Heart Burst Capacity

A Saturday night/Valentine’s Day is the real Black Friday

Broken Heart
Suboptimized romance.. Getty Images

Confession #1:  My wife and I pre-purchased 50 Shades of Grey movie tickets a month ahead of time.

Confession #2:  I was looking forward to it.

Confession #3:  The evening’s multiple supply chain fails rival the movie in terms of sub-optimized delivery and disappointing customer satisfaction.

It should have been the perfect storm of romance – Valentine’s Day, Saturday night and an erotic, romantic movie.

  Instead, poor planning threatened to turn it into a tempest of sub-optimized supply chain

Supply chain fail number one happened early in the evening.  My wife and I have two kids in elementary school – so going out on any occasion is a big deal.  Going out on a Valentine’s Day Saturday night to see an erotic, cultural phenomena… well, the head spins with the possibilities.

Our plan – drinks, dinner and the movie at the MGN Five Star Cinema in Glendale, California.  The MGN is one of those “watch a movie, eat a meal and enjoy a drink” theater experiences.  Our 50 Shades tickets (again, purchased a month in advance) were for the 7pm show – smack in the dinner crush.  As we’re about to walk into theater #9, we overheard an employee’s walkie-talkie crackle with, “…we’re out of food…”

Excuse me?  My wife investigated what we’d overheard and learned that all the kitchen had left was burgers and chicken wings.

  Their menu boasts salads, crab cakes, smoked salmon, filet mignon and a variety of gourmet pizzas – like a restaurant.  They ran out of everything except the frozen stuff they had sitting in the back of the freezer. 

No one at the theater/restaurant looked at a calendar and thought, “We might need to order extra groceries for what will likely be one of our busiest days of the year.”  Again, this was their Black Friday.

  For them to run out of food before the dinner movie was like Best Buy running out of flatscreens at 9am on the morning after Thanksgiving. 

We were refunded our $20 (each!) and, on our way out, found the general manager.  He explained simply, “We were not prepared.”  No kidding.  Forecasts, demand planning, re-order points, safety stocks, cycle counting, lead times – it’s as if he’d never read a supply chain blog.

My wife and I rebounded.  We found 9pm 50 Shades tickets at The Americana, a few blocks away.  Most restaurants in the area had hour-long waits or were serving prix fixe menus that we didn’t time to indulge in, so we found the bar menu at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak. 

But the next three supply chain fails left me shaking my head.  In reverse order:

--3. My wife exited the ladies’ room after the movie and told a theater employee that the ladies’ room was out of toilet paper and hand soap.  The employee’s reaction was to agree with her – “Yes, I know.”  The degree of difficulty of keeping a public restroom stocked is a somersault as compared to the triple Salchow of, say, international pharmaceutical manufacturing.  Yes, it was a busy night.  And, yes, it was made busier by the perfect storm described above.

  But any manager with a calendar and a sense of burst capacity should have been able to add an employee or two to make sure customers were taken care of.

--2. The men’s room was out of paper towels.  Same issue as above.  But I’m a supply chain guy and it just irks me to see out of stock situations.  Again, burst capacity management.  Come one, people, care about your customers’ experience.

--1. The sub-optimized product delivery and disappointing customer satisfaction that is the movie 50 Shades of Grey…  No need for me to go into the details here – that’s what the rest of the Internet is for.  Some of the words you’ll find to describe it are “laughable”, “sluggish” and “one-note” – not how you’d want your supply chain performance to be described. 

But like all good supply chain stories, this one ends happily.

  While we’ll never return to the MGN cinema, my wife and I have a cocktail party to story to share and, well, for as bad as the movie turned out to be - $240 million in global box office for its opening weekend perhaps goes to show that a little watered down S&M trumps even the least optimized product delivery.