Monthly Archives : September 2015

Home2015September

An Amazing Story About Checklists

Wow! What an amazing write up about checklists in Restaurant Hospitality. It’s an older article from 2012, but it’s timeless. There’s no better use case for implementing checklists than what the author lays out in this article.

He talks about taking the unknown out of making sure that your staff is getting things done and doing it correctly. He mentions that your own life experiences drive what’s “common sense” to you and since your staff hasn’t had the same life experiences your views of common sense will be different. Thus laying out what you want accomplished into a checklist ensures that the things you want done will get done, your way.

There are some great tips in the article (copied below) about how to go about creating your checklists. Also talks about the ever evolving checklist that changes over time. That makes complete sense as the way you do business today may (probably) won’t be the same as you do it down the road.

He also talks about accountability and if you don’t actually follow up on the checklists and look at them your staff will notice and stop doing them all together. Everyone is busy and if they perceive a task as being unimportant they will push it to the end of the list. So following up on the checklists and using them as coaching opportunities will ensure that they continue to get done, which is what you want.

Now the one thing that is missing from all of this is the automation piece. Being that it’s 3 years old can have something to do with it as mobile technology has come a long way in the last years. It was around for sure, but the devices, bandwidth, affordability, and usability of technology has progressed at warp speeds the last few years.

Conducting all of your checklists on a mobile device and storing the data in the cloud available for anyone in the organization (with the proper permissions) to view is the final piece to the puzzle. Now you can make sure that not only are the checklists are getting done, but who really did it, when did they complete it, how long did it take them to complete it, etc. You can put rules and processes in place based on the answers submitted so the follow up can be automated. You can manage by exception through management dashboards and proactive reports.

None of those things can happen when you are collecting the data with pen, paper, and a clipboard. Right now it’s so simple and affordable to implement. Plus all your employees are so tech savvy so they will have no problem doing the checklists on their phone or the store ipad.

Click here to watch a video of a checklist app in action!

I have copied the full article from Restaurant Hospitality below:

Checklists help ensure tasks get done your way

If you think all of your employees possess the common sense to complete tasks successfully, you’re wrong. Employing a simple checklist eliminates the need for common sense.
Do you sometimes just want to fire everyone in your restaurant and do all the work yourself? Do you wonder why people can’t just do it the way you want it done? Do you ever find yourself saying, “It’s common sense?”

Common sense is a shared understanding based on experience. I can tell you right now that your managers, each and every one of them, do not share your experiences. They have not grown up in your shoes. They do not possess the same core values. They are not you and will not automatically do things your way just because you think they should have common sense.

You can overcome your assumptions about common sense with an easy two-step process.

Step 1: Create checklists for everything!

Creating checklists sounds so simple, yet I can’t even begin to count how many restaurants don’t have them. And when checklists do get drafted, many restaurant owners are not explicit enough about what they want done or how they want it done.

Here’s the easy way to avoid this pitfall. Grab a pad of paper, stand outside your front door and start writing down everything you see on a daily basis that needs to get done. Especially note the things that really get your blood boiling because they seem so obvious. Continue writing as you walk through your restaurant.

Be precise in your expectations. For example, “Clean glass on front door every two hours, starting with opening shift.” Then list the times.

When your list is complete, task one of your managers to customize opening and closing checklists incorporating every item on your list for every position. Remember, you cannot be too specific.

You have no idea how happy this will make your management team. They’re happy they no longer have to read your mind or endure your inevitable freak out. With lists in hand, your management team will be cool, calm and collected when they see you coming. They can say with confidence they didn’t miss anything if they followed the simple checklist.

Side note: Your checklists are never finished. You will continue to add all of the new things that drive you crazy as they come up. Don’t be surprised if your checklists are two to six pages long. But also don’t be surprised at how well they work.

Step 2: Follow up on the checklists.

Now that you have your checklists and have trained your managers and staff to use them, the easy part is done. You will see results almost immediately. I guarantee it.

But here’s what tends to happen. About three weeks after implementing checklists, when your managers see that you are not looking in the designated binder to confirm the checklists are being used, your managers will start to slack off. And once they slack off, everyone else will slack off. Eventually they’ll quit using them altogether.

