Why any Georgie Pie return will flop

As a former Georgie Pie employee in the mid-90’s, I thought it wise that I lay down a few truths regarding any “come back” that may or may not happen.

Recipe

For a start, while McDonald’s presumably holds the intellectual property for the pie recipes, the original plant is gone and they would be stuck trying to recreate a flavour profile without any of the original staff that ran that plant. So right off the bat, I would be shocked if the product tasted the same.

Hurdle #1: “This doesn’t taste like Georgie Pie!”

Price

Georgie Pie was beloved for the value menu pricing they introduced – everything was $1/$2/$3/$4 etc. A whole pie for only ONE dollar? Madness! Wildly popular.

I started working at Georgie Pie when this was in full flight, and ours was a popular store. (Kelston, the first drive thru in New Zealand!). On Friday nights, the store would be fully staffed (store manager, shift manager, dedicated bake station, fry station, 2 or 3 on drive thru, and staff for as many registers as we had, plus a floater who would switch between restaurant clean up and backing up front counter), and we would still have queues out the door. Literally, out the door. On more than one occasion, while I was working the drive thru register, my till would be completely filled with cash. I couldn’t fit any more in and would have to dump some in a take-out bag under the till just to keep up.

But after the value menu pricing became unsustainable, prices went up. For the most part, this meant hardly any change. A $1 pie became $1.10, that sort of thing. Not a big change, but the customer backlash was HUGE. Those queues out the door? Never once saw them again. Customers, who for the last 15 years have been harping on about how much the loved Georgie Pie and how much they missed it, just stopped coming. That was the beginning of the end.

Hurdle #2: “How much? Georgie Pie is supposed to cost a dollar!”

Waste

This was the elephant in the room that truely doomed Georgie Pie. At it’s heart, it was an incredibly wasteful business, not because of any failings in the business processes, but simply by the very nature of the business. Pies aren’t like burgers or pizzas than can be cooked in minutes – while Georgie Pie used the same commercial conveyor ovens you’ll find at any pizza chain, the pies (which arrived frozen, with a pre-cooked filling but raw pastry) took 22 minutes to cook. With only limited space for these ovens (they’re BIG), you can only cook a certain amount of pies at once, so to prepare for a lunch or dinner rush, baking would start 2 hours in advance.

How would we know how much to bake? Crystal ball, magic runes, the way the wind was blowing? Nope, even back then in the dark ages of the 90’s, the computer told us. It was some kind of mainframe type system, where the PC in the store office connected to head office and printed out a daily bake sheet. This was based on months and years worth of sales data, and the bake sheet was individual for each store. It told us how many of each pie variety we should put on to bake at what time of the day, for the entire day. Most of the time, this worked fine. But often, it would go badly wrong, either leaving us with too many pies if it was a dead day, or not enough if it was busy. And because of that 22 minute bake time, it was very hard to ramp up quickly if we were running low. This annoyed customers obviously, but, because of dwindling sales figures, managers were reluctant to increase bake numbers, because more and more frequently, we’d be left with massive overage.

Georgie Pie was always a fairly wasteful business. Pies had a 3 hour lifespan from the time they came out of the oven. Once they hit that time, they would be written off and chucked out. If you ever paid attention to the packet your pie came in, it had a time code written on it – on EVERY pie. So on a quiet day, we’d be throwing out piles of pies. Ideally, 30 to 50 per day would be a reasonable number.

As someone who often worked close shifts (late night), I would often be doing these write-off sheets. If your close shift had a decent manager, they’d let staff take some pies home after they’d been written off. It was against company policy, but fuck it, they were only going in the rubbish compactor anyway right? Well let me describe the scale of the waste – on one night alone, I once took home over 300 cooked pies. THREE HUNDRED. I wasn’t the only staff member who took home pies that night. You better believe the boys were stoked when I turned up to their place after work and feed their stoned munchies with entire boxes of hot pies! The deep freeze at home was stocked with pies for over a 18 months after I stopped working there.

