Category : Better Restaurant Operations

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Real-time Collaboration is the Key to Getting Your Checklists Done Every Shift

Real-time Collaboration is a feature of the OpsAnalitica Platform, it allows multiple team members to work on a checklist at the same time as well as allowing you to start a checklist on one device and finish it on another. It is probably the most important feature for driving checklist compliance that we have released since we began the company and we are the only checklist platform that has this functionality.

Why is real-time collaboration so important for getting checklists done on time and why does anyone care? It splits up the work and reduces checklist completion time. Instead of a manager or chef being solely responsible to complete a very extensive and time-consuming checklist by themselves, the same checklist can be completed by a couple of team members simultaneously in 1/3 to half the time.

Checklist completion time is one of the biggest factors driving pencil whipping and non-completion of checklists. Who has an hour of uninterrupted time when running a restaurant? No one! If you are pressed for time, dealing the with the daily fires that all restaurant managers face, with the next shift rapidly approaching, it is easy to convince yourself that you don’t have time to do your checklists correctly. So most managers don’t.

94% of restaurant operators we surveyed stated that they didn’t think their teams were doing their checklists accurately.

Guest satisfaction, sales, and profits suffer when restaurants aren’t ready for the meal period. Checklists were developed to help managers ensure that they were ready for their guests every shift. When your checklists don’t get done the whole system breaks down and you run a worse restaurant.

Lack of follow-up is the other factor that drives checklists not being completed. Peter Drucker’s famous quote applies here, “What gets measured gets improved.”

If management at the store and area levels aren’t holding their employees accountable for doing their checklists, then they aren’t going to get done.  That is what we see in the industry today. Most companies have no system in place to manage daily operations at the above store level, area managers and directors don’t get notified when people aren’t doing what they are supposed to. Therefore they can’t intervene and drive the desired behavior at the store level.

Most companies have added questions on their audits about checklists compliance, but often times it is not worth enough points to significantly affect the audit score to cause a real consequence for not following procedure. This is one of the largest fundamental flaws in how restaurant companies have organized themselves.  Restaurant companies spend millions of dollars creating procedures, training materials, and on training employees but have no follow-up mechanism that ensures that the restaurants are complying and doing what they are supposed to.

Real-time visibility into restaurant operations, critical violation notifications, and checklist compliance are all things you get with the OpsAnalitica Platform, these features allow managers in all levels of the organization to see what is happening and hold their teams accountable. It is a game changer for running more consistent operations. In addition, if you use the platform to track your food safety process, the OpsAnalitica platform will be your digital recordkeeping platform helping you comply with the expected digital record-keeping mandates.

Using the OpsAnalitica platform with its real-time collaboration features will help you drive checklist compliance and run better, safer and more profitable restaurants. Our visibility and notification features will help your teams hold your managers accountable for following your procedures. This one-two punch is what is needed to run better restaurants and helps you control what you can control. If you are interested in learning more, check out Opsanalitica.com.

 

 

High Turnover = Lower Ops Consistency

The number one issue facing restaurant operators over the last couple of year, as told to us by restauranteurs at all levels in the business, is staffing and turnover. It is so hard to find good people to work in your restaurant and to keep them for any length of time.

I’m sure you are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, thank you grad school.

 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs basically lays out a pyramid of human needs. Stating that you must fulfill the needs at the bottom of the pyramid first, food and water before you can move your way up to the top which is Self Actualization. To put it another way, you can’t become Self Actualized and achieve your dreams if you are huddled, starving, and cold, living in a damp dark cave not knowing when or if you will ever eat again and worried about being killed by an animal. Neanderthals weren’t self-actualized, they most likely spent 99% of their lives in pursuit of basic Physiological Needs. That is why there were no great works of art or literature that came from the caveman.

If there was a Maslow’s Restaurant Hierarchy of needs, then staffing would replace Physiological needs. You can’t run a restaurant without a team of people. We need good people to show up, work and take their jobs seriously. I remember when I was a restaurant manager at a large high volume P.F. Chang’s in the early 00’s. I was the floor manager and the worse part of my job was dealing with night shift call outs that took place every day. I would find myself on the phone after the lunch shift between 2 and 4 calling people to come in and cover shifts that people had called out of. Now a lot has changed with scheduling programs and that is great. It was hell.

