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The latest news on KFC from Business Insider

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    kfc col sandersKFC knows it has lost customers' trust. Now it is debuting a new program to win Americans back.

    "Customers were saying, 'Your food doesn't taste the same,'" Jason Marker, KFC's US president, said Monday in a press event. "We're not making the food the same way the Colonel had, and we're not making food in what he described as 'the hard way.' Today marks the end of that."

    The chicken chain is undergoing a process it is calling "Re-Colonelization"— a public recommitment to quality involving employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee.

    Effective immediately, if customers aren't satisfied with their KFC order, the restaurant will remake whatever aspect of their meal fell short.

    hot chicken kfc

    The chain has rolled out an extensive "chicken mastery certification" program, spending more than 100,000 hours retraining more than 20,000 employees. The retraining involved 43 rallies across the US, attended by more than 97% of restaurant general managers. National training events were also held in every KFC location in the US.

    More broadly, KFC has been trying to turn business around by updating its restaurant design, with plans to remodel 3,000 locations in the next three years.

    Its Colonel-centric marketing campaign, launched in 2015, is another piece of the puzzle in presenting KFC as a brand that is in touch with its culinary roots. New menu items, such as the Nashville hot chicken, have similarly emphasized the importance of creativity and well-crafted recipes.

    kfc gravy

    KFC's domestic business has struggled in recent years, with Marker comparing the brand to a football team "that was once great." As rivals such as Chick-fil-A have exploded in the US, KFC hasn't been able to keep up with modern, fast-casual-influenced customer demands. According to KFC chief marketing officer Kevin Hochman, only two in five millennials have even visited the chain.

    "I think it's fair to say that we haven't been living up to the standards or the philosophy of Colonel Sanders himself," Marker said.

    The Re-Colonelization — and the repositioning of the Colonel as a figure of authenticity at the center of the brand — attempts to recalibrate KFC by returning to its roots. In an era when consumers are craving authenticity, the Re-Colonelization could be just what the brand needs to jump-start its business in the US.

    SEE ALSO: Millions of people hate Colonel Sanders — and KFC is thrilled

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: An Iraq War veteran who works at KFC nails the minimum wage debate


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    KFC vs Popeye's 3KFC is making some major changes after losing customers' trust.

    With a new "Re-Colonelization" program, employees are being retrained on how to correctly prepare KFC chicken.

    "Customers were saying, 'Your food doesn't taste the same,'" Jason Marker, KFC's US president, said on Monday in a press event. "We're not making the food the same way the Colonel had, and we're not making food in what he described as 'the hard way.' Today marks the end of that."

    At the event, KFC head chef Bob Das and comedian Rachel Dratch — continuing KFC's commitment to employing former "Saturday Night Live" cast members — gave a step-by-step look at how KFC chicken is made.

    SEE ALSO: KFC is fixing a mistake it has been making for years

    Step 1: Prepare the breading mixture, which includes flour, salt, milk, egg powder, and all of the Colonel's original secret seasoning. According to Das, even he doesn't know what spices are in the original recipe.



    To ensure a proper distribution of the dry breading mix, KFC employees are instructed to "twist and fold" the dry ingredients 20 times, then sift the mixture.



    Step 2: Dump out the chicken and inspect for defects. For example, any chicken that has part of a bone broken off or that looks bruised in some way would be discarded.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    kfc chickenAs Chick-fil-A’s business explodes, KFC is realizing it needs to make some major changes if it wants to keep up.

    KFC announced last week it is publicly recommitting to the quality of its products, with employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee. The company is calling the process "Re-Colonelization."

    "Customers were saying, 'Your food doesn't taste the same,'" Jason Marker, KFC's US president, said Monday in a press event. "We're not making the food the same way the Colonel had, and we're not making food in what he described as 'the hard way.' Today marks the end of that."

    Effective immediately, if customers aren't satisfied with their KFC order, the restaurant will remake whatever aspect of their meal fell short. The chain has rolled out an extensive "chicken mastery certification" program, spending more than 100,000 hours retraining more than 20,000 employees.

    KFC’s focus on going back to its roots comes after a few years of incredible sales growth at rival Chick-fil-A.

    chick fil a

    In 2012, Chick-fil-A passed KFC as the No. 1 chicken chain in the US by sales, despite having fewer locations. Last year, Chick-fil-A says its system-wide sales topped $6.1 billion, with same-store-sales growth in the double-digits.

    Much of the growth in recent years has been rooted in major changes — many of which have helped differentiate Chick-fil-A from KFC.

    The chain has centered its menu on healthy and higher-quality offerings, launching a premium-coffee line and a new grilled-chicken recipe in 2014, plus a kale and broccolini salad earlier this year. Chick-fil-A is increasingly marketing itself as a family-centric restaurant with dine-in potential, rolling out table service and "Mom’s Valet" for parents with young children.

    With these changes, Chick-fil-A has portrayed itself as a community-minded place to take a break, setting itself apart from the negative reputations that plague the fast-food industry.

    kfc col sanders

    Now it looks as though KFC is doing much the same thing.

    While KFC isn’t trying to be as family-focused as Chick-fil-A, it is similarly attempting to establish itself as an authentic and higher-quality dining option.

    The recent Colonel-centric marketing campaign and even the idea of "Re-Colonelization" puts the chain’s historical and culinary roots front and center. New menu items such as Nashville Hot Chicken similarly emphasize craft and creativity, attempting to disabuse customers of the notion that KFC simply sells cheap, low-quality chicken.

    "We’re like a football team … that was once great," Marker said in the event. "And [now] the fans are kind of like, 'What are you guys doing? Come on.'"

    As KFC plans its comeback, it’s going to have to compete with Chick-fil-A. Fortunately for KFC, Chick-fil-A has created a playbook full of notes on how to win over customers from coast-to-coast — and the chicken chain seems ready to imitate some of its rival's plays.

    SEE ALSO: KFC is fixing a mistake it has been making for years

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This famous NYC fried chicken restaurant secretly has the best fries


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    KFC backtracked on its latest ad campaign less than one hour after it launched, according to Yahoo News.

    The racy tweet, from KFC Australia, (scroll down to see the probably NSFW screenshot below) showed a woman and a man on a sofa.

    The man's crotch area is blurred out, while the woman appears to be reaching into it.

