Sofritas, Quesadillas, and...Your Business.
A few years ago, Chipotle was in dire straits. It was losing in the market that it helped create - quick service dining. In 2016, it had to deal with an E. Coli outbreak which scared consumers away. Other quick dining options were cropping up, crowding the space. Plus, some research suggested that millennials were beginning to spend less on eating out and millennials made up a significant portion of their target consumer. In sum, things were not boding well for the dining giant.
In walks in Brian Niccol, best known as the man behind Taco Bell’s resurgence and for Doritos Locos tacos.
The response was initially not entirely enthusiastic. The move to bring in Niccol signaled that Chipotle was going to go against their own core values in order to earn back consumers and make money; they were poised to hold their noses and sell out.
Alas, it was a great move.
Chipotle recovered quite well and has done so without being something it is not. Niccol has doubled down on freshness and on finding ways to control quality, pioneering special health services for employees to ensure that they do not work if they aren’t well to reduce the risk of spreading illness.
They’ve opened up drive-throughs and found ways to digitize and simplify their prep process to more efficiently make orders and to add more menu items. They’ve added delivery, to help them enter the take-out sphere.
All of these moves have poised Niccols to expand the menu and to add a Tex Mex favorite: quesadillas. As of yet, Chipotle has not traditionally offered this staple because it would have slowed down service. Niccols has essentially made all of the changes necessary to include the item, but right now is waiting.
Why? According to Niccols, their top-selling protein is chicken. However, Chipotle has long offered sofritas, barbacoa, and carnitas. While Spanish speaking or otherwise well-versed Tex Mex eaters are familiar with these words, Niccols feels the typical consumer might not be.
In order to cash in on some products they already have long carried and accounted for, Niccols wants to roll out menu items that focus on those items without reinventing the wheel to build consumer awareness of their existing food choices.
Moving quesadillas out of their secret menu and onto their live menu for all of their locations seems like a great idea and would increase revenue, but at a cost of retraining staff and creating new protocol. While this is definitely in the cards for the chain, it makes sense to first double down on your existing inventory.
As a business owner, you can learn from this particular dilemma that Niccols is facing.
Ask yourself what in your business is selling poorly, before leaping to the next big idea. Make sure you’re being as efficient as possible with what you already do – otherwise you might be compounding issues for yourself in the long run.
Just because a product or service of yours is old hat to you, doesn’t mean that every consumer knows about it and uses it. You could open up new doors to revenue by focusing on existing products.