What exacerbates the staffing problem in the restaurant industry is that we are always open. If you are a typical restaurant you are open at least 2 shifts a day 363 days a year. When you lose a person, and you don’t have anyone to back them up, customers don’t care. They want food and they want to eat it now. When you can’t find people or the people you have aren’t operating at full capacity because they are new and just out of training, it is the equivalent of your restaurant being deprived of oxygen and water. You can’t do anything else. You have to fill those shifts because the customers are coming.

One of the biggest consequences of not having a fully staffed and trained restaurant team is Restaurant Ops Consistency.

Let’s define Ops Consistency, it is the ability of the restaurant team to execute the daily operations of the restaurant to service guests.  It is running the restaurant. It is sidework, it is prep, it is making food and drinks and delivering them to guests, it is menu knowledge, providing tasty and safe food in a clean and inviting environment.

Think about going to a restaurant on the day that it opens, huge mistake. The team is new, they don’t know how to do everything yet, new employees tend to make more mistakes and they work slower,  they are green. The guest experience these teams are creating is the product of being brand new at their jobs.

Take this one step further, you could manage a restaurant that has been opened for years but if you have high turnover then you are constantly staffed with a mix of new employees and seasoned employees, in some restaurants the seasoned employees have only been there for a couple of months. The guest experience you are able to provide is going to be inconsistent and less than what an experienced team could provide. Your Ops Consistency, your guest experience, and ultimately your sales and profits will all go down.

OPERATIONS ARE WHAT THE GUEST IS PAYING US TO DO, IT IS THE CORE OF RUNNING A RESTAURANT, IT IS BASIC BLOCKING AND TACKLING. IF YOU DON’T OPERATE WELL YOU WILL GO OUT OF BUSINESS!!!

Operations consistency is probably the biggest challenge that is facing operators behind staffing and turnover and because filling shifts is the immediate fire that must be put out on a daily basis, it doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, to the detriment to the business and the industry.

How do you make your operations more consistent in this staffing market?

Understand what your Employees are Costing You and create employee retention incentives:

How often do you give your restaurant employees raises or other incentives to stay with you? Executives in big companies get golden handcuffs, usually in the form of stock options or bonuses, to prevent them from leaving. As an industry, we have to figure out ways to create affordable golden handcuffs for our restaurant employees. If we know the average cost of hiring and training a new restaurant employee is $5,864 based on a report from the Center of Hospitality Research at Cornell University. Then we know that if we can spend less than that number and retain an employee for longer then we are winning. We have already agreed that a more veteran staff is capable of providing better customer experiences than a greener staff and that when you lower turnover it gives management more opportunity to proactively grow their business vs. focusing only on how are they going to get enough bodies to work the next shift.

Restaurant Managers need to understand the ROI for every new employee and job role:

  1. Calculate how much sales and profits an individual employee in a job role is responsible for creating per hour based off of past sales. The easiest way to do this would be to look at what a fully staffed restaurant looks like from a total hours perspective and divide that number into an average sales figure over a time period. The number you are ultimately trying to get to is how much profit per hour is an employee generating for your business, it is that number that you have to divide into your costs to determine the payback period and ROI for an employee.
  2. Then calculate your current new hire training costs, employee costs, etc. for each job role. Average out any slight pay differences.
  3. Look at what the payback period is for each employee, or how long do they have to work for you before they start to generate an actual return on your investment.

Once you have the number of hours an employee has to work before you make a dime on them, you will be able to make smarter decisions. Create incentives for them to stay longer, get rid of bad employees faster.  Every restaurant manager tracks labor cost % but very few know how many hours a new employee has to work for them to break even on that investment.

Remember that incentives don’t always have to be monetary but monetary ones will be more effective. Thanking people and buying them a drink or a meal can go a long way. If they make 100 bucks a shift with you and could make 200 a shift across the street, you probably won’t keep them.

One way to approach incentives is to create certifications or levels within their job role, tie skills acquired to pay raises, recognize longevity with raises and privileges. I will start you at $10 an hour and every 90 days that you stay with us, I will give you a $.25 raise. More senior employees get the best shifts, etc..

