Monday, January 21, 2013

The Death of the secret...

While you have been going about your merry way for the past week or so, something secret has been happening, right under your nose!  Here in St. Louis, a secret has become less of a secret but still hidden to probably a good 99% of the people.  What makes it even more of a secret, is that the people in charge of revealing the secret to a select and chosen few, didn't even do it correctly.  And on top of this, the ones who are supposed to execute the instructions for the secrets, can't do it correctly either.  So, what you have is a failed secret.

Do you get it?

What I'm talking about is St. Louis Bread Company's "Secret Menu".

Panera Bread, created a "secret menu" which focuses on healthy and high protein.  This menu worked well out West.  The only way you can get access to this secret menu of items is by registering with Panera and being part of the email distribution list.  So, the only way that you could see the secret menu's item of the beef lettuce wraps, was to be on the email list, and have a Panera rewards card.

To even know about these items, you had to register on the Panera website.  If you ask me, the idea that coupons or even special items only available to those who register or are on the email list is a great marketing idea.  It promotes people to register.

The problem that is happening though, is because this is all a secret:

*People are complaining that they cannot access the secret menu items.  That's because they didn't register and are not on the email list.  If you don't register or subscribe to a magazine, you don't get issues of the magazine and furthermore, you don't get access to special deals or coupons.  It is simple.  If you don't have a Costo membership, you can't shop at Costco.

*The workers can't figure out the secret menu.  Apparently the secret menu had a full nation-wide roll-out two weeks ago.  So, every employee at every Panera store should know about this and how to deal with it.  What you have now, two weeks after the full introduction, are employees who can't figure out where to input the items on their computer screens or even how to price these items out.

*Management is the problem.  Every time that my wife orders the beef lettuce wraps, it comes out the same way.  They put the lettuce on the bottom and then the beef on top of that and everything else over that.  They layer the wraps, like a salad, but they don't chop anything up.  So, what you have is lettuce wraps, in one bowl with everything on the bottom.  In order to make the lettuce wraps, like the name indicates, you have to dig out the leaves of lettuce from the bottom and under from all of the other ingredients and then try to make something with it.  So, when the manager is confronted about this plating disaster, she blames corporate, indicating that the way it is plated, is indicated in their training and their instructions.  So, somewhere in these restaurants is a diagram telling the employee how to prepare and plate these beef lettuce wraps and these charts suggest that the proper way to prepare and eat a lettuce wrap is to place the lettuce on the bottom of a bowl and then place the beef, followed by the vegetables and then finally add the pesto on top of everything, like a salad dressing going on top of everything.

This has already been labeled as one of the biggest marketing disasters for Panera and it certainly will be.  It could have a chance of being fixed if corporate could make sure that the items on the secret menu are prepared and plated as they are supposed to be.  But, in any case, if you are not a registered member of Panera and do not have access to the secret menu, then you honestly are better off.

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