    The image came with the caption "Warning: #NSFW. Something hot and spicy is coming soon.""NSFW" stands for "Not Safe For Work."

    KFC is not known for its salacious advertising. However, in 2005 the fast-food giant produced a UK ad that showed people singing with their mouths full. The UK advertising regulator, the ASA, received of record number of more than 1,000 complaints about the commercial from people who were offended by the lack of table manners, making it the UK's most complained-about ad of all time.

    The KFC Australia ad received more than 1,300 retweets before it was deleted.

    Many Twitter users had reacted negatively to the KFC tweet.

    KFC Australia later apologized for causing offense.

    “This was a genuine tweet to launch KFC’s new Hot & Spicy chicken products next week. It was not intended to offend and we’ve removed the image,” KFC said in a statement to Australian website News.com.au.

    KFC was not immediately available for comment.

    The now-deleted ad:

    KFC deleted ad

    SEE ALSO: Kenya forced Coca-Cola to drop this ad because it 'violates family values'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A teen built a KFC chicken vending machine made entirely of Lego blocks — here's how it works


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    Taco BellConvenience is more important than quality at Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC.

    "Easy beats better," Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed said an earnings call for the fast-food parent company on Wednesday.

    The belief that customers care about convenience more than food quality is guiding Taco Bell’s future, as well as Pizza Hut’s comeback efforts.

    Taco Bell’s sales have skyrocketed in recent years. However, in the most recent quarter, business slowed (in part due to the late-in-the-quarter introduction of the Quesalupa), with US same-store sales increasing by 1% in the first quarter, compared to 6% last year.

    Instead of attempting to battle fast-casual chains like Chipotle with higher-quality and more expensive offerings, Taco Bell is doubling down on making food easier to purchase, with a focus on delivery and digital innovation.

    taco bell

    "We’ve got to find ways to make it easier for customers to get to our brands," said Creed. "We do that two ways: we build more units, but we also look at delivery as a way to get our food to customers in their homes."

    Taco Bell has expanded delivery to about 500 locations in the US, through a partnership with DoorDash. According to the company, delivery has been customers’ No. 1 demand for the chain.

    Taco Bell is also majorly invested in boosting digital orders. In 2015, Taco Bell launched online ordering and payment. It has one of the most convenient mobile apps in the business, with 30% higher average order values on mobile compared to in-store purchases. The chain is even testing a “TacoBot” that allowed customers to order on workplace messaging service Slack.

    pizza hut pan pizza

    Pizza Hut has been even more strongly guided by the "easy beats better" philosophy, with the brand’s team coming up with the concept. The lightning bolt of inspiration came last year when Pizza Hut executives realized the chain had focused too much on making pizza that customers enjoyed, instead of cutting delivery time, reports the Associated Press.

    So far, the idea of "easy beats better" has helped reinvigorate the brand. Pizza Hut reported a 5% same-store sales growth in the US, outpacing both KFC and Taco Bell.  

    Pizza Hut's conception of "easy" is similar to that of Taco Bell, with a focus on delivery and digital innovation. Today, 46% of delivery carry-out orders at the chain come from digital channels. While that’s a huge percentage, it lags behind rivals Papa John’s and Domino’s, both of which report that more than half of sales are from digital — something Pizza Hut needs to fix if it wants to catch up.

    hot chicken kfc

    Of the Yum sister brands, KFC seems like the odd chain out the issue of the supremacy of convenience, especially with recent marketing campaigns focused on authenticity and quality.

    The chain, which grew same-store sales 1% in the first quarter, launched a “Re-Colonelization” process earlier in April. Through Re-Colonelization, KFC is publicly recommitting to quality, with employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee.

    That’s certainly an emphasis on "better" trumping "easy." It’s a prioritization that has yet to show major positive results for the chain — though it has prompted some buzz about KFC.

    "It’s the brand that’s now being talked about," said Creed. "I think for a long time it wasn’t on anyone’s radar screen."

    Taco Bell

    Convenience is certainly key for fast-food chains. On the other hand, as KFC’s new campaign demonstrates, there is something to be said for making foods "better"— at least in customers’ eyes.

    Ultimately, the one thing that drove sales and made it easier for customer to eat at KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut in the most recent quarter was an emphasis on value across the chains. The return of the $5 boxes boosted sales at KFC, the new $1 breakfast menu increased transactions by 8% at Taco Bell, and the $5 flavor menu was identified as helping growth traffic at Pizza Hut.

    It’s key for chains to make it easy for customers to order fast-food — but even more important to make it an easy financial decision to do so. As for high-quality food, it seems like many customers can take it or leave it in 2016.

    SEE ALSO: Taco Bell spent years trying to fix a huge mistake that customers hate — but it still hasn’t succeeded

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: These are the watches worn by the smartest and most powerful men in the world


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    Every fast food chain has a kid's meal. But which is the best? Business Insider's Joe Avella decided to eat five meals in a row to see which was his favorite. Don't try this at home.

    Produced by Joe Avella

    Follow BI Video: On Twitter

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    rice bowlz

    Sometimes when you get to the end of your meal at KFC, you are left wanting more.

    Now you will be able to eat the bowl your meal comes in, at least at certain trial branches in India.

    The new packaging is being tested on KFC's Rice Bowlz range, according to The Telegraph, where we first spotted the story.

    The tortilla bowls will be tested in Bangalore, a city in southern India. The project has been called an "India-first innovation" by Rahul Shinde, the managing director of KFC India. This indicates that the edible packaging could be rolled out globally if it proves popular.

    "We will not charge more for our edible bowls ... We will wait for consumer response and depending on the pace of adoption, we may roll the concept out to other items on our menu," Shinde added in a comment published in The Times of India.

    KFC's edible bowls coincide with a trial ban on plastic in the region, imposed by the local Karnataka government last month. The Karnataka government hopes the ban will help reduce the amount of waste in the region.

    Edible coffee cups

    scoffee cup

    This is not the first time the fast-food giant has toyed with edible packaging.

    In February 2015, KFC announced plans to release edible coffee cups, known as the Scoff-ee Cup, to customers in the UK.

    But the cup, made of biscuit wrapped in sugar with a layer of heat-resistant chocolate, has yet to appear in UK stores.

    "We don't know when we'll be able to launch them," Jenny Packwood, head of communications and branding at KFC in the UK, told Business Insider last year.

