KFC & DHL- The importance of effective planning and problem solving James Shimmen

James Shimmen - March 2018

As widely reported in the press a couple of weeks ago KFC had a major supply issue whereby many of their stores had to close due to a lack of chicken. Although the media storm around this has died down this continues to be an issue for the fast food chain.

Most stores have now reopened however they are still not able to deliver their full menu in many places as I found out on Sunday when trying to order a quick dinner while on my way to afternoon at an indoor ski slope (I'm trying to justify my junk food purchase). My original order of a zinger tower burger was denied due to a lack of hash browns, and although they were able to provide a regular burger, as I placed my order the server was told by his manager that I would be the last burger they could serve that day as I'd got the last bun they had. As the manager informed me I'd just won the KFC lottery.

KFC and DHL supply issues

This was at approximately 3.30pm. That's an awful lot of trading hours, including the dinner time rush to not be able to serve a burger. A pretty major issue for a company for whom burgers is one of their key products...

Regardless of what industry you are in and the products or services you provide, not being able to deliver your clients what they want will have a devastating effect on your turnover, brand, and customer base. In today's society where customers are used to being able to get what they want when they want, it will drive your customers away to your competitors; as the queue around the car park at the McDonalds in the same retail park visibly attested too. And once your clients have gone elsewhere there is no guarantee they will be back. I for one will likely just turn around and head next door if I see that dreaded limited menu sign again on my way in.

So how has it gone so wrong for KFC and DHL?

The issue has been blamed on "teething problems" with KFC's new distribution partner DHL. A full mouthful of root canals maybe a more accurate description of having to close almost two thirds of your stores due to a lack of your core product.

Having read the various articles around the fiasco it seems that DHL were woefully unprepared. Conditions at DHL's distribution centre from which they are managing the operation have been described as a "shambles". Not being a specialist in food distribution its clear that DHL have failed to fully understand the task at hand and develop an effective plan to deliver the contract effectively.


Ultimately delivering any large scale operation comes down to people. You can have all the vans in the world but without the people in place with the right skills and mindset to develop the strategy and deliver it effectively, it's not going to happen.

How to get it right!

A sector where we at Getfeedback have considerable experience in helping organisations deliver effective operations is Construction. When Heathrow terminal 5 was being built airport operator BAA knew it could not afford the missed deadlines and cost overruns for which the construction industry is often criticised.

Getfeedback worked with BAA to identify the right employee skill sets for the job and the right tools to manage them effectively.

In the case of Terminal 5, Getfeedback recognised several common mindsets that would reduce the effectiveness of the build project including: rigid, autocratic leadership styles, a silo mentality, and the tendency to blame others when problems inevitably arise. Getfeedback's evaluation tools enabled BAA to find suitable employees who excel in a more innovative environment.

Terminal 5 BAA identifying the right employee skill sets for the job and the right tools to manage them effectively

Getfeedback were also instrumental in helping Costain to develop their leading Project Management Academy. Costain understood that at the head of delivering quality projects are the Project Managers. In construction and civil engineering projects, most of which last for a number of years, it is the ability of the Project Manager to get the best from a complex web of stakeholders, including Planners, Designers, Engineers and Clients, that can make the single biggest difference to project success or failure.

Costain developing their leading Project Management Academy

Our experience with working with these organisations has shown us that having the right people and helping them to develop the right skills has helped them to ensure that they are able to effectively plan a deliver strategies to meet their clients needs, and not only that but provide them with the skills and tools they need to adapt to changing circumstances and handle problems effectively and efficiently.

Hopefully DHL and KFC can get over their teething problems and get their restaurants back to a full menu and I can finally get my burger with the hash brown it's desperately needs! But for other organisations this should serve as a cautionary tale that before embarking on any new project or working with any new client, ensuring that you are prepared with the right, people, tools, and processes to deliver the job will make the difference between happy customers or them joining the queue for your competitor next door.

If you'd be interesting in finding out how Getfeedback could help your organisation ensure its people are equipped to deliver your operations or just find out more about us then email us at info@getfeedback.net or call us on 01491 845 536.