How The Yum Product Managers Are Adapting To A Changing World

Fast food markets change very fast
Fast food markets change very fast
Image Credit:
Amber Case

I can’t actually tell you if it would be one of the best product management jobs to have, but I can tell you that it would certainly be one of the most delicious. What am I talking about? I’m talking about being a product manager who works for YUM Brands. You know, the company that owns the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC brands. It turns out that the world of fast food that these folks live in is undergoing a great deal of change and that means that these product managers have to scramble to change their product development definition and keep up.

Change Comes To YUM

One of the biggest changes that is getting ready to hit the YUM product managers is that the company is getting ready to sell off part of its China operations. Yum! Brands has close to 43,000 outlets across the globe of which more than 7,000 restaurants are in China. In just the past quarter, the company opened 384 restaurants in China, which translates to an average of more than four outlets a day. Selling off a portion of the China business would transform YUM from owning restaurants in China to now working with franchisers who owned and operated businesses there.

Communication is a critical part of the product manager’s job. As YUM was considering selling off part of the company, the product managers needed to take steps in order to keep the rest of the company informed on what was going on. They did this by initially making sure that 60 of the top leaders were fully briefed on their plans. The next step was to hold a webcast with 200 of the company’s top leaders. Finally, an “all hands” meeting was held to inform everyone on what the upcoming changes would be. Done correctly, this kind of communication program can be added to your product manager resume.

This change, along with a number of other changes, means that product managers at YUM are going to have to make some fundamental changes in how they do their jobs. Specifically what they are going to have to do is to change their mindset from that of being the owners of restaurants. Going forward their time, energy, and attention is going to have to be spent on brand building.

What’s Next For YUM

One of the three major brands that make up the YUM company is Pizza Hut. In the past few years, Pizza Hut has been struggling even as other pizza companies have exploded on the scene. One of the primary tasks for the YUM product managers will be to repair the Pizza Hut brand. In looking at what is wrong with Pizza Hut, the product managers have discovered that they have made it too hard to order a pizza. What they need to do going forward is going to be to invest in new technology in order to simplify the process.

What the YUM product managers realize about pizza is that their customers want the entire process to be simple. This is something that Pizza Hut is not currently providing them with due in part to the restaurant’s complex menu that has many different things on it. The product managers fully understand that in order to simplify the entire process they may need to implement a great deal of technology. They feel that the gold standard in this area is Amazon which has made ordering something just about as easy as it can be.

The YUM product managers are always trying to determine what their customers want. What they realize is that their choices have increased and what they want now is not necessarily what they used to want. Initially, we ate just because we were hungry. The next phase was that food became an experience. Now food has evolved and it has become an experience worth sharing with friends and family. The YUM product managers are now in the business of providing their customers with a food experience.

What All Of This Means For You

The fast food business is a challenging market in which to try to compete. When you take that business and attempt to offer it on a global scale, all of a sudden a tough job becomes much harder. The product manager job description at YUM brands says that they have to ensure that their three brands, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell, are all a success. This is a real challenge considering the amount of change that is going on at YUM right now.

One of the biggest challenges that will be impacting the YUM product managers is that the company is in the process of selling off a stake in its China restaurant operations. This means that the YUM product managers are going to have to change their focus from running restaurants to building brands. The Pizza Hut brand has been underperforming for a while. The YUM product managers understand that they need to apply technology to simplifying the pizza ordering process.

The YUM product manager’s job is evolving. They are now going to be expected to provide their customers with a food experience. This is going to provide the product managers with both new challenges and new opportunities. Hopefully this will leave them with a good taste in their mouth!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: How can the YUM product managers improve the pizza ordering process at Pizza Hut?

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