How do you hold them accountable? To start, review the checklists daily at first. Find what your managers are missing and point it out. Better yet, show them how you want it done. It’s your job to coach your managers and help them be successful.

Once you see they are following them routinely, you can start to randomly spot check them a few times a week. These checklists will keep everyone on the same page for as long as they’re maintained, but you must check them or they will go away.

When you don’t communicate your expectations to your managers, you’re setting them up to fail. You’re also setting yourself up for endless frustration. Checklists give you an easy way to communicate your expectations and an easy way for your managers to know what is expected of them. This way, everyone is happy.

Today’s Struggles of Restaurant Management

It is hard to believe that I got my first restaurant job 30 years ago.  I was fourteen years old; I remember because I had to get a work permit, I was a grill cook at a Jerry’s Subs and Pizza in the Columbia Mall.

I got my hotel restaurant degree 8 years later, and I remember one of the big themes at school was manager burn-out.  We were still in that time when restaurant managers were expected to work 80 hours a week.

As I look at how the industry has changed over my lifetime, it is amazing to me how much harder it is today to be a restaurant manager than it was back then.

I think in the past restaurant management was a physically tough job.  Over time, I think it has become less physical and more mentally tough.

Our latest eBook:  Restaurant Management The Struggles of Today’s World discusses some of the issues facing restaurant managers today.  I encourage you to get your free copy emailed to you by clicking here.

Even though restaurant management is getting tougher, I think it is ultimately good for manager’s and the industry. As the manager’s of the future are forced to become more well rounded and to wear more operational hats, they will gain valuable skills, and the learning process will be interesting to say the least.

Ultimately all things evolve, and restaurant management is not immune.  So push the Dinosaur Manager’s out of your operations and look for those eager learners who are ready for their next big challenge.  Get them started with a copy of our Free eBook by clicking here.

Food-borne Illness Just Got Very Serious

It’s of course always a serious issue, but there hasn’t been a sentence such as the one laid down last week for the former owner of Peanut Corp of America. A 28 year prison sentence for the salmonella outbreak at his manufacturing facility in 2008/2009 that killed 9 people and got another 714 people really sick.

Now granted there was gross misconduct/neglect by the owner and upper management in this case which, I’m sure, played a large role in the sentencing, but either way the bar has been set very high. The message has been sent that the courts will not take these cases lightly.

Food manufacturers and service businesses need to do everything they can to prevent these kinds of outbreaks or ownership/management can face prison time. Add that on top of all the bad publicity especially in this day and age of social media and the internet where news spreads like wild fire in minutes. Facilities and food need to be checked and inspected regularly to make sure that there is a minimal chance of an outbreak.

Documentation is also a key factor. In this case the documentation worked against Peanut Corp of America in that they had emails going back and forth outlining lies etc. (Here’s an article from MSNews Now). Of course if it wasn’t the case that the company knowingly shipped contaminated food the sentence would have been less, but how less? Who knows? If they were able to show documentation that proved that they inspected their operations and food daily that would have helped as well.

The reality is that being in the food business you are dealing with human lives and it’s not a responsibility to be taken lightly. Just as airline pilots to a pre-flight inspection every single flight the food industry including manufacturers, restaurants, etc. need to perform similar checks every shift to insure that the food is safe. They also need to prove that these checks are being done consistently and diligently when they are supposed to be done.

Check out our blog from last week for some thawing and holding tips that you can start using immediately. Click here for an article with more details on the sentencing etc.

Click here to download our Better Practices Guide to Self Inspecting.

Thawing and Holding Tips

Thanks to the Missouri Restaurant Association weekly newsletter we’re able to share these tips for thawing and holding food.

Thawing
-Refrigeration: Thaw TCS food at 41 ̊Fahrenheit (5 ̊Celsius) or lower to limit pathogen growth. Plan ahead when thawing large items, such as turkeys. They can take several days to defrost.

-Microwave: You can safely thaw food in a microwave, but only if the food is going to be cooked immediately. Be warned: large items, such as roasts or turkeys, migh not thaw well with this method.