    "They're with our Innovation Team, but these things take time," Packwood added. "We didn't say anything about summer. It could be six months — it could be 18. We found people see coffee as an affordable, daily indulgence, so we want to make that treat a little bit more special."

    SEE ALSO: McDonald's is making its biggest ever change to the Big Mac

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Consumer Reports put Costco and Sam's Club head-to-head — here's the verdict


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    We checked out the nutrition information for kids meals from Wendy's, Burger King, McDonald's, KFC, Arby's, and Dairy Queen. What we found was a bit jarring. You may think twice next time you're in a pinch to feed your little ones.

    Produced by Emma Fierberg

    Follow BI Video: On Twitter

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    KFC Nail Polish

    Kentucky Fried Chicken is selling something that you might not typically find at a restaurant. 

    The chain is selling edible nail polish in Hong Kong, ad agency Ogilvy & Mather told BI Australia's Simon Thomsen. 

    The iconic chicken chain worked with food technologists from McCormick to put the company's spice blend into a nail polish with a glossy veneer. There are two flavors — hot and spicy and original — and ultimately, customers in Hong Kong will decide which flavor/color gets mass produced.

    To clarify, the nail polish is more "lickable" than it is "edible."

    Ogilvy & Mather creative director John Koay told Thomsen that you apply the nail polish "and then lick – again and again and again."

    You can watch a promotional video for the product below.

     

    SEE ALSO: 18 of the most bizarre fast-food items ever created

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This perfect fried chicken only needs to be fried for 3 minutes


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    Chick-fil-A

    Chick-fil-A is dominating fast food.

    The company generates more revenue per restaurant than any other fast-food chain in the US, according to QSR magazine.

    Chick-fil-A's average sales per restaurant in 2014 were $3.1 million. Its fried-chicken competitor KFC sold $960,000 per restaurant that year.

    The sub chain Jason's Deli ranked a distant second with $2.7 million in per-restaurant sales, followed by Panera and McDonald's, each with $2.5 million in per-restaurant sales.

    Despite its relatively small size, Chick-fil-A also ranks highly in terms of its total sales.

    The chain generated nearly $5.8 billion in revenue in 2014, making it the eighth-largest fast-food chain in the US, according to QSR.

    Chick-fil-A has only 1,950 restaurants, and none of its restaurants are open on Sundays. For comparison, McDonald's has more than 14,000 locations in the US, Taco Bell has nearly 6,000, and KFC has more than 4,300 — most of which are open seven days a week.

    Chick-fil-a momsYet Chick-fil-A generates more annual revenuethan dozens of other chains that have more than twice as many US locations, including KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Arby's.

    So what is the secret to Chick-fil-A's success?

    Beyond the food, which gets high ratings from customers, many analysts point to Chick-fil-A's exceptional service.

    The chain consistently ranks first in restaurant customer-service surveys. In reviews, customers rave about the restaurants' cleanliness, quick, convenient service, and hardworking employees.

    Highly regarded customer service is uncommon in fast food — an industry notorious for paying low wages.

    But it appears that Chick-fil-A doesn't pay much more than the industry average. Chick-fil-A pays about $8.44 an hour, according to Glassdoor. The average hourly wage in the fast-food industry is $7.98, according to PayScale.

    Chick-fil-A says its service is so consistent because it invests more than other companies in training its employees and helping them advance their careers — regardless of whether those careers are in fast food.

    Franchisees are encouraged to ask their new hires what their career goals are and then to try to help them achieve those goals.

    Chick-fil-A"Do you know the dreams of your team?" franchisees were asked at a recent convention in Orlando, Florida.

    For Kevin Moss, a Chick-fil-A manager of 20 years, supporting his team has meant funding an employee's marketing degree and paying for another worker to take photography classes.

    Moss says he also tries to support his employees in times of need. For example, if an employee's family member is in the hospital, he will send food to the family and hospital staff.

    "I've found people are more motivated and respond better when you care about them," Moss told Business Insider.

    The company also offers leadership positions in all of its restaurants that come with higher pay as well as greater responsibilities. Crew members can work their way toward "director" positions in marketing, cleanliness, kitchen operations, and drive-thru operations.

    Many franchisees, including Moss, will additionally offer training classes for their employees to earn certificates in managing food and labor costs, managing conflict in restaurants, and other areas of expertise.

    "The better we train, the longer people stay with us," Moss said.

    SEE ALSO: Chick-fil-A manager reveals one test workers need to pass to get hired

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: There's only one way to get a burger at Chick-fil-A


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    McDonald's Create Your Taste 10McDonald's is a huge force in the fast-food industry — and it's just getting more powerful.

    Last quarter, 32% of all quick-service restaurant visits were to McDonald's locations, according to xAd's report on foot-traffic trends, which used the location-based marketing firm's geo-boundary technology to gauge the traffic of 12 of the biggest quick-service restaurants.

    For comparison, the chain with the next largest slice of the foot-traffic pie was Starbucks, at 11%.

    That's right — almost as much as three times as many people visited McDonald's in the first quarter of 2016 as any other quick-service chain, according to the study.

    But it might just boil down to one factor.

    "A lot of it comes down to the sheer number of business locations," Sarah Ohle, xAd's senior director of global research, told Business Insider of the chain, which has 14,000-plus locations in the US. "McDonald's does have the biggest chunk of revenue because they're such a fast-food behemoth."

    McDonald's Egg McMuffin Breakfast Sandwich 6

    But Ohle acknowledged that the fast-food giant's foot traffic also reflected the chain's recent comeback.

    McDonald's same-store sales in the US increased 5.4% last quarter, thanks to the ongoing popularity of all-day breakfast, which launched in October, and momentum from the McPick 2 promotions.

    Also important is customer loyalty to McDonald's. While the fast-food giant is often criticized, customers who eat at there are the least likely to visit any other quick-service brand.

    Starbucks coffee

    For example, while 37% of KFC's customers visited McDonald's last quarter, just 5% of McDonald's customers ate at KFC.

    Says Ohle:

    If [you] don't go to fast-food chains as much, and you're on a road trip or have a late-night craving, the first brand that's going to pop into your mind is the one you're most familiar with and most loyal to. McDonald's has had such a strong brand presence for such a long time, and now with the all-day breakfast push, they've had a kind of resurgence.

