Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
19 April 2018
Sheetz MTO process remains sloooooooow
I lay it on pretty thick in a post on Sheetz some years ago. For purposes here, I am rescinding a portion of my prior analysis, yet offer up a new critique. You see, we’re discovering that Sheetz actually makes some decent food (for a QSR). In fact, its Garden of Eatin’ deli sandwich might be the best “quick-service” vegetarian sandwich one can buy. (Hell, for all I know, it might be the only one.) As an addendum to that statement: I place “quick-service” in quotes because the Sheetz MTO (Made to Order) process is anything but quick. Especially as a drive thru.
In my previous post, I ridiculed Sheetz for claiming it’s becoming a restaurant. I stand by that, but the food itself was surprisingly better than I expected. And the ordering part of Sheets MTO process is simple enough (it’s just a touchscreen menu). The getting your food part presents a huge problem.
Conducting some qualitative research, a few of us at Stealing Share scattered across the area to visit several Sheetz locations. At one, an employee took five minutes to even recognize us at the drive-thru. That also took place at many of the other locations. This is a massive annoyance as orders at Sheetz are not finalized until a payment is made. Where is the designated drive-thru help? And, if there is none, why offer this service to begin with?
“If you gain a reputation of being slow (and food being cold), customers will ignore you. There’s simply too many options, even for a made to order format that mimics a chain like Shake ’N Shake.”
Sheetz MTO needs serious tweaking
In considering the Sheets MTO concept, the promise of convenience and care is inherent. Neither of these ideals were present in our experiences. And that’s a problem as these are table stake services.
Having conducted branding for a handful of fast food restaurant chains, speed through the drive-thru remains job number one. Most chains actually time each customer’s experience, reaching goals that result in bonuses (or lack thereof). If you gain a reputation of being slow (and food being cold), customers will ignore you. There’s simply too many options, even for a made to order format that mimics a chain like Shake ’N Shake.
It’s not necessarily that you get your food fast (a made to order process takes time) but that customers are serviced as quickly as possible.
As whole, Sheetz remains a wonderful brand. It’s truly different than its competitors. But to make the Sheetz MTO process preferred, it needs some serious tweaking.
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