Scaling The Jalopy Sandwich

Nic Patrizi, proprietor of The Chicken Jalopy, developed a solid rotisserie chicken sandwich and built a menu of delicious variations using different sauces and ingredients. He uses fresh baked white bread, grilled on the sides. It has a little bit of char, which picks up flavors from the grill, and it soaks up juices from the chicken and the various sauces that he makes.  Its a delicate, interconnected, delicious system. Nic is proud to be able to create 95% of his product from inside his trailer.  The problem is, the sandwich takes a long time to make, what with the toasting on the grill, and its hard to get just right.  And Nic wants to scale his business. He believes the key to this will be replacing his bread with flat-bread, which will allow for more volume during the lunch rush.

It’s not like flat-bread would be selling out. Nic makes it himself, from scratch, early in the morning, as opposed to his current bread which is bought at Whole Foods.  Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as replacing one type of bread with another and moving on.  The char is gone. The sauces don’t soak into anything. The current bread dances with the chicken but the flat-bread is just the dance floor.  In another sandwich, the flat-bread might be better than regular bread, but this sandwich evolved in regular bread, and putting it in flat-bread is like dropping a South American iguana into the Galapagos. Nic continues to refine the recipe.

Two blocks away at projekt202, we see this all the time. Someone makes a product and successfully evolves it over time, then they are ready to expand it.  Everything, including the product, the technology, the target users, the entire experience, has to be re-examined.

When this kind of client comes to us, we help to identify the ingredient that is the essence of the product before re-building the rest of the product offering around it.  Contextual research and user testing is extremely valuable in this process.  So is developing a clear strategy for the future.  Research and strategy work hand in hand until they align to effectively inform design decisions.  Once these decisions are made and carried out, we check in with our client’s users to see if we were right.  Then we tweak and refine before delivering a successful, scalable, redesign product.

This is what happened when we re-designed the UI for Logitech’s Harmony 1000 remote.  We made significant improvements based on our user research, but having no control over the hardware, we could only do so much.  We could envision a holistically re-designed sandwich, but had only been hired to do the bread.  When Logitech built their next version, they brought us in earlier to give input on the hardware in addition to UI design. The result was the Harmony One, which earned a Best of CES award, a CNET Editor’s Choice award and became one of the best selling universal remotes on the market.

Nic won’t scale up until he has the right holistic product locked in.  Before focusing on chicken sandwiches, Nic was a banking and business consultant.  He knows the benefits of investing time to find the right pattern before pushing it hard because that’s where the ROI is. After all, he didn’t quit consulting to make a mediocre sandwich.