Be creative and know the actual cost of an employee leaving. Also, carry out exit interviews with no judgment, either over the phone or on an online survey tool. Try to understand why people are leaving so you can correct those problems. Also, if a person reports a reason for leaving that is an improper conduct issue, make sure to report it to HR to protect the company.

Invest in systems more than training:

I’ve said before, in other blogs, and I will say it again. I’m not advocating not training people. We have to train our teams to do their job functions but everything that is a repeatable daily task we should systematize.

Be Aware: The LMS companies will tell you that training is the answer to everything because they want you to buy an LMS system. In reality, training is important but paying people to remember things that are repeatable in nature is waste of time and money.

The culture systems people will tell you that high performing cultures are the most important thing and that you should buy a system that focuses on your culture. Culture has to be experienced by the team at the restaurant and provided by management not preached about.

There is that famous saying ” The beatings will continue until morale improves.” I always think about that when people talk to me about culture. I’ve worked at restaurants where we went through tons of culture training and then the management team wasn’t very good and didn’t live the culture they were preaching.

The reason historically the restaurant industry has put all of our eggs in the training basket when it came to operations consistency wasn’t because it was the most effective way to drive operations consistency it was the only thing you could really control in a multi-unit restaurant operation.

The technology didn’t exist to see what was happening in your operations or to hold your team accountable for following your procedures until the last few years. So everybody just pretended that the reason people weren’t following a procedure was that they didn’t know how to do that task. In reality, it was because they didn’t want to or didn’t remember or didn’t care about following the procedure as there was no consequence for not.

Things don’t get done in restaurants because management isn’t holding people accountable for following procedures. I’ve seen it myself, some set-up item isn’t done at the restaurant, if you walk up to the employee responsible and ask if they know how to do it, they can do it. They don’t need to be trained, they need to be reminded to do the task and held accountable for getting it done.

We as an industry have to break away from how we used to run restaurants and look at this situation critically. If you know that an average employee is only going to stay 6 months would you train them as if they are going to be with you for 10 years? Of course not. The reality is this; your employees will leave if they can make more money across the street. Stop training them on stuff that they don’t need to do their immediate job to lower your risk and cost.

Instead, invest in systems that can help employees become more productive quicker and that also increase your Ops Consistency. OpsAnalitica is Shift Readiness and Ops Consistency platform that allows you to script out the perfect shift in every location. It allows you to define what needs to be done every day from the manager to each job position so that those employees don’t have to think or remember what needs to be done.

OpsAnalitica can provide on the spot training and detailed instructions which will get employees productive quicker and ensure that all crucial tasks can be completed in a timely manner. OpsAnlitica provides you with real-time visibility into your operations so your location and above store management can see what is happening in the restaurant and take immediate action to ensure that Ops Standards are being executed and that guests are being taken care of. Most importantly it provides leadership with a feed of restaurant operations information so they can make data-driven decisions about their businesses.

This is one of the toughest restaurant labor markets in history. A combination of generational demographic changes, a strong economy, and overstepping government interference has made it harder and harder to find, train, compensate and retain good employees.  In addition to the stress of having to constantly find, hire and train new employees to keep the restaurant staffed. The second biggest consequence of this tight labor market is Operations Consistency.

Restaurants that suffer from high turnover always have a large complement of new employees who don’t have as much experience and aren’t as capable of delivering the same level of service as more experienced employees. The restaurants aren’t able to get ahead because all efforts are spent just keeping the restaurant fully staffed, leaving management little room to make the strategic decisions needed to grow their businesses.

Restaurant managers have to invest the time to create an ongoing and increasing incentive program to keep employees for longer to maximize their ROI on each employee. Restaurant companies need to invest more into systems, OpsAnalitica, that can take the guesswork out of running the restaurants for each position every shift and to focus on holding their teams accountable to following their procedures. By providing a system that can dictate what needs to be done and when, managers can get employees more productive quicker and reduce onboarding and training time, reducing those costs will increase employee ROI.