    McDonald's sheer size means that when it grows sales, even by just a few percentage points, other chains suffer. Understanding customers' loyalty to the brand, as well as just what an enormous portion of fast-food customers are eating at McDonald's, is key to understanding the restaurant industry — and McDonald's success.

    SEE ALSO: Burgers sold at fast-food chains and grocery stores across the US might not be what you think they are

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here’s how many calories are in 6 of the most popular fast-food kids meals


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    jamie dimon

    "There's this thought out there that in business, you have to crawl over broken glass to succeed — you've got to kill the other guy," JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said during an interview on CNBC’s "Squawk Box" Wednesday.

    But the reality, he says, is that "people have to learn to work together. Sometimes it's more about heart than it is mind."

    Dimon, an investor in KFC and Taco Bell parent company Yum Brands— which has a market cap of around $33 billion — said he learned the key to working well with others from former Yum Brands CEO David Novak, who Dimon considers one of the greatest business leaders of the last 40 years. Novak also appeared on "Squawk Box" Wednesday to talk about this "secret weapon:"recognition.

    "People are starved for recognition all around the world," Novak told CNBC, citing recent research that shows more than 80% of people feel they are not recognized by their supervisor for what they do, and 60% say they value recognition as much as money.

    "Recognition is a secret weapon that every leader really needs to use," Novak said.

    David Novak Yum! BrandsDimon said he didn't fully understand what "recognition" meant until he saw Novak practicing it.

    "It's not just that you are recognizing other people,"Dimon said. "At the heart of recognition is, you're acknowledging you don't know it all. You're acknowledging other people are really good. You're applauding other people for their contributions. You're telling them that you want to hear what they have to say."

    If done right, Dimon said recognizing people "opens up a whole other door of management."

    "Good management is about the heart," he said. "It's about people trusting you and people knowing you give a damn."

    Listen to Dimon's interview here.
    Watch Novak's interview here.

    SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs' HR chief says this is what she looks for on résumés

    DON'T MISS: JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon explains what he looks for in an ideal job candidate

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here’s the one affordable habit ultra-successful people share


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    McDonald's Create Your Taste 10McDonald's is a huge force in the fast-food industry — and it's just getting more powerful.

    Last quarter, 32% of all quick-service restaurant visits were to McDonald's locations, according to xAd's report on foot-traffic trends, which used the location-based marketing firm's geo-boundary technology to gauge the traffic of 12 of the biggest quick-service restaurants.

    For comparison, the chain with the next largest slice of the foot-traffic pie was Starbucks, at 11%.

    That's right — almost as much as three times as many people visited McDonald's in the first quarter of 2016 as any other quick-service chain, according to the study.

    But it might just boil down to one factor.

    "A lot of it comes down to the sheer number of business locations," Sarah Ohle, xAd's senior director of global research, told Business Insider of the chain, which has 14,000-plus locations in the US. "McDonald's does have the biggest chunk of revenue because they're such a fast-food behemoth."

    McDonald's Egg McMuffin Breakfast Sandwich 6

    But Ohle acknowledged that the fast-food giant's foot traffic also reflected the chain's recent comeback.

    McDonald's same-store sales in the US increased 5.4% last quarter, thanks to the ongoing popularity of all-day breakfast, which launched in October, and momentum from the McPick 2 promotions.

    Also important is customer loyalty to McDonald's. While the fast-food giant is often criticized, customers who eat at there are the least likely to visit any other quick-service brand.

    Starbucks coffee

    For example, while 37% of KFC's customers visited McDonald's last quarter, just 5% of McDonald's customers ate at KFC.

    Says Ohle:

    If [you] don't go to fast-food chains as much, and you're on a road trip or have a late-night craving, the first brand that's going to pop into your mind is the one you're most familiar with and most loyal to. McDonald's has had such a strong brand presence for such a long time, and now with the all-day breakfast push, they've had a kind of resurgence.

    McDonald's sheer size means that when it grows sales, even by just a few percentage points, other chains suffer. Understanding customers' loyalty to the brand, as well as just what an enormous portion of fast-food customers are eating at McDonald's, is key to understanding the restaurant industry — and McDonald's success.

    SEE ALSO: Burgers sold at fast-food chains and grocery stores across the US might not be what you think they are

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here’s how many calories are in 6 of the most popular fast-food kids meals


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    kfc gravyOne year after KFC brought back Colonel Sanders, business is better than it had been in years.

    But the chain needs to accomplish one thing if it wants to truly come back: persuade Americans to trust its food.

    "In the birthplace of this brand, KFC hasn't done well in decades," KFC's chief marketing officer, Kevin Hochman, told Business Insider during a visit to the chain's Louisville, Kentucky, headquarters.

    As the chain exploded internationally, sales stagnated and locations rapidly shuttered in the US. KFC has lost more than 1,200 net restaurants in the US in the past 14 years, going from 5,472 locations in 2002 to 4,270 restaurants today.

    Then there's the issue of KFC's food. The chain has been plagued by rumors of using steroids to produce "Frankenchicken," even as KFC fries its chicken fresh at each restaurant.

    At the same time, business has been booming for its rival Chick-fil-A, which passed KFC as the No. 1 chicken chain in the US by sales in 2013 with half as many locations.

    To turn business around, KFC last year turned to the man who started it all: Colonel Harland Sanders. The chain is now undergoing a "Re-Colonelization," reinventing its menu, remodeling restaurants, and retraining employees across the US. Sales are rising, with growth every quarter since the Colonel's return.

    Here's why KFC's controversial campaign to bring back its founder's image worked — and what the chain still needs to do to regain its spot as the top chicken chain in America.

    The fall of Colonel Sanders

    colonel sanders kfc

    As Hochman tells it, KFC began a decades-long decline in quality and sales when Colonel Sanders died in 1980.

    "The issues started with the brand when he died," Hochman told Business Insider, comparing the post-Sanders-era KFC to Apple after the death of its cofounder Steve Jobs. "People think he was just our spokesperson, and some people don't even know he's real. But, he's really the founder of our values and our recipes."