Hurdle #3: “Holy fuck this business is costing us a FORTUNE”

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Breast Cancer Month

Breast cancer is something that has affected many of us, some in more personal ways to others, but regardless, just about everyone knows someone who has either suffered from it, lost someone to it, or even had a scare.

Myself, I lost my mother to breast cancer. In less than 18 months she went from being perfectly healthy, to first having a lump removed, then the entire breast, then finally passing while on the waiting list to have the second breast removed.

She led a busy life raising two kids mostly on her own, teaching, being the first one to volunteer for whatever task needed completing at whatever activity us kids were doing, getting up at 5am to take me to training, work all day, drive in to Auckland hospital for her radiotherapy, drive back out west to take me training again, then get home and cook dinner. IF she didn’t have a meeting to go to about something or other first.

From there, radiotherapy and chemo took a massive toll on her. Cancer is an awful way to die. She lost about 40% of her bodyweight. She could barely eat, yet she continued to run around after us. In the month or two before she died, she was practically bedridden. She was utterly heartbroken that her 13 year old son had to empty her bedpan for her. And yet, throughout all this, she kept a positive attitude. She refused to believe she was going to die, to the point of refusing to sign her updated will. A week before she died she contacted her boss to say that whilst she was too ill to return to work for Term 1, she was confident that she would in Term 2.

She died suddenly in bed at home at 7am on Jan 14th 1993. She was 42. A few years later, her sister also was taken by breast cancer at a similar age. Make no mistake, it is a terrible, drawn out way to die.

One of the main goals of mine is to increase awareness amongst all my female friends and acquaintances of the importance of regular self examinations. Early detection and diagnosis gives the best chance of total recovery in the worst case scenario of a malignant tumour. If my mum had discovered her lump even 6 months earlier, she most likely would still be here today, let alone had it happened today with improved medical treatments.

It’s not something that is hard to do and takes no time at all. I urge you to please, just do it. Those of you close to me know how I’m still affected by her death even today. Barely a day goes by where I don’t miss her.

Donate to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation here.

Health System Woes

So some of you have probably noticed the articles in the Herald over the last few days about poor service at North Shore Hospital:

‘Shoddy’ hospital accused over death
How the hospital failed my daughter

And a few other bits and pieces:
‘Critical’ doctor shortage at Starship Hospital
Hospitals fearful of doctors’ strikes

And I can add to this my own observations from recent weeks – my stepmother went in for hip surgery after a fall, and the day after surgery suffered 2 blood clots causing a pulmonary embolism and a major stroke, stopping her heart. She spent 6 days in ICU, the first 24 hours of that of life support, then was moved to the stroke ward. ICU staff and care level was nothing short of brilliant. Seriously amazing care, so much so that Dad is arranging a fairly substantial donation to the unit. All well and good so far.

Once in the ward where she stayed fro another week and a half, the care level dropped dramatically. Despite spending as much of the day there as he could, Dad never ONCE saw a doctor. Sure, the patient did – but they felt all they needed to do was explain things to her – the women who just had a major stroke, has suffered major permanent brain damage, is doped up, confused, and has no short term memory. He asked for a meeting with them several times, even waited hours and hours for someone to show up, and nothing. Alarms on the machines she was still hooked up to were left ignored (the one pumping blood thinners to avoid further stroke being one), and they couldn’t even get food orders right – because of the stroke-induced paralysis, she had to have soft, moist food – mush basically. Instead, they send up dry, cold, chicken drumsticks.

After a week and a half of this, she was deemed medically stable enough to move to a bed that opened up in the Waitakere Stroke ward. Even though it’s a hospital run by the same DHB, the level of care was immediately a hundred times better. Within TWO hours of being there, she had been assigned a primary care nurse, met the physiotherapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist, and had an assessment by the head doctor. TWO HOURS. All these staff made a point to introduce themselves to the family, explain roughly what they would be doing, and in the case of the head doctor, told us a few things she picked up right away that North Shore missed. Like the reason she was having chest pains? They weren’t sitting her totally upright to eat, so she was getting heart burn. Severe enough heartburn to cut through the morphine and oxycontin she was on. How simple is that? Oh, and North Shore also failed to send though her complete notes also, just a summary sheet. Handy eh? A few other complications from minor to serious were picked up, but even Waitakere staff were dumbfounded, let alone us. Doctor also told us that just the day before, she was the only doctor covering both Waitakere and North Shore. Smart huh?

