Strategically Sourcing St. Paddy's: A Retrospective

Strategically Sourcing St. Paddy’s: A Retrospective

by Nick Haneiko, Project Manager

Every year, St. Patrick’s Day is a time where people claim a questionable Irish heritage, find a bar that is open frighteningly early in the morning, and spend the day there bingeing on headache-inducing crap beer and whiskey. In Philadelphia, where I live, that’s your ordinary Tuesday. Despite this fact, or maybe because of it, every year my friends and I spend St. Paddy’s stuck in a boring, crowded bar drinking inflated-priced green beers while watching some college kid try and eat corned beef through his Kelly green spandex body suit or an actual girl name Kelly go green on her friend’s coat. We wanted this year to be different. This year required something different. This year, I called upon my training as a strategic sourcing expert and I strategically sourced the best St. Patrick’s Day ever. I had to — all of my friends depended on me.

Like any project in the office, this one started out by determining the parameters of what was required to ensure a great success. Given its intent, I developed a Statement of (Non)Work around it. We weren’t looking for a big crowd, though our definition of “big” was subjective given that it was St. Patrick’s Day. We wanted to hit bars in an area where most of the crowd would have similar interests to us (read: not annoying college kids with near-flammable BACs). We therefore eliminated bar crawls in the Manayunk neighborhood (this area may also be compared to Chicago’s Wrigleyville and any college town’s “strip”). We also knew we wanted places with some authentic Irish beers and at least a few big-named Irish whiskeys with some smaller brands hopefully in the mix. We also knew that, in order to properly enjoy the fruits of my labor across a span of eight hours or more, we would need to fuel up with food. Finally, we wanted to pay as little as possible, and if a t-shirt was thrown in, that wouldn’t be the worst thing.

With the scope of (non)work set, I began the in-depth market research. While most of our sourcing initiatives in the office get researched through our own robust databases and sources like, for this I used a specially tailored bar hunting resource called  Their Philadelphia page had listed all the area St. Paddy’s drink specials and crawls that would be available on the 17th, linked to their respective sites, and mapped them out. Suddenly, I had a wealth of data to analyze and spreadsheet.

In order to conduct an accurate comparison we also needed to develop a scorecard with weighted criteria as to how important each of the requirements were to us. For example, the beer selection was given more weight in the comparison than the tee and thus had more impact on the results of the comparison.

Based on our initial market research, we identified six potential organized competing bar crawls which included many of our requirements. We were able to quickly eliminate two of the crawls due to the anticipated negative crowd discussed above. The remaining four crawls met all of our criteria and scored over an 80% in our scorecard. Below highlights the main advantages and disadvantages for each of the selected finalists.

Crawl A

  • Cost for service: $25
  • Neighborhood: Nice Area
  • Bars: N/A, specific participating bar locations not disclosed
  • Drink selection: N/A, see above
  • Drink Specials: Highly competitive, range $1.00 – $4.00
  • Food: Buffet Breakfast included, food specials after 11am
  • Miscellaneous: $10 group t-shirt, also offered group discounts.
  • Scorecard: 84%

Crawl B

  • Cost for service: No cover
  • Neighborhood: Close to participant meeting point (aka my house)
  • Bar Locations: Mostly local Irish corner bars
  • Drink selection: Fair
  • Drink Specials: Competitive, range $2.00 – $6.00
  • Food: Cash Menu
  • Miscellaneous:  $20 group t-shirt
  • Scorecard: 88%

Crawl C

  • Cost for service: $35, with additional charges and fees
  • Neighborhood: Good
  • Bars: Nice mix of Irish and sports bars
  • Drink selection: Excellent selection of Irish beers and whiskeys
  • Drink Specials: Range $3.00 – $6.00, entry price included 1 free pint of Guinness
  • Food: All-you-can-eat pancakes
  • Miscellaneous: No t-shirt
  • Scorecard: 92%

Crawl D

  • Cost for service: $10
  • Neighborhood: A little farther away from others
  • Bars: Nice mix of Irish and sports bars
  • Drink selection: Above Average
  • Drink Specials: Range $4.00 – $8.00, offering two special St. Paddy’s cocktails, an Irish Potato Martini and a Chocolate Leprechaun
  • Food: Menu of traditional Irish fare
  • Miscellaneous: Offered free bus service, each bar had WiFi (something my wife considered a big bonus for reasons no one else could discern – maybe to quickly settle Steve Urkel/Stefan Urquelle “better dancer” arguments before they get heated?)
  • Scorecard: 90%

These all had promising notes – save for the mental imagery that comes with “Chocolate Leprechaun”. I weighted the results heavily on estimated total cost, quality of crowds, and ease of travel, with medium weight given to whiskey selections and freebies. After reviewing the scorecard with the team and getting their overall feedback, the choice was made.

On a wet and windy Sunday morning, my friends and I headed for Crawl C and paid our $35 service charge (which was more than we wanted to pay but agreed the overall value was worth it). We ably downed our free pints and converted their all-you-can-eat pancake policy into all-they-said-we-could-eat. As morning turned into afternoon, we continued on from bar to bar, thoroughly enjoying a great selection of delicious beers and whiskey. The festivities continued on as did the continuously emptying of glasses. Some of the members of our group (aka stakeholders/end users) began getting tired and were ready to start making our way back to HQ but we weren’t ready to give in just yet. Due to the extensive market research that was done, we knew there were multiple options. Because we knew there was no cover and it was on the way home, we decided to jump into Crawl B. Consider it a happy version of “project scope creep”. The crawl wasn’t ideal in regards to drink selection, but we had been drinking all day and at that point didn’t need anything fancy. With it being cheap and close locations, we all agreed and rallied on.

By the time we made it back to the house safely, everyone had their fill. We all had a great time and the group thought it was the best St. Patrick’s Day they had had in a very long time. Despite the adjustments to the “contracted” plan, everyone agreed it was a great success.

Just like the strategic sourcing initiatives Source One successfully conducts, things are not always clear cut and you need to be flexible and have the ability to meet all of the stakeholders changing needs.

Next St. Patrick’s Day? We may need to take a year off.

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