Skip to main content

Supply Chain Leadership Series VIII: Todd Imhoff, CEO, Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions (YUM)

Running a Purchasing Cooperative involves many stakeholders!

As President and CEO Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions (RSCS), Todd Imhoff is responsible for all aspects of RSCS’s business strategy, overseeing the quick-service restaurant industry’s largest supply chain cooperative. Exclusively representing the iconic YUM! Brands restaurants and A&W, he drives the strategic direction of the RSCS supply chain including the oversight of nearly $7 billion in food, beverage, and restaurant equipment procurement; end-to-end supply chain planning and optimization; last mile distribution for more than 20,000 restaurants; and development execution for new restaurant builds and remodels across the enterprise.

RSCS is unique, because it is a Limited Liability Corporation operating on a Cooperative basis. The cooperative is jointly owned by its members – the Yum Corporation and all its domestic franchisees. The cooperative structure enables transparency across the supply chain for all stakeholders.

Todd explains how operating a supply chain in a cooperative is a complex undertaking:

Todd also discussed a few less obvious, but critical things he believes are important for successful supply managers:

Working in a cooperative like RSCS, one of the most complex things we deal with is governance. It is critical in bringing all our stakeholders along in developing strategy across our key categories and managing contracts collaboratively.  The company is set-up to serve the unique interests of each of our iconic brands while leveraging Yum’s entire footprint. I have a senior supply chain officer who sits in each of those businesses and also sits on the RSCS senior leadership to drive cross-brand collaboration. RSCS also runs boards at each brand level comprised of Franchisees and Brand Leadership. 

At the outset of COVID, the business literally shut down, but in ~3 short weeks, it all shifted. – I’ve never seen a business take off at such a trajectory.   We had the benefit of drivethrough windows, digital ordering and contactless delivery which made us very attractive & accessible allowing our customers easy / convenient access to great food during a time when many businesses & restaurants were either closed or had supply challenges.   

We had almost no outages or shortages across any of our categories in any of our businesses.   And that was because of all the work we had done in advance to build a flexible & diversified supply base with end-to-end visibility. Most other retail channels were challenged, because although their business took off, their ability to have visibility into the supply chain was limited, and their ability to forecast well was challenged.   

Todd also discussed a few less obvious, but critical things he believes are important for successful supply managers:

One is critical thinking. It is the ability to solve difficult problems, tear things apart, and take a complex topic and distill it down into digestible and explainable pieces. 

And also, someone who has a growth orientation… not just from a top-line standpoint, but a true personal growth mindset.  You must be willing to fail fast and learn quickly, someone who is always looking to take something that appears to be working reasonably well and challenges themselves and their teams to find the best next way to do it. 

Many young managers focus on developing technical skills, but under index in their development of communication, influence and relational skills.  The best supply chain managers not only have the aptitude to solve complex problems and design great systems / processes, but they are also very adept at bringing others along, building consensus and driving positive change. 

RSCS has been an SCRC partner for almost ten years, and Todd is excited to further our on-going relationship.