By louis
Published: January 19, 2008
Once upon a time there was an industry that produced toasted bread for clients. The clients would come in and tell the Serving Administrator (SA) how they would like their toast. The SA would write the order and send it to Staff, Heating, Operations and Preparations (SHOP).

In the SHOP there was a Toasting, Evaluating, Checking, Handling (TECH) person. The TECH would read the clients instructions, as written by the SA, and select the proper bread type. Next he would take an acetylene torch and heat the bread as evenly as he could, until it was toasted. Once toasted, he was expected to evaluate and check the results and then hand it out to the SA for delivery.

Sometimes when evaluated the toast was burned in spots and had to be thrown out. Sometimes it was under-toasted and had to be cooked more, and rechecked. But sometimes the client would complain the toast was not right and it would COMEBACK to the SHOP. Then the process would start over, and a big apology would be given to the client, to make things right. The TECH was also expected to redo the toast on his own time, and he should also feel bad about screwing up. This caused a great deal of fear in the TECH, as no one likes to mess up.

The industry was not doing very well, because way too many clients were unhappy and looking for alternatives to toast. This caused sales to go down, even as cost were rising. Some owners said if those TECHs would just do their job and evaluate and check closer we could solve this. Others said we need an inspector to check the toast and reject the bad toast before it goes out. Still others said, rejecting all that toast is too expensive, it is cheaper to have COMEBACKS than to strive for perfection. After all, everyone knows perfection is impossible, so lets just keep going the way we are and work on our apologies to the clients.

One day a new place opened that looked different from all the others. It was very clean, attractive and well lighted. One look told clients that something was different here. When the SA took the clients orders, he spent time to be sure he understood exactly what they wanted. He even had charts that showed the different degrees of toasting, and the SHOP had the same charts. Now the order "light" or "medium" had a standard and everyone knew what it was.

Further study, had also taught them that a machine that heated the entire slice of bread at once and had a thermostat produced much more consistent toasting. The toast was evaluated against the standard and delivered. Clients loved it, and flocked in to buy toast. Throwing away toast was a thing of the past, so the cost was much lower and represented higher value to the client.

The clients were happy, and the business thrived, but they didnít stop there, they continued to study the process of toasting. They found by precisely regulating the gas pressure they got more predictable toasting and even better results by improving the burner designs and insulating the toasters. They also found the freshness of the bread affected toasting as did the quality of bread. With better Providing And Researching The Supplies (PARTS) cost could be lowered, by cutting rework.

Research into different brands of bread found one gave more consistent results. They also changed their storage, purchasing, and handling methods. Soon toast could be prepared precisely as the client ordered it. Improved communications between the SA and the SHOP improved results even further.

They were now producing toast that exceeded the clientís specifications and at a much lower cost as well. People were standing in line to buy their toast and they could sell it for the same price as everyone else, and make a lot more money. Could the other toasting facilities learn from this?

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