-Cooking: Thaw food as part of the cooking process.

-Running water: Submerge food under running, drinkable water at 70°Fahrenheit (21°Celsius) or lower.  Never let the temperature of the food go above 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) for longer than four hours.

Holding
-Hold foods at their correct temperatures. TCS foods should be held at the correct internal temperatures. Cold food should be held at 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) or lower, and hot food should be 135°Fahrenheit (57°Celsius) or higher.

-Check temperatures regularly. Timing is essential. Make sure you check food temperatures at least every four hours. Toss  food that’s not 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) or lower, or 135°Fahrenheit (57°Celsius) or higher.

-Use food covers and sneeze guards. Keep food covered to help maintain temperatures.  Covers and sneeze guards also help protect the food from contaminants.

-Use hot-holding equipment properly. Don’t reheat food in them unless they are built to do so.

It’s important to have these processes in place and ensure that your staff understands that they are important to your operations. HACCP #7 requires documentation. A great way to accomplish this is to collect and record all this data digitally using an app.

Check out the quick video below for more info on the OpsAnalitica platform:

[embed]https://youtu.be/mMI5w9GWb_Y[/embed]

Cruffin – I’ve got to get me one of these!

cruffin

This is a very light blog post today.  Light and buttery and delicious, or so I’m guessing.  Have you heard of the Cruffin? It is a genetically engineered breakfast treat.  A mad scientist, probably from Monsanto or Paris, mated a croissant and muffin together.  God bless technology.

Check out the original article here, too many mouth watering pictures to cut and paste, about the Cruffin and curse those who live by a Cruffin bakery. I can tell you that I will be hunting wild Cruffins until I bag one.  Enjoy

Screenshot 2015-08-09 08.41.41

 

 

The Next Big Competitive Advantage in the Restaurant Industry

ops-back-image-11

It is human nature to look forward trying to figure out what is going to be the next big thing in your industry so you can beat your competitors to the punch. I believe the next big thing in the restaurant industry is going to be technology, look how perceptive I am.

Technology and apps are presented all the time as these magic bullets that can fix your business. In a lot of cases, they can add incredible value to your business if you can get them implemented.

Implementation is the key! Identifying, Testing, and Implementing new technology across a portfolio of restaurants and ensuring that you get your ROI out of the tool requires a unique skill set and disciplined approach.

Screenshot 2015-08-09 08.41.41

The technology implementation skill set is the muscle that each restaurant company has to develop. It is the companies that adopt technology quickly and get an ROI on the product that are going to have the competitive advantage in the future.

I own an app company, OpsAnalitica, we have a restaurant checklist and reporting platform. Our platform can be implemented in a few hours because it is very user-friendly, and it was designed to scale from basic to advanced effortlessly. More complicated platforms can take weeks or months to get implemented.

I spent the last five years before starting OpsAnalitica doing large enterprise security consulting for Fortune 500 companies. I’ve been a part of several multi-million dollar implementations, and I would like to tell you that they all went perfectly. They didn’t.

The blame for the mediocre results of these projects should be equally spread out to all parties that were involved. It is usually a combination of factors that take a plan with so much hope and expectation into the crapper.

Here are some of the lessons I learned doing these implementations:

1. The most important rule of implementations: START SIMPLE AND ADD FUNCTIONALITY FROM THERE!!!! I can’t stress this enough, you just purchased a Ferrari piece of software. Start with the most basic functionality and get it out there to the end users. Then take their feedback and continue to roll out additional functionality over time. Trying to do too much in phase 1 is the number one reason I saw projects fail.

2. Be wary of companies that won’t help let you kick the tires of their product before you purchase, demand a free trial. At the very minimum make them show you a live demo of the tool. If they can’t do a live demo or let you see the product in action at another company, they don’t have a product that works.

3. Find out what kind of support packages and training the company offers. Use that as a negotiating point when you can’t get additional concessions on price try to get them to offer expanded support.

4. If you hire consultants be wary if they never push back – consultants that don’t push back on requirements or don’t offer their expert opinion and try to steer you to the best option are not consultants. You pay consultants to consult, to tell you that you are wrong or that you are going to pay a penalty if you do it this way. If the people you just hired to implement just say yes and do whatever you want then you aren’t getting your monies worth.