    Soon after the death of Sanders, the chain decided to ditch the Colonel and its iconic red-and-white stripes from marketing. It instead focused on ads featuring young customers, and it introduced a cartoon Colonel in the 1990s — something executives today see as an embarrassing misstep. In 1991 the chain changed its name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC to highlight nonfried products, but the move inspired rumors that the company genetically modified its chicken.

    double down

    Operations broke down internally, as the chain added menu options without considering the effect the changes would have on employees. Attention to bone-in chicken — which remains the bulk of KFC's business — was downplayed in favor of popcorn chicken and other new developments. Tellingly, one of the chain's most memorable recent products is the Double Down, a double-meat, pseudo-sandwich that KFC is now eager to erase from Americans' memories.

    In the 1990s, KFC bet big on being hip, running ads starring young customers and chasing trends. The chain even produced an ad featuring a rapping Colonel Sanders. For a while, it worked. Now, as millennial consumers bristle at pandering and authenticity is the catchphrase of the day, it doesn't sell.

    "The consumer bulls--- meter couldn't be higher," Hochman said. "They know when you're being authentic and true."

    So the chain decided to return to its roots.

    The Colonel's revival

    kfc

    In May 2015, KFC released an ad starring comedian Darrell Hammond as Colonel Harland Sanders.

    It attracted a quick reaction in the US — not all of it positive. Those who hated the new campaign quickly emerged as the loudest voices on social media.

    "So far the response has been about 80% positive, 20% hate it," Greg Creed, the CEO of KFC's parent company, Yum Brands, said at a conferencea few weeks after the commercial ran. "And I am actually quite happy that 20% hate it, because now they at least have an opinion."

    Hochman told Business Insider that KFC knew bringing back a more traditional Sanders was a major risk but thought it necessary.

    "We have to have a point of view," Hochman said. "We've been playing it safe for so many years — some people will like it, some people won't like it, but at the end of the day if we're growing our business and we get more people into our brand, it's worth it."

    KFC Col Sanders

    The campaign required some tweaking. Hochman said many critics thought KFC was mocking the dead in wanting to poke fun at itself. Sometimes jokes got a little too meta and went over some consumers' heads, such as an ad in which a family of four (a longtime go-to for KFC commercials) eats a family meal in the Colonel's limousine.

    As the campaign has continued, with three comedians playing the Colonel in the past year, critics' voices have died down. One year in, it looks as if the campaign has gone from a controversy to a marketing success.

    Commercials starring Colonel Sanders have accumulated millions of views on YouTube, with the Colonel's reintroduction in the No. 1 spot, reaching more than 7 million views. The British ad-tech company Unruly crowned the chain the most shared fast-food brand of the year. Perhaps most exciting for the brand, celebrities are increasingly talking about KFC — without the chain paying them to do so.

    "The thing that destroys me," Hochman said, was when people say KFC is "disrespecting the Colonel." Hochman said he deeply researched Sanders (KFC has both a museum and an impressive archive) and spoke with as many people who knew Sanders as he could find. "Just the opposite — I'm trying to make him relevant again so that a Steve Harvey will tweet about him unprompted!"

    While commercials have been the Colonel's most noticeable return to KFC, Sanders also dominates the company's multimillion-dollar remodeling efforts. More than 50 locations have already been remodeled, and there are plans to redesign 70% of the chain's US locations, or 3,000 restaurants, in the next three years.

    remodeled KFC

    In brand-new locations, the Colonel is everywhere: plastered on the building's exterior, quoted on walls, and even displayed behind-the-scenes in the kitchen. KFC's chief development officer, Brian Cahoe, says the design and new ads go hand-in-hand in revamping the brand's image and bringing customers back to KFC.

    Putting the Colonel front and center seems to be yielding results for the chain. KFC told Business Insider that millennials' belief that the brand was relevant to them grew in the double digits since the new campaign began. KFC recently achieved its seventh consecutive quarter of sales growth at locations open at least a year, or same-store sales. In 2015 the brand grew system sales, the total sales of all franchise and corporate locations, by 2% in the US.

    Simply bringing back the Colonel, however, can't save KFC.

    The Colonel's distinctive voice may help pierce the din of endless marketing by other brands, even for those who hated him. But now KFC needs to get Americans to listen to what he is saying.

    Killing the 'Frankenchicken'

    kfc pressure cooker

    In April, KFC announced it was undergoing "Re-Colonelization," which it describes as a public recommitment to quality involving national employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee.

    "Customers were saying, 'Your food doesn't taste the same,'" Jason Marker, KFC's US president, said in a press event announcing the program. "We're not making the food the same way the Colonel had, and we're not making food in what he described as 'the hard way.' Today marks the end of that."

    If year one of Colonel Sander's revival at KFC was about rejoining the conversation, part two is making the conversation about food.

    KFC Lung

    "Doing things the hard way — we think that's our difference in comparison to McDonald's or most QSRs," or quick-service restaurants, said Hochman, who plans to double down on marketing the "food story" at KFC. "We aren't serving stuff that's being cooked in a central kitchen, frozen, and then reheated. We're really making food."

    KFC chicken is not organic or antibiotic-free, but it is prepared by hand in every restaurant, never frozen (except in special circumstances, such as transport to Hawaii and Alaska), and made without artificial hormones or steroids. Despite this, the chain has been plagued with rumors about mutant chickens and general skepticism regarding food quality.

    That's where — yet again — the Colonel comes in.

    Internally at KFC, Colonel Sanders represents high-quality chicken and "doing things the hard way." The Colonel launched a Re-Colonelization program of his own at KFC in the 1970s, when he was disgusted by the brand's departure from his recipes. KFC lore says that he would travel to restaurants around the US, testing gravy with a golden spoon. If he didn't like it, he would dump that gravy on the floor of the restaurant.

    If you aren't a KFC history buff, the Colonel-quality link is less clear. Re-Colonelization tries to make the connection, using the catchphrase "Colonel Quality Guaranteed." New ads further the effort, with commercials with lyrics like "the hard way is the way."

    KFC also launched a blog called "Chicken Chattin'," written under the Colonel Sanders name, with posts like "The Great KFC Mutant Chicken Myth" and "KFC & Colonel Sanders Pledge." Still, while the Colonel Sanders campaign may have grabbed customers' attention, getting Americans to believe a promise by a comedian dressed as Colonel Sanders that KFC sells genuine, "real" food might be more difficult.

    "I think it's going to take time," Hochman said. "You can't just pivot from Double Downs to 'We make fried chicken in the back of the house' overnight."