Your restaurant’s sales and profits and your strategic goals are going to suffer if you aren’t able to find, train, incentivize employees, and provide them with the systems that are going to make them better faster while ensuring that your operations consistency in every location is maintained. Ops consistency systems and retention incentives have to be your top priority for the long-term success of your restaurant.

 

 

 

Everyone has a Letter Grade in Their Window Now

If you haven’t heard yet, Yelp is now displaying health inspection scores on your restaurant page. Which means, every restaurant in the country could have a health inspection letter grade in their online window. Make sure you read the whole blog as I put together a list of things all restaurant operators should start doing in regards to this move by Yelp.

There is a great Forbes Article entitled Yelp To Display Health Inspection Ratings On Restaurant Pages Nationwide that I encourage you to read. To save you a little time I will summarize the big bullets from the article below:

  1. Yelp will be posting your Health Inspection Score on your business page.
  2. They plan to have 750,000 health inspection scores posted by the end of the year. There are about 1.1 million food service establishments in the US.
  3. They are getting the data from local governments and a startup named HDScores.
  4. HDScores has 1.2 million scores in 42 states
  5. Yelp gets 30,000,000 unique mobile visits a month, 50% of those are restaurant searches.
  6. “A Harvard Business School study, in collaboration with Yelp and the City of San Francisco, found that displaying restaurant hygiene scores on Yelp led to a 12% decrease in purchase intentions for restaurants with poor scores compared with those with higher scores.” – Forbes Article

What does all this mean to restauranteurs? It means that you have to actually take Yelp and your restaurant’s cleanliness more seriously than ever before because not doing so could affect your revenues and profits.

A lot of operators have scoffed at Yelp reviewers and Yelp the company for years. Thinking that every bad review was a competitor trying to steal your business or some snobby know-it-all that thinks they are a professional restaurant critic.  In addition, Yelp hasn’t always been the best corporate partner, accusations of review placement manipulation and strong-arm advertising tactics have been lofted at the site.

The fact is this, by posting health inspection scores, Yelp just made itself more relevant for restaurant patrons than it ever was before. With Yelp displaying health inspection scores, right next to customer reviews, pertinent data about the business, links to making reservations, and links to the menu. Most savvy customers are going to look at Yelp before they even visit the restaurant’s website.  Because the restaurant’s website isn’t going to advertise that they got 70% on their last health inspection, but it will be right there for the Yelp customer who is reviewing your Yelp page.

At first glance, Mr. Mike’s 3 stars and captioned reviews would not stop me from trying this restaurant, Their 58 out of 100 health score would. 

One thing restauranteurs have to acknowledge is that patrons have always cared about restaurant cleanliness, they want to eat in clean restaurants that serve safe and delicious food.  In the past, there was never an easy way for them to add health inspection scores into their decision-making process because it wasn’t easy to get them.

Now that this information is available, look at bullet point 6 above – a 12% decrease in purchase intent for low hygiene scores, you better believe that it will enter into their decision-making process. If you have a low Yelp star rating and a bad health inspection score, you could be in real trouble.

Another thing to consider with Yelp posting health inspection scores, it’s going to be a flawed process. HDscores and Yelp are dependent on county health departments to provide them with the inspection data. Each county is staffed differently and they all have different procedures for handling health inspections, critical violations, scoring, reinspections, etc..

In some cases, a restaurant might get a bad health inspection score with a lot of critical issues but they might correct all critical violations while the inspector is on site. They have a low score but have fixed their issues and are technically safe for business, it won’t matter because the low score is what is going to be recorded by the health department.

Another nightmare scenario for restaurant owners, you get a bad health inspection score and can’t get reinspected for 90 days because the county is backed up. Who knows how many times HDScores or Yelp query the health department databases to update their info or how quickly the health departments get their data updated from their inspectors? All of these time lags could affect how long a bad score stays up on Yelp’s website.

Normal people outside of the food service industry don’t understand the nuances of health inspections and they don’t care. Click here to see a summary of the health inspections for Mr. Mike’s above, I got to this page by clicking on the Health Score link right next to their health score on their Yelp page. The general public isn’t sanitarians and won’t know why bumpy surfaces on walls or the lack of a thermometer could be huge issues.