5. Ask for references and know you will never get a reference that isn’t going to tell you the product is great. Use your network and try to reach out to people who work at companies that use the tool and see if they like the product.

Technology, when implemented and being used correctly can save time, money, and drive profits. Those profits and the increased cash flow can allow you to push your competitors around on the playing field. They can allow you to increase your marketing, get better locations, open more locations, etc..

Technology, when not implemented correctly: can suck away cash, steal focus, waste valuable time, stop other projects from being funded or started and leave a horrible taste in your mouth. Technology is only better than manual processes when it works.

I hope that this blog helps you on your next project and that you start trying to strengthen your internal implementation skill set.

Social Media Influence on Restaurant Patrons

Caught an interesting article on VegasInc.com about social media in the restaurant industry and effective it is in attracting customers. You might be surprised by some of these findings. I was.

  • adults who use Instagram has doubled in two years from 13 percent in 2012 to 26 percent in 2014
  • 62% of Americans say social media has no effect on buying decisions
  • the average restaurant has a mere 3 percent engagement rate on social media
  • social media, online reviews tend to have a greater effect on smaller, higher end restaurants

The article goes on to bash Yelp, calling it the yellow pages with pictures and that most of the reviews lack substance with more focus on smaller, personal things vs. the food or the service. We’ve talked a lot about Yelp this year and most of the feedback about Yelp from restaurant operators tends to be negative.

While social media seems to be less effective in restaurants, what they found works best is old fashion schmoozing and coupons.

  • inviting people to try food
  • boast about your staff
  • make regulars feel special when they show up
  • stand behind your product
  • ask guests to come back and bring their friends
  • 90% of people said a coupon will influence their buying decision
  • 78% said word of mouth will influence their buying decision

The article concludes by saying that you need to know your audience. A lesson here can be taken from JC Penny when tried to go the Nordstrom route and not have any sales. It flopped big time. Their clients are accustomed to sales and deals so when that stopped so did the shopping. They quickly changed back. Know what your customers want and make sure you give it to them.

I have copied the full article below.

If you build it — a social media bridge to restaurantgoers — they will come, right?

Not so fast.

Social media is all the rage: The Pew Research Center reports adults who use Instagram has doubled in two years from 13 percent in 2012 to 26 percent in 2014.

But a majority of Americans — 62 percent — say social media has no effect on their purchasing decisions. In the restaurant industry, the Sprinklr Social Business Index reports the average restaurant has a mere 3 percent engagement rate on social media.

That means restaurants would be better off ratcheting down their social media expectations and connecting with consumers offline. Offline word-of-mouth, from face-to-face or phone conversations, has a significant advantage (50 percent vs. 43 percent) over online interactions with respect to purchase intent, a Keller Fay Group TalkTrack study found.

The good news is there are lots of ways to engage customers offline, including stellar food and service, loyalty programs, friendly hosts and servers, charity work and community involvement.

The perks and pitfalls of social media

Armand Iaia, regional manager for the Chicago-based restaurant consulting firm Cini-Little International Inc., says social media messages often are perceived as just another form of advertising.

“Many people are immune to this kind of advertising and do not pay attention to it. I don’t,” he said.

But Gary Worden, a restaurant operator and publisher of Restaurant Startup and Growth magazine, said social media can play an important role for smaller restaurants. Good reviews can boost business.

“Independent restaurants particularly seem to generate a good number of reviews that can have an effect on prospective guests and guest visits,” Worden said. “The higher the restaurant menu prices or if the guest has friends or a special occasion, the more influence the social media reviews can play a role.”

Examine the source

Still, “while social media will influence people and help or hurt the innocent, I say examine the source,” said Steve Nachwalter, CEO of the Nachwalter Consulting Group in Las Vegas. “In human decision-making, there are always internal representations made in regard to how each individual receives and processes information.”

Yelp, which publishes crowd-sourced reviews about businesses, by definition is subjective and therefore can harm businesses if reviews are negative — even if they are unfair.

