The traditional field structure in multi-unit restaurant organizations starts at the restaurant level and goes to an Area Mgr or Director, eventually rolling up to a VP of Ops and COO. For bigger organizations, there is obviously going to be more layers of management between the store and top people.
The person with the hardest job in the management structure is the Area Manager. They have the most direct responsibility; when I worked at Quiznos, our Field Business Leaders had around 50 restaurants each. They were directly responsible for these locations with very little actual control.
Even on a great day as an area manager, you may only be able to visit a couple of restaurants for an hour or two. Forget it; if your patch is spread out over a large geographic area, you might not visit some of your restaurants more than one time per quarter.
The area managers role has also expanded over time. Area managers were originally there to provide operations supervision. Assist the store level managers to execute better, conduct some training, make sure that the restaurants were following the corporate standards.
In a lot of chains, area managers are expected to handle the ops roles from above and to be franchise salespeople, auditors, tech experts, new store openers, etc..
The Area Manager’s role and patch size have continued to expand over time, and it is becoming harder and harder for them to make a difference at the restaurant level.
I could write a whole other blog on area managers being used as franchisor salespeople and auditors. Those two roles are in direct contrast to each other, and the incentives are misaligned.
One last point on area managers, they are expensive. The median salary, bonus, and benefit cost of an area manager in Denver, CO is $146K. Now if they have to travel for work or they get a car, you can add another 25 to 50K to that number.
What is one way we can help area managers be more effective?
We need to give them the management tools that allow them effectively manage their territory.
Area managers need systems that give them real-time visibility into their store’s operations and financials. The POS systems can provide you with the daily sales numbers from each of your locations.
The issue has always been in getting real-time restaurant operations data that would allow an area manager to see what is happening in all of their restaurants; this has always been a problem in the past because daily operations checklists and audits are manual and in most restaurants still on paper.
That is where the OpsAnalitica Platform comes into save the day. When our platform is deployed in all of your restaurants, your area managers will have real-time visibility into what is happening operationally at all of their locations. They will know when things aren’t getting done, they will be alerted to critical violations and will be able to hold their managers accountable right from their mobile device.
This is a game changer in multi-unit restaurant management because for the first time an area manager can see what is happening at every location right now. They can effectively follow-up with restaurants from anywhere. They can identify and help restaurants mitigate problems before they become forest fires.
Real-time field management is a completely new way to manage restaurants, it becomes a force multiplier for your field team, and it saves you money. As a matter of fact, it pays for itself in increased restaurant sales and the subsequent franchisee fees from those sales, check out our case study to see how much money using OpsAnalitica can generate in your restaurants for the franchisor and the restaurant operator.
Let me give you a real-world example to illustrate this fact. When we launched Torpedo Sandwiches at Quiznos, we inspected every location in our chain. For two weeks every field person and about ten corporate employees traveled the country and physically visited and audited every restaurant, over 4000 in total. What do you think that cost us?
The big things we were looking for:
– the restaurants were displaying all of the marketing materials
– the restaurant knew how to make the sandwiches
– the restaurants were ready for the promotion
With OpsAnalitica you can deploy a checklist that requires the end user to take photos of their menu boards, photos of the different sandwiches, you can gather readiness data on all of your restaurants. Remotely. You can see which restaurants have done this and haven’t done it before the promotion and then follow-up appropriately.
Another client of ours runs over 50 short checklists a day and restaurant readiness has gone through the roof. Their field teams know when each restaurant is doing what they are supposed to through the day and are alerted when a restaurant is falling behind. A quick text message to the store is all that is needed to get the restaurant back on track. If critical violations are discovered the field team member can investigate right from their phone and determine the best cause of action to take.
If you couple the OpsAnalitica Platform with a centrally managed checklist program, where corporate provides the mandated checklists and is consistently refining those checklists to address business goals, it becomes a potent operations combination. One of the features that make OpsAnalitica unique is that corporate can create core checklists but still allow restaurants and franchisees to build their own for their locations. Check on this blog on the OpsAnalitica way.
For area managers to be effective, they need the tools to manage their ever-expanding job responsibilities. OpsAnalitica can provide area managers with real-time ops visibility into their locations allowing them to more effectively manage restaurant operations in their territories.
Corporate can keep a finger on the pulse of their operations, creating a feedback loop and constant improvement cycle.
The program pays for itself from restaurants running better operations and will lead to better operations chain wide.
There is one last key to success to make this kind of force multiplier program work. You need complete system adoption. You can’t leave it up to restaurant managers/franchisees to decide for themselves.
If you don’t mandate the solution then you will be managing two systems, and it will not be sustainable nor will you reap any benefits. When everyone is on the platform that is when you get the economies of scale.
To learn more about the OpsAnalitica platform check out OpsAnalitica.com or check out our case study.