The general public assumes that all health inspections are equal, they are fair, and that they happen in a timely manner. They trust that the health inspector is looking out for their best interest and they are willing to believe them. My point is this, you aren’t going to be able to educate the general public on the in’s and out’s of health inspections and defend a bad score, they could care less about all the injustices in this system, they are just not going to eat at your restaurant.

The only way to make sure that these health inspection scores don’t hurt your business is to get A health inspection scores every time. The only way to do that is to implement basic sanitation and food safety programs in your restaurants and hold your teams accountable on a shift-by-shift basis to following those procedures so you are 100% ready for every health inspection.

For years, we at OpsAnalitica have been preaching for an increased emphasis on food safety, restaurant cleanliness, and increased hygiene. To be honest, this messaging has never worked for us. Restaurant Operators haven’t been reaching out to us saying, help make me safer so I can protect my customers and my brand. The reason why is because, before this move by Yelp, a bad health inspection score didn’t affect most restaurants in the country. You got inspected maybe twice a year and probably corrected most issues while the inspector was on-site. The score wasn’t posted anywhere that your customers could easily find, only a few jurisdictions post letter grades in the window, so a bad score didn’t affect customers perceptions of the restaurant. That has changed.

Here are some steps that restaurant operators need to take immediately to ensure that their restaurants aren’t negatively affected by their Yelp Rating and Health Inspection Score.

Yelp:

  1. Claim your Yelp page. An unclaimed page makes it seem that management is disengaged from its customers.
  2. Respond to good reviews by thanking the customer for their patronage.
  3. Try to contact customers that wrote bad reviews and handle customer complaints that show up on the site within 24 hours. This shows that management cares about its customers. Offer restitution for angry customers in exchange for getting them to remove or amend their reviews to show that you addressed their issues. Some people will abuse this, but in the long run, it is better to not focus on the negative scammers but to focus on wowing every guest that comes to your restaurant and to protecting your Yelp Reputation.
  4. Flood Yelp with good reviews of your own. Incent customers to review your restaurant on Yelp to ensure that you get a high star rating. Hand out cards with a shortened URL to your Yelp page or send an email with a link for a review. Offer a free dessert and have an iPad in the store, have them check-in and give you a good review and then buy them a piece of pie or cake. Every Yelp star is worth a potential 5 to 6% increase in sales. My guess is that sales stat is lower for chain and franchise restaurants but now that Yelp is showing health inspection scores, I will bet that those restaurants will start getting searched more.
  5. Accept that Yelp is a necessary evil and that it adds value to you and your customers. They provide guests with a way to learn about your business and communicate with you about their experiences in a more open way than you typically get from a one-on-one interaction or a guest satisfaction survey. In addition, they provide you with a free business web page that is on one of the most searched websites in the world. Search your restaurant and I guarantee that your Yelp page will be prominently featured on page 1 of your search results.  According to the Forbes article, Yelp is the 25th most visited website in the US. I’ve said this before many times, I was a traveling consultant for years, I used Yelp all the time to find restaurants in the cities I was visiting, I’ve never had a bad experience at a 5 star rated restaurant that I found on Yelp.

Better Health Inspection Scores:

  1. The only way to ensure that you are going to get A’s on your health inspections is to run an A restaurant every day.  It’s not hard to do and it is what you should be doing.
  2. There are two major components to running A restaurants. Proper Procedures and Execution. Most chain restaurants have food safety procedures in place and that doesn’t guarantee that they will get an A.  Procedures aren’t enough you have to hold your team accountable to executing on those procedures every shift.
  3. If you have procedures in place focus on execution. Focus on getting your teams to follow your procedures every shift in every location. It is better to focus on high compliance for a couple of critical checklists than to try to get low compliance on a lot of checklists and procedures. High compliance on critical checks!!!
  4. If you don’t have procedures in place at this time, take critical items first approach.  Look at your local health inspections, identify the critical violations, and build procedures that check those violations every shift. If you just focus on critical violations, you will run better restaurants and you will ensure that you are not going to get dinged on an inspection.
  5. Ditch the paper. Most companies still use paper checklists, you can’t get any accountability on paper checklists. You don’t have any visibility into whether or not your procedures are getting completed if your teams are doing them accurately, or that they are identifying critical violations.  Running restaurants using paper checklists is harder than it needs to be for managers at all levels of the operation. Using a digital checklist platform, like OpsAnalitica, can provide you with effortless accountability, real-time notifications, and digital record keeping of your safety procedures.
  6. One more note on ditching the paper, digital record keeping is coming to restaurants. It has already been mandated for food manufacturers and everyone is expecting that it will be implemented by the government in the next 1 to 3 years. If you are looking to focus on execution, run better restaurants, get an A on your next health inspection, and be ready for the future, you should look at moving from paper to OpsAnalitica, a digital record keeping and shift readiness platform.