So, after that story, you’ll be glad to know the government is on top of the situation, right? They are going to get it ALL sorted out!

The Health Ministry’s new chief believes it is possible to cut doctor and nurse positions without compromising health services.

Kevin Woods, head of Scotland’s National Health Service, will take over as New Zealand’s Director-General of Health in early 2011, the State Services Commission announced today.

Dr Woods has headed the NHS in Scotland since 2005.

Earlier this year, he oversaw the axing of 1500 nurse positions in Scotland.

At the time, he was asked by a Government committee whether it was possible to still provide quality health services with “significantly fewer” doctors and nurses.

“Yes, we believe we can,” Dr Woods said.

“We see our pursuit of quality also linked to our policy to improve efficiency. We’ve invested considerable amounts in equipping the health service with the tools to do that and yes, we do believe we can continue to make progress.”

Yerp, that’s the way to improve health services, slash the number of health professionals. Useless parasites that they are!  (Hat tip to MojoBob for that line)

Breaking Bad [SPOILERS]

If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad S03 E12 yet, then you DO not want to scroll down. If you don’t watch the show at all, fix up, because it’s FUCKING AWESOME.

So so so so soooooooo awesome and out of the blue. Even a fucking headshot from Walt? This aint your mothers Bryan Cranston that’s for sure!

M-car Dreaming

So as the car nut is often wont to do, I found myself idly perusing TradeMe for cars I could never afford, when I found a couple of 80’s classics I really like. Which gave me an idea: collect the whole set! :>

1987 E28 BMW M5 – $26,000
3.5l straight 6, 210kw

1991 E34 BMW M5 – $18,000
3.6l straight 6, 235kw

2002 E39 BMW M5 – $56,000
4.9l V8, 294kw

2006 E60 BMW M5 – $114,900
5.0l V10, 373kw

1990 E30 BMW M3 – $49,000
2.3l 4-cyl, 158kw

1996 E36 BMW M3 Evo – $18,500
3.2l straight 6, 236kw

2003 E46 BMW M3 Convertible – $51,697
3.2l straight 6, 252kw

2009 E90 BMW M3 – $129,999
4.0l V8, 309kw

1983 E24 BMW M635CSi – $29,995
3.5l straight 6, 210kw

2005 E63 BMW M6 – $109,900
5.0l V10, 373kw

Grand Total: $603,991

An Open Letter to Vector

Dear Vector

I note with interest your fibre to the door campaign, in which you’re aiming to gain public support in a bid for the National governments $1.5b broadband initiative. The simple fact that it raises public awareness about the issue is commendable.

However, on the other hand, it’s also taunting me. You see, me and my housemates are heavy internet users, for both business and pleasure. Currently our monthly bill approaches $200 for our consumer ADSL2 connection, so obviously we’re happy to spend a reasonable amount on our connectivity for a solid, fast, reliable product.

The problem is, right outside our house, within metres in fact, is a manhole cover. This manhole is stamped with the brand United Networks, which is now you guys. There’s even a CityLink manhole across the road as well. So, I know from both that, and your own coverage maps, that sweet sweet fibre is right AT my door already! Awesome! Yes?

No. See, no one will sell me access to it. Oh sure, a few of your partners WILL, if I’m willing to deal with systems set up purely to deal with corporate accounts, and pay a hefty sum in both service charges and hardware, well out of reach of a consumer. Ballpark of $1000/mo upwards plus a potentially hefty install fee for a non-lit building? Yeah, that aint gunna fly.

I just think it makes sense to try and get some residential roll out in the areas you already service, as it can only strengthen your case in trying to get a slice of that sweet government cash money. I know there are both technical and practical hold ups in doing this, but surely you’re going to need a residential test bed soon, right?

Regards

A heavy internet user who wishes to buy some of your products and services.