    Nashville Hot Chicken 2

    New menu items far from the Double Down are also realigning KFC for a food-focused future. The chain launched Nashville hot chicken, based on an iconic Nashville, Tennessee, dish, in January. While some were skeptical of the product, sales were strong. Nashville, a city originally highly unimpressed by KFC's take on the spicy dish, ended up being one of the top markets of the chicken's sales, according to KFC.

    Still, the changes aren't enough. Re-Colonelization, with its employee retraining and attempts at improving customer service, needs to extend into KFC kitchens across the US for the chain to take on its biggest fried-chicken competitor.

    Why Chick-fil-A is still winning

    Chick-fil-a moms

    While buckets of Original Recipe chicken can be prepared perfectly in KFC's test kitchen, ensuring that chicken is made "the hard way" at every KFC location is a much more difficult task. Unlike reheating frozen food (like McNuggets) or preparing food (like a Subway sandwich) in front of customers, there's a much wider margin for error when cooking is put in the hands of employees.

    "Operations, quite frankly, has been broken for a long time," Hochman said.

    KFC's difficulties in maintaining quality are complicated by its biggest fried-chicken competitor. Chick-fil-A has some of the highest ratings for taste and customer service in the business — a fact analysts say allows its locations to make triple the revenue of KFC restaurants.

    Chick-fil-A's dominance on a restaurant-by-restaurant basis can be traced in part to the chain's peculiar business model. The company accepts just 0.4% of franchisees, making it one of the most selective chains in the industry. Operators do not own or receive any equity in their business and can open only one location.

    KFC

    "I don't necessarily subscribe to their religious beliefs, or their beliefs about the world, but I think they find owners that are religious bent [who] tend to be more conservative," Hochman said. "They can make sure that procedures get followed. I think that's a competitive advantage for them. I don't know if it's an advantage I would want, but it's certainly working for them from a business standpoint."

    Today, Chick-fil-A is pushing a more apolitical, inclusive message than it has in the past. Franchisees are still encouraged, however, to become "entrenched" in their communities, including involvement in local churches — a strategy that has helped build up the chain's loyal fan base over the years.

    It's difficult to pin down what sets Chick-fil-A employees apart (their pay is roughly equivalent to other chains' employees), though the company attributes its success to investing in training employees. With only one location per franchisee and a strongly cultivated company culture, that training may come more easily than at chains like KFC.

    In essence, Chick-fil-A has developed a reputation for customer-service excellence. KFC has developed the opposite, with even the company acknowledging that customers no longer trust restaurants to delivery quality food, sparking Re-Colonelization.

    Bringing back the Colonel

    KFC

    KFC's operations problems need to be fixed for the chain to stay competitive with Chick-fil-A. As with everything today at KFC, the company's game plan comes back to the Colonel.

    While Re-Colonelization at first seems like a consumer-focused quality pledge, it has far greater impact behind-the-scenes at KFC. Last year, pressure fryers across the country were recalibrated. The chain spent more than 100,000 worker-hours retraining more than 20,000 employees. KFC held 43 rallies across the US, attended by more than 97% of restaurant general managers, in addition to national training events at every KFC location in the US.

    KFC

    Perhaps more interesting are the subtle ways KFC is attempting to boost employee performance and customer service. Redesigned locations reportedly experience reduced turnover and encourage more applications; in the kitchen, new signs encourage employees to "Make the Colonel proud." Blackboards at remodeled locations tell customers where the chicken comes from and identifies the chef who is cooking the chicken that day.

    Much of the brand's tech innovations are focused on employees, not customers, with digital innovations to help employees schedule shifts, restock, and even chart their distance from work to encourage timeliness.

    "We've got an initiative right now where I'm trying to make it easier for our employees," Chris Caldwell, KFC's chief information officer, told Business Insider of the brand's tech developments that excited him most. "Working in our restaurants isn't the easiest. You have to freshly prepare food — you don't have a whole lot of time for administrative tasks."

    KFC says taste scores have substantially increased across locations in the past year, apparent proof that the Re-Colonelization process is working by boosting not only customer interest but satisfaction.

    "I'm not going to tell you, 'Things are fixed! Say anything bad about me! We're Teflon!'" Hochman said. "We're not. We're still putting the pieces back together."

    It's a long road. KFC is still closing more locations than it is opening, though the company believes that will change in the near future, with growing sales and more remodeled locations.

    After the Colonel's success getting Americans' attention in the past year, however, KFC is doubling down on its roots. Now it will be left to employees across the US to make sure that the chain's chicken follows suit.

    SEE ALSO: KFC is fixing a mistake it has been making for years

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    taco bell naked chickenTaco Bell is tentatively planning to nationally launch a taco that swaps a tortilla for fried chicken.

    The "Naked Chicken Chalupa" hasn't yet been approved for national launch, but tests have been encouraging so far, reports BuzzFeed News.

    Taco Bell began testing the fried chicken shell in Bakersfield, California as the "Naked Crispy Chicken Taco" last September, expanding the test to locations in Kansas City in April.

    The Naked Chicken Chalupa is stuffed with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and avocado ranch sauce — a combination that is resulting in some surprising customer reactions.

    "We were getting feedback like, 'It's so healthy. It's so fresh," Kat Garcia, Taco Bell's senior manager of marketing, told BuzzFeed News. "That really surprised us because it's fried chicken."

    While a taco with a fried chicken shell is a new phenomenon, the product is reminiscent of a dish from another Yum Brands chain: KFC's Double Down, which launched in 2010.

    double down

    The sandwich, which stuck cheese and bacon between two fried chicken fillets, went viral after it was announced on April Fool's Day. While the sandwich gained notoriety, however, it also may have hurt long-term customer perception of KFC.

    "People look at the Double Down and what do they think? Frankenfood, right?" KFC CMO Kevin Hochman told Business Insider. "The sad thing is that somebody in the back of the house was hand breading fillets and making the Double Down."

    Today, KFC is trying to convince customers its food is high-quality and reliable — a perception that the Double Down may have damaged.

    "You can't just pivot from Double Downs to 'We make fried chicken in the back of the house' overnight," says Hochman.

    With plans to launch the Naked Chicken Chalupa, could Taco Bell be making the same mistake? The Mexican chain may not prioritize health or authenticity in its marketing, but the brand has made some major efforts to appeal to health conscious customers.

