol or anything like that. I know I’ve seen a couple orders where someone wanted a loaf of bread, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone order a can of soup or a package of ramen or a package of paper plates or package of plastic cups or anything like that.

If the powers that be want to make things more convenient for guests, maybe they ought to make it easier for employees?

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