This past weekend I visited Edisto Beach in South Carolina. (If you’ve never been, it’s lovely and relatively quiet.)
After hitting the driving range just off the main drag on Saturday afternoon I stopped in at the local Piggly Wiggly, the only real grocery store in the area. While I intended to pick up some food for the evening at the rental cottage I saw the deli offered sub sandwiches.
I apologize for the blurry cell phone picture (my device has now been upgraded, thank goodness) but I ordered the Hog Wild, which consists of roast beef, turkey, and ham. With the sandwiches the sign says you get to then choose the bread (wheat, multigrain, or white), cheese (provolone, swiss, or cheddar), and other toppings (veggies, mayo/mustard, oils, etc).
I told the sandwich maker that I wanted a Hog Wild on multigrain bread, but she indicated they were out of everything but wheat. I know Piggly Wiggly makes bread that they place out on the deli bread racks, so I was a little surprised they didn’t have anything but wheat available for the sandwich shop at this point. As long as the bread wasn’t white, I was happy. She walked from the front of the deli counter to the back room, where they apparently store the bread.
She came back out to the meat and toppings station and asked what toppings I wanted – mayo, lettuce, tomato, green peppers, and pickles was my response.
As she pressed these toppings onto the sandwich and closed it up, I asked if she had put cheese on the sandwich because I’d like to have it with provolone. I was alerted because she didn’t ask what cheese I wanted. She said she already put swiss on the sandwich – the Hog Wild comes with swiss.
Two things about this – first, I wouldn’t much care whether the cheese was provolone or cheddar, but I really dislike swiss. I’m not overly concerned with toppings or bread, but I won’t eat a sandwich if it has swiss. My “customer requirement” is that the sandwich can’t have swiss, but everything else is negotiable.
Second, the sign indicates that I get to choose my cheese. I wasn’t asked by the sandwich maker, then was told that the Hog Wild comes with swiss. Why doesn’t the sign indicate this? Had I known my sandwich choice came with swiss, I would have either ordered something else or simply asked to substitute the cheese.
As a result of the sandwich having swiss, the sandwich maker had to unpress the sandwich and pull the swiss off (excess motion caused by defect), dispose of the swiss (scrap good but unwanted product), apply provolone (more excess motion caused by defect), repress sandwich (more excess motion), wrap, cut, and hand to me.
What can be done with this process so defects are less likely to occur and waste activities are reduced?
First, the sign should accurately portray what the customer should expect – if the Hog Wild sandwich comes with swiss, say so. Make it clear what these specialized items are so there are no surprises.
Next, this deli is no Subway. One of the many things Subway does well is having ingredients not only right where the “sandwich artists” are using them but they and the production is in plain view of the customer. Maybe the Piggly Wiggly has space constraints, but the sandwich maker has her back to the customer and we can’t see the ingredients from so far away.
Also, the bread is stored at Subway out front in ovens, while at this deli the bread was in the back. That’s a lot of walking for each customer.
Little tweaks like product placement and sign explanations can reduce wasteful activities. A little time (two minutes) and a little raw material (swiss) was wasted just on my order. Imagine how often this happens on other orders.