    While the Naked Chicken Chalupa may seem like a good idea in the short term, as curious customers boost sales, Taco Bell needs to be careful not to follow the Double Down down a dangerous path.

    SEE ALSO: Taco Bell has subtly become one of the healthiest fast-food chains

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    KFCChick-fil-A restaurants sell three times as much as KFC locations— and it's made the chicken chain No. 1 in the industry.

    In 2014, Chick-fil-A's average sales per restaurant were $3.1 million, the greatest of any fast-food chain in the US, reports QSR magazine. In comparison, KFC sold $960,000 per restaurant that year.

    The reason for Chick-fil-A's dominance is a mix of excellent food and superior customer service, according to many analysts.

    The chain consistently ranks first in restaurant customer-service surveys, with customers raving about the restaurants' cleanliness, quick, convenient service, and hardworking employees.

    Chick-fil-A's success on a restaurant-by-restaurant basis can be traced in part to the chain's peculiar business model. The company accepts just 0.4% of franchisees, one of the most selective chains in the industry. Operators do not own or receive any equity in their business and can only open one location.

    Chick-fil-A

    "I don't necessarily subscribe to their religious beliefs, or their beliefs about the world, but I think they find owners that are religious bent [who] tend to be more conservative," KFC CMO Kevin Hochman told Business Insider. "They can make sure that procedures get followed. I think that's a competitive advantage for them. I don't know if it's an advantage I would want, but it's certainly working for them from a business standpoint."

    Today, Chick-fil-A is pushing a more apolitical, inclusive message. However, franchisees are still encouraged to become "entrenched" in their communities, including involvement in local churches — as strategy that has helped build up the chain's loyal fan base over the years.

    It's difficult to pin down what sets Chick-fil-A employees apart (their pay is roughly equivalent to other chain's employees), though the company attributes its success to investing in training employees. With only one location for each franchisee and a strongly cultivated company culture, that training may come more easily than at chains like KFC.

    However, KFC is ready to change that.

    KFC

    A major part of the chicken chain's new "Re-Colonelization" process — a public recommitment to quality involving national employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee — is focused on boosting customer service.

    "Operations, quite frankly, has been broken for a long time," says Hochman.

    Last year, pressure fryers across the country were recalibrated. The chain spent more than 100,000 hours retraining more than 20,000 employees. KFC held 43 rallies across the US, attended by more than 97% of restaurant general managers, plus national training events at every KFC location in the US.

    KFC says taste scores have substantially increased across locations in the last year, apparent proof that the Re-Colonelization process is working not only by boosting customer interest, but also satisfaction.

    KFC

    KFC is also using more subtle means of boosting employee performance and customer service. The chain is in the midst of a remodeling push, with plans to redesign 70% of its US locations, or 3,000 restaurants, in the next three years.

    Redesigned locations reportedly experience reduced turnover and encourage more applications; in the kitchen, new signs encourage employees to "Make the Colonel proud." Blackboards at remodeled locations tell customers where the chicken was from, as well as the chef who is cooking the chicken in the kitchen that day.

    Much of the brand's tech innovations are focused on employees, not customers, with digital innovations to help employees schedule shifts, restock, and even chart their distance from work to encourage timeliness.

    "We've got an initiative right now where I'm trying to make it easier for our employees," Chris Caldwell, KFC's chief information officer, told Business Insider on the brand's tech developments that excite him most. "Working in our restaurants isn't the easiest — you have to freshly prepare food, you don't have a whole lot of time for administrative tasks."

    kfc chicken

    KFC is also working to compete with Chick-fil-A when it comes to food. While Hochman admits that Chick-fil-A's taste scores are "excellent," he says KFC has been steadily improving customer satisfaction as Re-Colonelization takes hold.

    However, there is one area in which KFC isn't trying to compete with Chick-fil-A. While Chick-fil-A has increasingly marketed itself as a "healthy" fried-chicken chain, with options like kale salad and grilled nuggets, KFC is sticking to its roots and doubling down on fried chicken-on-the bone.

    "It's not that it's not healthy for you — it's just fried chicken," says Hochman. "It can't be your go-to every day. Our customers don't do that and we don't tell them to do that. I think going out and telling people it's healthy — it's not true."

    Fortunately for KFC, health-conscious customers increasingly aren't invested in simple calorie counting. Instead, they want "real" food — something that KFC believes it can offer. With a Colonel Sanders-centric marketing campaign and culinary dishes like Nashville Hot Chicken, KFC is banking on old-school authenticity to draw customers to the chain.

    "There's uncertainty in the immediate nuclear family, there's uncertainty in the world," says Hochman. "People are looking for comfort any place they can find it. That's why fried chicken is growing."

    SEE ALSO: KFC admits it's been making the same mistake for decades — and now it has a plan to beat Chick-fil-A

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    hot chicken kfcNashville hot chicken is one of the best things that has happened at KFC in decades — and the chain's top chef agrees.

    KFC's head chef, Bob Das, told Business Insider that the spicy dish was his favorite new menu item in his 16 years working at the chain.

    The dish is based on the eponymous Nashville, Tennessee, specialty that much of the country didn't know existed until it debuted on KFC's menu in January.

    "The whole idea of Nashville hot was, unless you lived in Nashville and had an hour to wait in line, or had a bunch of money and lived in New York City or Los Angeles, you had no access to the Nashville hot," KFC CMO Kevin Hochman told Business Insider recently.

    KFC's new menu item was meant to change all that.

    At first, some Tennesseans were less than impressed with the efforts, protesting against a chain restaurant adapting the regional delicacy.

    KFC Hot Chicken

    KFC ultimately won over the locals, however, with Nashville becoming one of the top markets for the dish, according to KFC. The brand has called Nashville hot chicken one of the most successful menu-item launches in the chain's history.

    Das told Business Insider that the chain was entering a new era of innovation, kicked off, in part, by the success of Nashville hot chicken.

    The change comes at a time when KFC is seriously investing in the culinary side of its business.

    A year after launching a Colonel Sanders-centric marketing campaign, KFC is doubling down on telling what Hochman calls the brand's "food story."

    "I think we have a huge food story to tell, especially compared to our competitors," Hochman told Business Insider. "I think it's going to take time. You can't just pivot from Double Downs to 'We make fried chicken in the back of the house' overnight."

