How Culver’s Could Be Great

Posted on March 21, 2012

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culver's logo

1. Get rid of the Culverisms…

…and really any kind of lame marketing language. Actually, when I started typing “culvers” into my search bar the live search update said “come get Culverized..blah blah blah” That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. It’s lame and aside from that it’s not catchy.

I swear whenever I drive past McDonalds I get that terrible jingle in my head which is just as lame, but it works. Culverisms aren’t a thing. Nobody is writing/texting into Culvers to say things like “A day without Culvers is like a day without sunshine.” (yes that’s a real culverism printed on their paper cups. What? You’ve never heard of a culverism before? Exactly.

2. Get thinner fries

It may seem ironic, but the last thing I want to get when I bite into a delicious fry is a mouthful of potato! Fries are supposed to be crunchy on the outside but I don’t know how often I get fries at Culvers that are soggy, droopy, and undercooked. This is an easy fix. Get thinner fries or cook the fries you currently serve a bit longer.

A good example of what to shoot for here would be Portillo’s fries. I enjoy crinkle fries and so I see so much potential in Culvers but it somehow is one of the weakest elements of their lineup.

3. Swap out Pepsi for Coke

I’m not one of these people that has an awkward alliance to a soda brand complete with hostile one liners and petty self justifying arguments for or against a soft drink. Sure, I think Pepsi is nasty but where there’s Pepsi there’s Mt. Dew. So I can’t complain too much. The fact is that Pepsi is small time. Coke is the biggest soft drink maker in the world for a reason. They have wider appeal. And people absolutely will choose a restaurant based on soda choices. This is simply a numbers game and Pepsi is not the winning team.

Also, coke is the bomb and people who drink pepsi are redneck losers who were duped by clever advertising in the 90s promising that pepsi drinkers were somehow cooler than coke drinkers. (I kid, I kid).

4. Stop putting a pickle on my dang bun!

This isn’t so much about pickles but about attention to detail. Oh and STOP putting a pickle on my dang bun!

I don’t like pickles. I don’t want them on my burger. Yet when dining in and ordering a burger with ‘no pickle’ they bring out my food garnished with a pickle on top of the burger bun. What part about ‘no pickle’ isn’t sufficient instruction? I don’t know why this practice is considered good or fun but pickles tend to sit around in pickle water all day so when they get put on top of something light and porous (like a burger bun) the excess pickle water seeps into said bun. And don’t tell me I can’t even taste it or that it’s all in my head because A) you aren’t my mother, and B) oh heck yes I can! And mom, if you are reading this, refer to B in that last sentence.

It all comes down to attention to detail. It’s not just the pickle, it’s the under cooked fries, sloppily chopped lettuce, pepper that barely comes out of the shaker, excess hot fudge that melts that wonderful custard. Tighten up these details and people will be coming back for more in ways they haven’t in the past.

5. Do fewer things

Steve Jobs once told the CEO of Nike,

“Nike makes some of the best products in the world – products that you lust after, absolutely beautiful stunning products. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff, and focus on the good stuff.”

This is ultimately what could rocket Culvers into an amazing establishment rather than an okay one that sometimes has decent favor-of-the-day-sundaes. I honestly believe that variety is overrated. I’d rather have less choice but know that whatever I get is going to be amazing. But the fact is I’m not always satisfied when I leave Culvers.

You can get fish, pulled pork, burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken strips, fried chicken, pork tenderloin, prime rib sandwiches, pot roast sandwich, reubens…and that’s just the meat.

I’ve tried a good number of those things at Culvers and while all of them are decent for a slightly higher price than fast food, none of them are spectacular. Except for the burger. That butterburger gets me every time and it’s not even perfect. There is room for improvement. Culvers does two things really well: burgers and custard. If they got better fries, dropped the other junk and perfected their burgers and custard offerings they would truly be on a new level.

Isn’t that what companies want anyway? Don’t they want to be good at something and not just to do something?

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