Yelp has made itself more relevant than ever by posting health inspection scores on their site. I predict that this is going to change how people decide which restaurants they are going to visit by putting more emphasis on food safety, which is good for consumers and ultimately good for the industry. For restaurants to be competitive and to not have their health inspection score affect their sales, they are going to have to focus on cleanliness and food safety as core values of their operations because if they don’t their failure is going to be on their Yelp profile.

One of the core values of the OpsAnalitica Way, our guide to multi-unit operations, is control what you can control. Restaurant operators need to realize that they are in complete control of what happens in their four walls. Food safety and clean restaurants aren’t just under their control they are their responsibility to their customers and their brands.

We know that this is going to be an imperfect process and a lot of restaurants are going to get hurt in the short term as they get bad health inspection scores and those scores stay on their Yelp profile longer than they should due to inefficiencies between all the parties involved.  This is going to sound like a jerk thing to say, I don’t care. I don’t care one bit. Don’t have dirty restaurants, that is what we should be focusing on.  Focus on being great and doing what you are supposed to do and this change will not affect you at all and may even help increase your sales.

One last prediction, I bet that Yelp will see an increase in monthly restaurant traffic over the next 6 to 12 months because of showing Health Inspection Scores.

If you want to learn more about the OpsAnalitica Shift Readiness and Digital Record Keeping platform, please go to OpsAnalitica.com.

Good luck

 

 

Lack of Team Accountability is Stealing your Profits

If you’re not holding your team accountable for running the restaurant your way, then your employees are running it their way.  SHOCKER, they are doing what they think is best (or sometimes easiest for them) and not necessarily what is best for the restaurant. They are typically less experienced so what can you expect?

Over the last couple of weeks, we have done some deep dives, through our blog, on employee productivity and shift readiness. This week we are going to talk about how holding your teams accountable for following your standards, drives consistency in your operations, increases customer satisfaction, and organically drives sales and profitability.

Every day in every restaurant there is a set-up period where we bring in our staff to start getting the restaurant ready for your first meal period.  It can be the most expensive part of our day from a labor cost perspective because, in most restaurants, you have the most staff working without any sales being generated.

It has always been a juggling act, as a manager, to get your duties completed, deal with any fires that inevitably crop up, and make sure the employees got all of their tasks done correctly before the doors open.

This gets complicated today because so many restaurants operate on a model, where employees are expected to set-up their stations without truly being held accountable for following the restaurant’s system. In most restaurants, checklists are on the wall and not being filled out or marked to show they were followed or completed by an employee.

A checklist in the beverage station that looks like this:

  • Iced Tea
  • Coffee
  • Creamers
  • Lemons
  • Soda Station
  • Glasses

The problem with a list like this is that it is too generic, too unspecific. It puts the responsibility and the burden, on the employee to make decisions on what specifically needs to happen. Also, it is so vague that it is hard to hold someone accountable for meeting a standard.

What does Iced tea really mean?

  • Does it mean to make one or two pots of iced tea? If two, two of the same kind or different kinds?
  • Do you need back up tea bags ready to go? If yes, how many?
  • Does it mean you have to assemble the iced tea buckets?
  • When do you make the iced tea?
  • If I make iced tea but don’t have backups can I say that I’m done?

Also, this assumes that the employee remembers how to do this stuff correctly. The one giant lesson from Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto is don’t rely on anyone’s memory because we as humans aren’t great at remembering details.  Add record levels of employee turnover, relative experience of the average employee, ESL, generation z, and any other host of factors to the list and relying on your employee’s memory and decision-making ability can be a risky proposition when you are trying to run consistently great restaurant operations.

