Competition improves the breed – of this there is no doubt. If you think your industry has been turned upside down by technology in the last decade, spare a thought for the food industry. A century ago, food was still largely prepared from first principle. Then came gas and electric ovens and the refrigerator, each new technology indelibly leaving its mark on the way we prepare and consume our daily sustenance. In the immediate post-war era a new affluence and mobility catalysed the fast food industry and subsequently the home delivery of food and the microwave oven have wrought further havoc to human grazing habits. Now the bar for home delivery is bring raised even further – SuperFast Pizza has put the ovens inside the trucks, cutting delivery times from 30+ minutes to less than 15 minutes and more importantly, cutting oven to mouth times to those equivalent at a restaurant. No more soggy pizza!
Not all that long ago, food was prepared from first principles, two or three times a day, on a wood or coal burning stove and the extended family returned home at agreed times for its consumption. In little more than a century, technology has turned it all upside down. First came gas and electric ovens, then came the refrigerator and suddenly, the ability to prepare quantities of food and freeze and store it efficiently was possible.
Then came the microwave oven and frozen meals could be turned into hot meals in a few minutes and human grazing habits began to change rapidly. While the mass-produced fast food concept epitomised by McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks, Burger King, Pizza Hut et al is a relatively new phenomena of the last fifty years that can be roughly correlated to greater affluence and mobility of the immediate post-war era, the subsequent home delivery of prepared food is forcing the re-evaluation of every aspect of food preparation in order to shorten delivery times to create a competitive edge.
One high-powered entrepreneur from Wisconsin is rewriting the record books for home delivery – SuperFast Pizza has put the ovens inside the trucks, cutting delivery times from 30+ minutes to less than 15 minutes and more importantly, cutting oven to mouth times to those equivalent at a restaurant.
In order to achieve his vision for reducing delivery times, Wisconsin-based Scott Matthew developed a US$60,000 mobile kitchen – the units enable drivers to take orders, cook and deliver pizzas all at the same time, with call-to-delivery times now down to an average 15 minutes.
The ovens are electric and currently powered by onboard generators, though it should be noted that Matthew has chosen the Chrysler (Mercedes in some markets) Sprinter which will be the first to offer plug-in hybrid technology and almost certainly fuel-cell technology not much further down the track. Quite clearly, the Sprinter Superfast Pizza vans have the potential to be pollution-free and neighbourhood friendly as soon as the technology is available.
The Chrysler Sprinter vans are designed for one-person operation, with the driver able to accept orders via wireless internet or phone – when the backlog gets too great, the internet site automatically refuses orders.
The menu is streamlined, and pizzas are pre-prepared pizzas on partially baked bases sitting in racks waiting to be slipped into oven – from the time an order is taken to the time the driver is back in the drivers seat is less than a minute and the rapid delivery times and pricing more than makes up for the lack of optional extras.
The first pizza is US$10.99, but as the van is already delivering to the address, customers are incentivised to upsize the order. The next three pizzas are $4.99 each and five pizzas sell for $29.99. A selection of sodas (soft drinks) are carried too. “When customers are used to pizza delivery taking 45 minutes, and we come in a third of that time, you can imagine the reaction we get – it really blows them away,” Scott told Gizmag.
You can see the way it’s done at the SuperFastPizza web site.
Matthew’s business is growing fast with more vans planned for the immediate area and a franchising operation planned to enable expansion. Matthew’s vision is for 20,000 vans nationwide, which may sound ambitious until compared to the success of Ray Kroc (McDonalds) or Colonel Harland Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken – now KFC), both fast food entrepreneurs.
Kroc opened the first McDonalds in 1955, the hundredth in 1959, the 500th in 1963, the 1000th in 1968, the 2000th in 1972, the 3,000th in 1974 the 5,000th in 1978, the 10,000th in 1987. There are now more than 30,000 McDonalds restaurants worldwide with roughly 1000 opening each year.
Kentuck Fried Chiken was started by Sanders in XXXX. He sold his restaurant chain for US$2 million in 1964 with 600 outlets but the growth has continued and there are now 6,600 KFC restaurants worldwide. The appetite for KFC in the world’s most populous country (China) appears greater than that of the United States – there are already 1200 KFC restaurants in China and 275 opened last year with a similar number to open this year.
Potential investors and frachisees can contact Scott via the web site.