There are a lot of fast food chains, and a lot that tried to make it big enough to take on the grand-daddy of them all, McDonalds, which has sold hundreds of billions of burgers across 36 thousand plus locations since the opening of its first restaurant in 1940. One chain that hoped to take them at their level was Wendy’s, founded 29 years later in 1969 and which has since grown to over 6 thousand plus locations worldwide, with a rapid expansion that took place in the mid-eighties, about the same time they launched their classic “Where’s the Beef” campaign (which tried to demonstrate their value by focussing on the fact that they used a bigger beef patty in their main burger as compared to the two big competitors they were taking on, which they claimed used massive buns to disguise smaller patties).
This was not only one of the best campaigns of the decade, but of the twentieth century as this classic catchphrase has progressed into everyday use and is now universally used in the English language to question the substance of an idea, event, or product.
And, as such, this is a decision we should be making as Supply Management professionals every time we select a product, supplier, or partner. Because only a product, supplier, or partner with “beef” deserves our money, and only one with “prime beef” deserves top dollar.
So how do you find the beef?
The first thing you have to do is define what “the beef” is and when you are evaluating a product, supplier, or partner — strip away everything else. In automotive, high-tech, and defense, it’s typically quality and reliability. The bolt can’t break, the processor can’t overheat, and the interface has to be suitably shielded to prevent interference or hijacking. Cost is important, but not paramount, services are useful, but not critical if there are third parties, and warm fuzzy feelings don’t amount to much if a product breaks and someone dies as a result.
In services, it is all about the efficiency or the effectiveness, depending on the type of service being put to bid. If it’s for tactical data processing (such as invoice entry, verification and correction), it’s about efficiency. You want as many invoices converted into verified electronic format for automated m-way match as quickly as possible. If it’s for marketing media, you want services that generate campaigns that are as effective as possible — every eyeball and lead effectively reduces the cost and increases the value.
Then you create a scorecard that evaluates the product, supplier, or partner on the “beef”, and compare all such products, suppliers, or partners on the weight of the “beef” and only the “beef”. Any that don’t stack up are eliminated. Now you have the beef.
Then, and only then, do you do a full 360-degree scorecard to figure out which cut of “beef” is the best for your business. A lot of supply managers try to evaluate too much too soon, and spend too much time evaluating the bun and end up making an inferior supply chain decision as a result. So in your next evaluation, remember to ask “Where’s the Beef” to stay focussed.