Service is key for new KFC chief

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2013

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KFC needs to add value through service rather than aggressive discounting, the fast food chain's new chief says.

Jamie McKaughan has been appointed general manager of operations of Restaurant Brands' chicken chain KFC.

He said the company would focus on increasing KFC's services with faster drive-throughs and more efficient systems that would allow staff to serve customers more quickly. McKaughan said he aimed to double the number of cars going through the KFC drive-through each hour.

Staff training, development and motivation were critical to the ongoing development of the service culture at KFC, he said.

McKaughan said the brand was strong in New Zealand but he wanted to add value in the customer-service area of the business.

Since taking the helm about a month ago he had been reviewing customer feedback and visiting stores unannounced to become "totally in touch" with what customers were experiencing.

Customers were looking for more than just the lowest price, he said. It was about the "whole package".

The chain needed to focus on what "value" meant to consumers, McKaughan said.

Price was important but so was cleanliness and fast service.

McKaughan said customer service was often overlooked in the fast food industry.

KFC's sales fell $100,000 to $55.3 million during the 12-week period to December 2. Same-store sales declined 2.7 per cent.

McKaughan said focusing on value rather than price discounting would help boost sales. It was time to try something different, he said.

Heading into summer things were starting to look up, he said, adding: "I see some pretty interesting light at the end of the tunnel."

Poorly performing stores were lifting their game and the New Zealand economy was improving, but the path to improving sales was a "journey" that would take 12-18 months, he said. McKaughan has more than 30 years of experience in the fast-food industry in Australia and Asia, Restaurant Brands said.

He was previously general manager of the Oporto chicken chain in Australia and held key roles at McDonald's, Burger King and Gloria Jean's in Australia, Asia and in the United States.

KFC is part of NZX-listed Restaurant Brands Group, which also owns Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Carl's Jr in New Zealand. Fairfax NZ

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