This vendor recently reorganized its portfolio with the operator in mind.

The pandemic brought with it a whirlwind of change for operators. In many ways, the industry is still dealing with the fallout—inflation, labor, and supply-chain issues persist. Each challenge takes time out of an operator’s day and cuts into already-thin margins.

Consider the process of choosing the right french fry. Often, product portfolios are dense, bloated, and confusing. Operators hardly have time to navigate through hundreds of SKUs, let alone sample them all.

Taking note of these challenges were the people at Lamb Weston—founded in 1950, the company is one of the country’s largest potato and french fry producers. In the early days of the pandemic, Lamb Weston began to wonder how it could help make the industry a bit more sane.

“When COVID hit, we all started to realize that we had to work harder to simplify an operator’s life,” says Kim Hoffman, product marketing director, portfolio management at Lamb Weston. “We wanted to flip it from us being a technical commodity, to a value-based proposition. We started more carefully considering, ‘What does the operator really care about?’”

These brainstorming sessions led to Lamb Weston’s “Simplifry” campaign. This required careful review, auditing, and revisions of Lamb Weston’s portfolio of products, using an operator-first lens to make Lamb Weston’s french fry offerings as intuitive as possible. Even some of the product names were modified to match the language operators use—if they care about how crispy a fry is, why not use verbiage to call that out?

Each SKU is now sorted into one of four categories: classic fries, extra crispy fries, sweet potatoes, or “other” potato products. Within each category, there are fries designed for specific operational needs.

Additionally, operators can take a brief online “Find My Fry” quiz to see which product would be the best fit for their operation. The quiz is meant to be fun and playful, but it also generates real results that are rooted in Lamb Weston’s extensive knowledge of the industry, based on market research and decades of experience.

“We really feel like we’re here to be advisors,” Hoffman says. “The quiz was us saying, ‘How can we make this as quick and efficient as possible?’ Because each operator has their own set of problems they have to solve for, but they don’t always have time to do it.”

Simplifying the fry-selection process is meant to get operators back to what they do best: building an enticing, innovative menu, and facilitating a top-notch customer experience. Turning something that was once a hindrance into something potentially powerful—having the perfect french fry offerings—is helping do just that.

“We say it over and over: ‘operator first,’” Hoffman says. “Operators are at the core of everything we do. We’ve been around for over 70 years. Now we’re trying to be innovative in how we think and sell and position ourselves with operators. That’s where all of this stems from: we want to simplify an operator’s life, and stay true to that message in everything we do.”

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