Panera Bread is Evil

Everyone in business has had the customer from Hell. Often, the employees get stuck dealing with them, while the owners or managers see only the revenue. There are time when a customer is so demanding, so expensive, that the only choice is to cut them loose and let them haunt someone else. It turns out that Panera Bread is one of those customers.  So much so their ad agency gave up the account saying “no amount of money is worth it.”

Panera Bread Co.’s lead ad agency, Cramer-Krasselt, has resigned its account after two years with Panera, saying it was “much too much even in this crazy business.”

An internal memo issued this morning by Chicago-based Cramer-Krasselt Chairman and CEO Peter Krivkovich and obtained by Advertising Age portrays a relationship between the agency and Panera that was fraught with tension.

The memo cites as reasons for ending the relationship the “constant last-minute shifts in direction, the behind-the-scenes politics, the enormous level of subjectivity that disregards proof of performance.”

Cramer-Krasselt said that “in the end, no amount of money makes it worthwhile.” However, the memo added that the agency still believes that Panera Bread is a “wonderful brand” that delivers on its food sourcing and quality promises.

“Many of us will continue to eat there. Because it’s that good,” the memo said. “But enough is enough.”

My goodness. I did not think it was possible to offend the sensibilities of ad men.

I’ve run into companies like this. They make it so hard to do business with them you eventually walk away from the account. I’ve never actually fired a customer, but I have systematically ignored them so they will go away on their own. Another trick is to raise rates so high they go looking for some other source. If they stay around you at least have the margin to make the account profitable. Sometimes, you just have to fire the customer, as there is no way to make it work.

3 thoughts on “Panera Bread is Evil

  1. Its called culling the herd in personal service firms, or the 80/20 rule. You make the most money from the 20% but you waste the most time on the 80%, unless you systematically cull the herd. One thing I am pretty sure is true, is Panera also was cheap as hell. The most demanding/irritating/time wasting customers are the cheap skates, because they dont recognize value.

    At some point you get smart and start to get rid of them. The fastest and best is just to fire them, the next best is double the hourly fee.

  2. No amount of money?
    Let me tell y’all about doing business with
    folks from the “fashion” industry.
    There’s this thing called a Change Order.
    Essentially, it’s a fine for stupidity.
    OTOH, the nice well balanced folks in that industry consistently cry poverty, and “forget to sign” their payment checks a lot.
    Along with Change Order, there’s this thing called a Fax Machine. I’m pretty sure the tears of agony from the folks buying the “iced cappys”, wine, and delivered lunches from the deli, instead of paying the bills, out-flowed the dramatic “tears of joy” at the end of the runway show during Fashion Week.

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