“Logically, we can’t punish the chef for a mistake the waiter made and subsequently bash a restaurant that has amazing food,” Nachwalter said. “In the same vein, a less-than-great place receives five stars because the hostess is hot or because the greeter made them feel special.”

Nachwalter said he viewed Yelp as “an online Yellow Pages with photos.”

“I don’t pay too much attention to individual reviews because I’ve seen too many unprofessional and untrue reviews,” he said. “I’m not in a position to judge people one way or the other, but I am intelligent enough to know when someone is bashing a place over personal nonsense.”

What can be a more effective method of attracting and maintaining customers is schmoozing.

Restaurant owners “should invite people to try their food,” Nachwalter said. “People are visual, so show pictures. Talk about your staff, make them real and personal. Stand behind your product and make everyone aware of your presences in the space. Make regulars feel special. Make a big deal when they come in. Mention bringing their friends. Ask directly for referrals.”

Employees can help if they have been trained on how to connect with customers and how to give them the experience they want.

“It all starts at who represents your brand,” Nachwalter said.

Explore the workplace

Whereas digital advertising appears to do little to influence consumer dining decisions, customers have a harder time turning down rave reviews or good deals.

Almost 90 percent of people surveyed by WorkPlace Impact said a good old-fashioned coupon influences them, while 78 percent said word of mouth did.

Since Americans spend a large share of their lives at work, the workplace becomes a natural venue for people to share opinions, experiences and recommendations with co-workers — including about where to eat.

“A lot of the decisions (people) make about dining are made while at the office,” said Tara Peters, director of marketing at WorkPlace Impact.

Peters’ firm helps restaurants reach workers during the workday with the goal of attracting new customers.

“When we are running a marketing program for a restaurant client, we will send their materials to businesses close to their restaurants” and have employers hand out coupons to workers, Peters said. “Employers in our network love giving their employees these perks. ”

Know your audience

Despite the power of face-to-face interaction, restaurants aren’t about to abandon social media, which means it is important owners learn to view it accurately and use it wisely.

Making social media more effective comes down to knowing your audience, Nachwalter said.

“The top restaurants don’t offer coupons, just like heart surgeons don’t offer two-for-one,” he said. “Decide what your audience wants, and give it to them.”

Restaurateurs also have to take negative comments in stride and trust people will see through insincere reviews.

Nachwalter recalled one eatery with amazing reviews.

“There was still a lady who did not love it,” he said. “Her reason was because, even though she loved the food, the flower they make out of gelato did not look floral enough. So she gave them one star.”

Dinosaur operators need to adapt or go extinct

Are you a dinosaur operator? A dinosaur operator – is a person who:

  1. Clings to the ways of the past (this doesn’t mean they are old they just aren’t comfortable with change).
  2. Is afraid of new technology – prefers pen and paper to anything digital.
  3. Has lost their intellectual inquisitiveness or doesn’t have the drive to adopt new technologies and best practices.
  4. Hasn’t mastered a new professional skill in years, is doing what they have always done.

Being a dinosaur operator doesn’t mean that the person isn’t successful or good at what they do today. No, not at all. Over time, dinosaur operators will lose their edge as their competition from other businesses and for jobs get tougher, faster, and more experience with the new technologies and best practices of today.

250X250 SI Ebook Download w Border 250X250 LI

 

The new replacing the old is the natural order of things, we are constantly learning from our previous experience and working to make things better. The issue today isn’t change, that has always been constant, it is the rate of change.

Computers, tablets, smart phones, the internet economy are driving change at a rapid pace. The iPad was released 4/3/10 and the same year Square released a mobile payment platform that runs on iPads and in 2013; they released their POS software. Do you think the big POS companies saw Sqaure POS systems being adopted by large companies like Starbucks?  Half of the people I talk to for my company, OpsAnalitica, already have tablet computers in their kitchens. Technology is permeating industries that have remained virtually the same for 1000’s of years; the restaurant industry is one of them.

If you remove computer-driven technologies some of the biggest disruptive changes in the restaurant business in the last 200 years were: cash registers, refrigeration that wasn’t powered by ice, disinfectants, and cans/preservatives. All of those technologies were just improvements on what was already being done. Computers starting with POS Systems, desktops with costing software, through tablets and mobile apps have radically changed the job, and the skills required of the chef and restaurant manager.

