It was just a day like any other day. It was filled with lots of action, excitement and pressure. The restaurant business is tough, but you love it. Your head hits the pillow and soon you plunge into a deep sleep. You dream that you are at the grocery store and you just purchased a six bags of groceries at one store. Even though the mayo is 30 cents more at your favorite grocery store than the discount place across town, you recognize that it's not worth your time to travel to more than one store to save a buck. All in all, you feel pretty good about the $150 you spent on 6 bags of groceries.
As you roll your six bags of groceries toward your car, you suddenly realize that there are six identical cars parked next to one another. It quickly becomes clear that each one of them belongs to you. Strange. With a sigh, you accept the challenge before you, placing one bag into each car. Obviously, you cannot drive all the cars at once, so perhaps you could drive one car at a time, deliver the groceries then come back for the next car. You live across town, so walking back is not practical and driving back would mean that all your cars, save one, would end up at the grocery store parking lot. So, being the crafty business person that you are, you hire five strangers at $20 each to drive them home. When you get home each driver insists upon a $5 handling fee for helping you carry the groceries into your home. With fuel costs, it just cost you over $300 for $150 worth of groceries.
Flash, poof and you find yourself back in the checkout lane at the grocery store. It's not a new trip but the same one you just experienced. Wow, you realize that you are in a "Groundhog Day" scenario, and like Bill Murray's character, you will be condemned to solving the same problem over and over again,
This time as you approach the same six cars with the same six bags of groceries you decide to give five cars away to the strangers (after all, it's only a dream). You smile as they drive away and think to yourself, good riddance! Let those poor saps deal with the maintenance and fuel costs. You turn and load your six bags of groceries into your car and head home. Your $150 worth of groceries now cost you less than $160. You still wish to yourself that the whole process was quicker and less strenuous. Six bags means three trips from car to kitchen counter.
Flash, poof and this time you find yourself at home sitting at your kitchen table and writing your grocery list. You soon realize it's the same list you used to buy the previous six bags of groceries.
You think to yourself, "After my last brilliant move, I ended up with more money in my pocket and more free time without having to manage the five strangers, plus the fuel and maintenance on six vehicles."
You consider that it is still taking quite a bit of time to perform this routine task and there are so many other things that are higher priorities. You're an entrepreneur and respect time management. Plus, you want to get out of this crazy dream! Somehow you need to make it even easier to get your supplies. You go to your computer and start searching for a solution. You find a website that contains a list of all the groceries you could ever imagine. This makes it very easy for you to make a list and shop for the items you need. You pay the $150 + $10 for delivery. Your order is delivered to you the next day. Meanwhile you enjoy more time with your family and even squeeze in a round of golf. You marvel at your genius and realize that you were able to get more done buy only spending $10 more. Factor in your time and that's a bargain.
Good news! You awake feeling rested. Phew. What a crazy dream. Or, was it?
In comparing these three dream scenarios to real life, imagine the grocery store as the repository for all the tributary supplies your restaurant chain needs to operate. Everything else is your supply chain. Based on our experience, it's surprising that more than three quarters of restaurant chains are driving six or more proverbial cars to and from the grocery store. Of that there are a large number of chains that are still driving to and from multiple grocery stores. There are even some who own their own grocery store! A smaller percentage are still doing all the work themselves and are selecting, packing and shipping. The happiest, most profitable and mentally sound are those who are living the dream (dream No. 3 -- that is).