The traditional Christmas wind-down often allows time and opportunity to observe businesses which have prepared their supply chain properly to deal with the demands of their customers. One of the easiest places to see successes and failures is at your nearest restaurant.
A recent family trip to an Italian restaurant, one of a major UK-chain, quickly became a catalogue of embarrassing failures. Our party of nine had booked a table in advance and informed the manager that we would be ordering from their highly publicised festive menu on the day.
Upon our arrival however the waiting staff informed us that the Festive Menu had been cancelled. Permanently. Worse still the ingredients required for the advertised dishes were unavailable and we would therefore have to order from the a la carte menu instead. The issue was really brought to a head when the waitress admitted that the dessert chosen by half our group was also out of stock.
Apart from immediately creating nine dissatisfied customers, the restaurant demonstrated a definite supply chain management failure by not having the ingredients required for their most popular recipes as advertised. Although Christmas closures at suppliers can cause severe knock-on effects, careful supply chain management and stock level forecasting can easily prevent such problems, particularly when customer orders are placed in advance. The restaurant had 9 orders on their books before the Christmas shutdown, making an ingredient shortage inexcusable. The fact that Christmas comes around on the 25th of December every year should also make long term planning all the easier.
Whether the issues at this particular restaurant were caused by human error or a computer system failure is unclear but the underlying supply chain failures are totally transparent. We would hope that the restaurant described learns their lesson in time for this coming December. This tale of woe should also serve as a cautionary tale for other businesses, in all sectors, next Christmas.