    The company is attempting to make Colonel Sanders the symbol of this quality. KFC launched a "Re-Colonelization" program in April, with a national employee retraining effort and a "Colonel Quality Guarantee" for customer satisfaction. New ads brag that KFC makes food "the hard way," and a recently launched blog called "Chicken Chattin'" is dedicated to addressing misconceptions about KFC's menu items.

    The efforts have been complicated by uneven execution at locations across the US, something Re-Colonelization and extensive remodeling efforts are trying to fix. KFC seems confident, however, that Nashville hot chicken, The Colonel's Original Recipe, and other dishes that haven't yet debuted will resonate with customers seeking genuine, authentic comfort food.

    "The new 'healthy' now for people is 'real' — and we have real food," Hochman says.

    SEE ALSO: KFC says it has been making the same mistake for decades — but now it has a plan to beat Chick-fil-A

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    YUMB_00_KFC_N2_large

    KFC is undergoing a makeover — including in areas that most customers will never see.

    More than 50 KFC locations across the US have been remodeled as part of a multimillion-dollar brand-revamp effort. In the next three years, 70% of the chain's US locations, or 3,000 restaurants, will look completely different.

    The fried-chicken chain began testing aspects of the remodel in 2014, using a revitalization strategy crafted by FRCH Design Worldwide.

    Here's what it's like to visit one remodeled location in Louisville, Kentucky — inside, outside, and behind the scenes.

    The remodeled location is immediately different than a traditional KFC, with bold white stripes and a roof that resembles a popped top of a bucket of chicken, intended to grab the attention of hungry drivers.



    Inside, a light shaped like a bucket immediately grabs your attention — a bucket chandelier of sorts. The light hangs over a large circular table, inspired by Colonel Sanders' first restaurant, where all customers sat around a single table, family style.



    The Colonel is everywhere at the remodeled location — especially the back wall, covered in photos of Sanders. Variations on the Sanders-themed red wall will be included in each remodeled location.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    hot chicken kfcWhile fast-food chains across the US are making major investments in delivery, mobile ordering, and employee-replacing robots, many companies are forgetting the most important part of business — the customer.

    "What I see with a lot of QSRs is 'me too,'" Chris Caldwell, KFC's chief information officer, told Business Insider in an interview about tech in the quick-service restaurant business. "They're doing it because someone else is doing it. They don't really understand the results, or what they're going to achieve, or what the consumer pain point is. And I think that's a dangerous place to be."

    When it comes to tech, KFC isn't necessarily aiming for the cutting edge — a position taken by some of the chain's competitors with "me too" attitudes. Instead, Caldwell says the brand is focusing on areas that may be less flashy.

    The most recent of these: mobile payment. The chain has quietly begun rolling out mobile pay, with system-wide adoption expected to be complete by the end of the summer. While KFC doesn't have a mobile app, with the new payment system, customers can pay with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay both in stores and at drive-thrus.

    KFC vs Popeye's 3

    According to Caldwell, the change was inspired by the need to update payment infrastructure to increase security.

    "If we're going to make a massive change like this, we might as well make sure we support the mobile pay options," says Caldwell.

    Caldwell says that he expects mobile payment to improve speed of service, especially as more locations switch to the slightly more time-consuming EMV chip card payment. Perhaps more importantly, it's an update that allows the chain to be prepared for the future, but not one that requires a major investment in an area that remains unproven in the fast-food industry.

    "It's dangerous to jump in with both feet and not know the consumer pain point you're solving for," says Caldwell.  

    DoorDash delivery

    The chain is taking a similar approach to delivery, currently testing DoorDash delivery at around 125 locations in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area. By partnering with DoorDash, KFC has the option to collect data on delivery and what customers want from it, without making any major investments of it's own — a win-win, money-saving solution.

    Meanwhile, KFC is investing in tech that most consumers will never notice, with a recent initiative to implement technology that makes life easier for workers. The chain plans is planning on testing new tech related to the less-than-flashy issues like inventory and scheduling shifts to 20 to 30 locations in the coming months.

    "The cost of labor is a challenge for us where we're looking for creative solutions," says Caldwell. "Some people would jump to kiosks for labor reduction… I think we can make our restaurant managers more efficient using technology."

    KFC's investment in employee-centric tech comes at a time when the issue is particularly fraught, both at KFC and in the fast-food industry more broadly.

    McDonald's Create Your Taste 6

    A number of current and past fast-food executives have recently addressed the belief that increased minimum wages will result in the loss of entry-level jobs, as employees are replaced by burger-flipping robots and kiosks.

    "It's cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who's inefficient making $15 an hour bagging french fries," former McDonald's USA CEO Ed Rensi said in a recent interview."It's nonsense and it's very destructive and it's inflationary and it's going to cause a job loss across this country like you're not going to believe."

    Then, there's executives providing a counter-argument: that new technology is going to be key to improving customer service.

    "I don't see it being a risk to job elimination," McDonald's current CEO Steve Easterbrook said in May at McDonald's annual meeting when asked if rising labor costs would force the chain to cut jobs. Instead, Easterbrook said, the company would look to automating food preparation, allowing more employees to work directly with guests and boosting customer service.

    KFC

    This pro-technology, pro-customer service conception of innovation seems to be shared by KFC. The fried chicken chain is in the midst of a major operations reboot, with 'Re-Colonelization' — a public recommitment to quality in locations across the US.

    In the last year, the chain has spent more than 100,000 worker-hours retraining more than 20,000 employees. KFC held 43 rallies across the US, attended by more than 97% of restaurant general managers, in addition to national training events at every KFC location in the US.

    While there may be more headline-grabbing changes when it comes to tech in the world of fast food, employees' ability to make food consistently and quickly is, ultimately, what makes or breaks a chain.

    Delivery may be a nice bonus, but, at this point, there's no evidence it can significantly boost a fried chicken chain's sales. The same can be said of mobile ordering or apps. However, KFC has plenty of evidence that poor employee performance can — and has — hurt the chain's reputation and sales, as the chain struggles to compete with customer service-champion Chick-fil-A.

    "Everybody has their theory about what [technology is important], but I think it goes back to seeing what the benefit would be — and not just doing it because it's something everybody is going to do," says Caldwell.

    SEE ALSO: KFC is getting killed by a restaurant half its size — and now it's making huge changes to get customers back

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