I was talking to a professor at one of the top Hospitality programs this week, and I was asking him about Millennials and what they want from jobs and he said:  passionate about causes, they want to customize, they interact differently, and they reject the old ways of doing things.

You can see where technology has affected Millennials with all of those traits. A person born after 1990 has always had: access to the internet; they have always seen mobile phones (the first smartphones were being sold in the mid-1990’s). Technology for them and the rate of change of technology is the norm, and it is not weird or scary. Millennials are the people you see in your restaurant all sitting at a table looking at their phones and not talking.

If we as managers don’t adopt personally and drive our businesses to adopt new technologies, we are going to be at a competitive disadvantage. As our competitors embrace new technologies and start to gain ROI from them, they will be better positioned to grow their businesses and careers.

If you have read this blog and you are a self-identified dinosaur operator, here are a couple of strategies to get you moving out of that category:

  • Get on youtube and start searching out new technologies that you have heard about in the industry. You will be amazed at the amount of free video content on everything. You will be able to educate yourself very quickly on what is happening in the business.
  • Try reverse mentoring where you grab a technology savvy team member, and you have them research something then brief you on it as a side project. It gives them the great experience of running a project, and you get the help you need to learn.

Jump in and you will find that the water is warm and not that deep.

Good luck.

 

How to Drive Consistent Daily Execution

There are two ways that you can drive consistent daily execution in your operations:

  1. You can nag and set reminders for your staff to do things, basically micromanage every aspect of your operations.
  2. You can hire and train the right staff then integrate them into the operations, teach them why you do certain things and their importance to the success of the business.

Number 1 will work, but there are a plethora of problems associated to this management style. First off it’s annoying to have to be that manager. You don’t want to be a babysitter. The employees hate it because they don’t feel empowered.  This is the farthest from mutually beneficial as it gets and you will wind up with very high turnover.

Also before too long the nagging and reminders just become background noise that gets tuned out. The manager will get yes’d to death and employees will just start telling them what they want to hear, but in the end the bare minimum gets accomplished to keep their job.

Recently I was backing out of my garage and hit a car that was parked in my driveway. In my defense there’s very rarely a car parked in my driveway, but it still shouldn’t have happened because I have a backup camera and sensors that beep when I get close to things.

So why did this happen still with all these warnings/reminders telling me that something was in my way? I had trained my brain to tune out the sensors beeping when I pull out of my garage because they go off every single time I pull out of the garage.

When I go through the garage door jamb it goes off because I’m close enough. Then right outside the door on the driver’s side there’s a large shrub that sets off the sensors and then when I get towards the back of my driveway my neighbor’s bushes set them off. So it has just become noise to me that I tune out because they have “cried wolf” so many times. So now my brain ignores the sensors when I pull my car out of my garage. This will happen to any requests or tasks that have no perceived value to the person that’s supposed to act on these requests/reminders/tasks.

Now with number 2 you will develop a reliable, consistent team that executes every shift because it’s second nature to them and they feel that the required tasks are meaningful and contribute to the overall success of the business. As a manager rather than nagging or reminding them to perform pre-shift inspections or line checks, you instead train and explain to them the importance of performing the tasks. Then you follow up that they are getting done. In other words you inspect what you expect.

If they aren’t getting done then you have a training opportunity where you give feedback and again explain the importance of these checks. Show them that you are using the data drive business decisions that will make the operations better and more profitable which will show in their bonus. If you keep having this discussion you should probably find a new manager.

This is where an automated checklist/inspection platform is so valuable. You now have time/date/user stamped audit trail of when checks were started and completed and by whom. You can access the data from anywhere without having to ask someone to send it to you. You can now manage by exception and spend the bulk of your time with the locations/managers that need you the most. Over time you will be able to draw correlations between your best and poorest performing locations. Now you use that data to drive decisions to run better operations and increase profits.

Click here to learn more about how OpsAnalitica helps our clients across the country automate their checklists/inspections and run better operations.