I am impressed by the flow at Espa Bolleland, a Norwegian gas station 90 km north of Oslo.
Espa bolleland is a natural stopover for us when we drive to our cabin. We can get freshly baked buns, coffee and a toilet visit if needed. We are not alone: lots of cars passing by, choose to stop here.
What's so amazing with Espa bolleland, is that besides all their visitors, you experience a good flow. They have people guiding the traffic in and out. The delivery of buns and coffee is done in a moment. Even toilet visits go relatively fast even at crowded days.
The toilets have installed hand dryer which apparently is among the most efficient and energy-saving hand dryers in the market. It seems like they have thought about every detail to achieve flow.
Good flow and fast lead times are critical to handle the variation they experience. Their sales record so far is 17,200 buns in one day! This is a world record for sale of buns during one day, and it was set Easter this year. 12 buns in average every second through 24 hours. How is it possible?
In total, they sold 1.6 million buns in 2016; almost 4,400 buns on average every day. At the most popular days they sell more than 3 times as many buns as average. How do they manage to predict which days they sell 1000 buns and which days they sell 17000 buns?
The dough is made at a bakery in Oslo, before it is sent to Espa, where it is raised for many hours, usually overnight. The buns are baked in a 4-deck pizza oven. Since 2006, it is only Espa who use this recipe since other gas stations have switched to another type of yeast, and raise the dough with steam and hot air. With a production process, likely to take longer than their competitors' process, how do they manage to meet the fluctuating customer demand?
They must have a good knowledge of expected visitors and sale. Easter and sport arrangements like “Birkebeineren” is certainly easier to predict. But what about other weekends and days throughout the year? Do they use the weather forecast to predict visitors?
They are also impressive creative: they have created their own clothing collection, arrange lectures for companies and sell locally produced food.
The first picture is captured by Rostam Torki.