If the manager doesn’t get a chance or doesn’t catch that an employee didn’t get something done to standard then we end up finding out about it after the fact.

The problem is after the fact generally comes to light when something has negatively affected a guest. By not holding the team accountable for following the procedures that we have in place, we hurt our customer satisfaction, sales, and profits.

Here is the deal:

  1. We have to spell out our procedures specifically:
    1. To help our employees know exactly what we want to have done and when.
    2. To make them more efficient at setting up the restaurant increasing employee productivity while continuously retraining employees.
  2. We have to hold our employees accountable for executing exactly what we expect.
    1. There is no half following a procedure you either do it 100% or you may as well not have done it at all.

Processes that need to be completed 100%, are called all or nothing processes. If a pilot does everything they need to do to land the plane except put the wheels down, does it count? If you do everything you are supposed to do to set-up the beverage station and except grab glasses, does it count?

No!!!! Obviously, the plane example is more severe than the glass example but in both cases, someone is inconvenienced.  Don’t be fooled, in a lot of ways the restaurant industry has just as many life and death decisions being made every day as a pilot.  Look at the Dickie’s BBQ where the guy put cleaning chemicals in the sweet tea, and that woman took one sip and felt her insides being eaten away by the acid. If a cook grabs expired food and gets an old, recovering, or young person sick, it could be as catastrophic as a pilot forgetting to do something. 5 people died from the latest romaine lettuce E-Coli outbreak in the summer of 2018.

We need our employees to do things a certain way and we need them to do it that way every time. The only way that is going to happen is if the manager Inspects what they Expect and holds the team accountable for following their procedures.

Some signs that your team isn’t following your procedures.  80% of what is supposed to be done by any team member gets completed every day and 20% doesn’t. Regularly during meal periods things that should have been done during set-up weren’t done and you as the manager are running around trying to fix someone’s mess up.

If you are VP of Ops, go read your Yelp reviews, try to trace back the comments to your readiness procedures.  With a little reading between the lines, you will be able to trace back a lot of non-employee complaints to exactly where the restaurant fell down in getting ready for the shift.

What is interesting is that when we leave it up to the employee, sometimes their personality and how they work aligns with the goals of the restaurant and sometimes it doesn’t.

They are so good at stocking their station but they don’t do XYZ no matter how many times you ask them.  Sound familiar?

Here is what is really happening, they aren’t following any of your procedures as you have them designed.  They are setting up their station based on what they can remember or what is easiest and most comfortable for them and it is just a coincidence that on some of the items they like to do align with your procedures.

Let’s use an example of a grill cook. You have 10 things that the grill cook has to do before each shift to be ready for the meal period. One of those items is stocking their station. This grill cook stocks their station every time.  One of the other things that your grill cook doesn’t do consistently is check for expiration dates.  This grill cook is consistently grabbing whatever item is closest and easiest to reach on the shelf and that is causing FIFO and freshness issues.

If your grill cook was following your procedure then they would stock their station and check for expiration dates. What is really happening is that the grill cook hates running out of stuff because getting in the weeds is super stressful for them, so they stock correctly to avoid that personal pain. They don’t like looking for things, don’t understand the why behind FIFO or freshness, so they don’t check the labels.

Once again, they aren’t following your procedure, they are doing what they think is best based on their experience, and it may not be what is good for the business.  In this example, your business suffers higher food costs because the manager isn’t holding the cook accountable for following the procedures on using oldest food first.

The only way to get employees to do what you need them to do, to put the business and shift-readiness first, is to hold them accountable to follow your systems. To make it more painful to not follow procedures, because you are delivering timely feedback and holding them accountable for their decisions in real-time. Also you are now continuously retraining on the workings of your operations which is important.

We know we need to hold our teams accountable, how do we make it easy for restaurant managers to do this on a daily, shift-by-shift basis.

Management by Exception

We need to use software, the OpsAnalitica Platform, to give employees what they need, measurable standards and to spell out exactly what they need to do. At the same time a system that alerts managers when people haven’t done what they are supposed to or found an issue.

Management by exception assumes everything is happening as planned and has a built-in process to tell you when there are issues. This frees up mental space and time, instead of checking everything it allows the manager to go about their duties and then tells them when there is an issue that they need to check.

