After a tension-filled episode last week and Sue Mueni’s eviction, this week was bound to be a little calmer right? Wrong! My expectations from the contestants this week were high, given the challenges they have already gone through, and I secretly hoped they’d be given some sort of a break. But that is not the way of reality TV.
The episode began at Big Square, where the contestants met the CEO, Morne Deetlefs. The theme of the week was customer service. It is the backbone of Kenya’s service industry and a key focus for the fast-growing retail food chain.
The challenge was to create, sell and market a Valentine Burger for a day at USIU-Africa, with a focus on customer service. The teams had to design and set up a stand at the campus to sell the special burger – the catch being that they also had to make a 55% gross margin.
They would then be judged on four key areas: service delivery, quality of customer experience, chances of repeat business and number of burgers sold.
Viney led the Foodies team, which also had Susan and David. The Burger Meets Love (BML) team had Safe Joe and Valentine, with Lynette as the leader.
The Founder of Game Changer Marketing Agency and PR guru Patricia Mbatia was the week’s mentor and she seems to have struck the right chord with the contestants, in particular David who described her as warm and motherly.
The teams were given samples to try out so as to design their own burgers and toppings. The Foodies faced their first hurdle – what they thought was a brilliant idea to have heart-shaped burgers was turned down by the chef, because Big Square’s signature is its unique square burgers.
The Foodies set up outside the auditorium in USIU to take advantage of the hungry students who were attending a function for Black History Month.
But what would have been a great opportunity to sell turned out not to be, with the 650 bob price tag for a combo including a burger, fries and soda, ending up being too high for the students.
At this point it became clear that Susan was not crazy about Viney’s leadership style. The clash of personalities however didn’t stop Viney from pressing on with her ideas, and she went ahead to strike a deal with the Chairperson of the Black History Month who needed team Foodies’ PA system to score traffic to his event.
According to Viney’s calculations, more foot traffic for him meant more customers for the Foodies, but it looked like it just wasn’t their day because this deal did not work in the team’s favour.
Meanwhile BML had set up outside the student centre, and had even included some live entertainment to draw the crowds in. But trouble began when team leader Lynette forgot to leverage on her team members’ skills to get the job done. Rather than focus on the food (she does runs a catering business after all) and let Safe Joe (the music guy on the team) handle the music she decided to send Joe to pick the food while she remained behind – never mind that Safe Joe would probably have been more valuable if he focused on working the crowd’s appetite using music.
You could actually sense the panic in both teams: Viney got a reality check when one customer pointed out how ridiculous their prices were (the judges later pointed out, the price was six times the price of the competitor’s burger); deliveries for both teams took way longer than expected and the inevitable delays cost them valuable time.
But it’s in situations like these that people shine: David from the Foodies liked his product so much he sold five at Garden City Mall! Too bad his passion didn’t translate into a win for the team because they fell short – really short – of their target of 200 burger sales. They only did 20. Yikes!
BML did not do much better despite their more modest target of 75: they only sold 25 burgers. Who knew that selling burgers to college students could be this difficult? Add to that the fact that both teams had to reimburse Big Square for the unsold units – food must not be wasted people: it must be sold, and customer service plays a big role in how much you can sell a product even if its pricing is slightly higher than what the average customer would ordinarily pay.
This week both teams got caned by the judges, whose overall verdict was the performance was way below par. Judge TK had a problem with the teams’ strategies and tactical approach. Their failure to handle role delegation and pricing well led to low scores for both, with BML just scraping by to win at 39 points, ahead of Foodies’ 35.
This week nobody was safe: Caroline had them all “mulikaing” each other by asking them to name who they held accountable for their loss, and let me tell you, the only loyalty there was to self.
By the time Lynette and Viney were being eliminated I was on the edge of my seat! At least they didn’t leave empty handed, with both receiving business support and KES.160,000 from BLAZE to go towards their future business endeavors.
Four contestants remain standing: who will be next?
We’ll be tuned into the show on KTN this Monday from 8.00pm to 9.00pm to see who walks out of this blazing inferno.