Yesterday I tweeted (that’s Twitter talk) this statement, “Whether you like the food or not. KFC has had a pretty effective marketing campaign for their new grilled chicken.” Now I take it all back! The effectiveness that KFC was going to have with their marketing strategy (Free Piece of Chicken, Free 2 Piece Meal, Internet marketing, Oprah, Etc.) will be ruined by the incompetence of their local managers and store employees.
There have been several negative stories in the first full day of the promotion. The biggest story was a rumor of a riot in New York at a KFC, another story reported on problems like chains running out of chicken, while some people have been totally turned away for having the coupon Oprah provided from her website. Still others have just been turned away. I thought that these stories were being generated by PETA or just disgruntled patrons, until Today…
I have two KFC’s within about 5 minutes of my office. I printed my coupons just like everyone else and decided to use one at lunch today. I arrrived at the closest location and to my surprise it seemed as if they had a long line at the drive-thru. Typically this location has no one in the drive-thru. The line went all the way to the entrance of the parking lot, coming from the right side of the property it appeared there was enough room to pull into the parking lot to find a parking space between this truck, who was waiting for the drive-thru; fortunately it was just enough room! The only issue was, the line was not moving and the cars were packed in tight, like sardines in a can. I couldn’t get to a parking spot, but then I noticed, there were no cars parked. I looked at the front door of the building and saw a sign that announced the closing of the dining room for the day, of course there was an apology for the inconvenience. I pulled through the half circle in front of the building to go to the exit, but was met with a traffic jam. Cars in the suicide lane, cars trying to turn into the property from the right side of the road, and now cars trying to get in at the side of the property. It was lunch time, so it literally took 45 seconds for traffic to back up.
Fortunately for me, there is a second location close, so I decided to go there (as soon as I could get out of the parking lot). After all it is my lunch break, I want to enjoy a little time out of the office. I arrive at KFC location #2 and this time I see a few cars in the parking spaces, so I’m getting a little excited that I get to go in, grab my free meal, and sit and enjoy it. As I neared the driveway, I saw it. A line to the entrance. I couldn’t get in. There were cars lined up in the suicide lane, left turn signal blinking, cars parked in the flow of traffic with their right turn signal blinking, so I turned down a side road right beside the parking lot. As I looked at the door, I saw the exact same sign that the other location had on their door. Their dining room was closed as well. People were walking back to their cars from the front door, very disgruntled. I would have been a little more upset at this point, but I looked to the business to the right of the KFC, its their competition, Churches Chicken. What did I see? A KFC employee walking back to KFC with a bag from Churches of their famous Fried Chicken. Wow, I wish I had a video camera!
Both of these locations were obviously trying to limit the number of free meals they had to distribute today. Why would a company offer free meals and then shut their patrons out. Personally, I was upset at their reckless actions of pushing traffic to a halt in front of their stores. Unless you are turning into the restaurant from the suicide lane, you are moving. It is difficult to see some of the lines at the driveway until you are in motion moving into the line of parked traffic. To make things worst, people that cannot wait in moving traffic make things worst as they attempt at lunch time to re-enter the flow of traffic. I am sure both of these locations are under the same management. They are fully aware that most people do not have time to wait 30-45 minutes in line through a Drive-thru only to take their lunch back to the office with no time to eat on a typical 1 hour lunch break. They are pretty arrogant to think that their chicken is worth an hour wait. As I posted here, I’ve tried the chicken and its good, but its not that good. So, most people are going to have to leave, therefore limiting the number of free meals they distribute.
I believe the positive buzz that KFC had going for them will turn into negative buzz if this happens over the next 11 days! Negative buzz works if you are a movie star and your new movie is about to release, however negative buzz for a restaurant chain is not good. I think the actions or neglegence of these local managers/owners was reckless.
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