What is great about implementing a management by exception system is that the system takes on the task of holding your employees accountable for following your procedures.  The OpsAnalitica software is that extra person on your team who has nothing else going on but making sure people are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

The reason you would choose the OpsAnalitica platform to hold your team accountable is because we have one of the easiest platforms to use and our managed service, we will administrate the platform for you ongoing, means that you have an extra team member taking the management of this new software off of your plate freeing you up to run your restaurants.

Accountability = Consistency 

Every guest that comes to your restaurant has an expectation of what to expect based off of the brand you have created.  When they get what they expect in a timely manner from friendly people, they leave happy.  The experience reaffirms what they believe they know about your location and your brand

When they don’t get what they expect they leave unhappy.  When guests are happy they return at their normal interval or even sooner, which keeps sales the same or can increase them.  When guests are unhappy the take longer to return or may not return at all, that lowers sales.

One of the biggest factors on whether a guest is happy or unhappy comes from their last dining experience, which is completely under the control of the restaurant management team.  Shift readiness plays a huge part in servicing guests and meeting expectations.  Holding your team accountable for following your procedures so your restaurant operates as designed is how you accomplish that.

If you want to be successful you have to spell out exactly what you want your employees to do, and hold them accountable for doing it your way every shift.  Those are the first steps to driving customer satisfaction, which leads to increases in sales and profitability.

Increase Employee Productivity

With the 100% turnover rate in the industry and some of the lowest nationwide unemployment in years, according to Modern Restaurant Management’s Success Survey 60% of restauranteurs indicate that finding and retaining employees was the top area of opportunity in the industry. #3 was attracting/retaining customers. #4 on the survey was optimizing speed and efficiency to drive productivity.

This has brought the topics of customer satisfaction and employee productivity top of mind for managers looking to maximize employee ROI and minimize the affects of employee turnover on their business.  .

When you are looking at employee productivity you only have two main levers to pull: reduce labor cost and/or increase sales.

The fastest way to increase employee productivity is to generate more sales with the same number of employees working the same amount of hours.

The easiest way to increase sales organically is to make sure your restaurant is 100% ready for every shift, this gives you the best chance to wow customers and exceed their expectations. Also, being ready is completely in your control as a restaurant manager and your job.

The best way to improve shift readiness is to use the OpsAnalitica Platform for holding your team accountable to be 100% ready for every meal period. Check out our case study to see how we helped increase productivity and sales for one our clients here.

In this guide, we are going to assume you are at maximum sales and you are looking for other ways to increase employee productivity.

Here are some of the realities operators are struggling with on a daily basis that affect employee productivity.

  1. High turnover – you hire employees, train them at a considerable cost, then they leave.
  2. No hand – to quote George Costanza “I‘ve got no hand, Jerry!” The Status Quo in restaurants today is that you have made huge investments in training and figuring out the best procedures to run the restaurant,  your teams kinda use them but it’s hard to enforce, and your customer satisfaction is taking a hit.
  3. Can’t get ahead – you are so busy staffing and training that you can’t focus on anything else.

Does any of this sound familiar? Here are some quick thoughts:

  1. You can’t stop people from leaving, don’t build your business around individuals, structure your business around roles and systems. Consistently move people into different roles throughout the restaurant, this could be different stations or jobs.
    1. Provide systems, a shift readiness app, to support your team and to ensure consistency of operations on a shift-by-shift basis.
    2. Take a more generalized approach to your team, don’t rely on a few rockstars or lock them into one role, try to create a deep bench of people who can do everything. Think Moneyball.
    3. Reward people for giving you two week and 1 month notices if they work out there time, this feels weird because their leaving, but your goal should be to keep the restaurant operating as consistently as possible and this could give you some breathing room to find someone new and get them trained.
    4. Pay a referral fee even if the person is leaving if they can help you find their replacement.
    5. Try to streamline initial onboarding training, to reduce the initial labor cost, and get new hires on the floor quicker.
  2. You know the best way to run the restaurant, you have spent countless hours/dollars training all employees on how to do their jobs and you have checklists/procedures posted on the wall, and nobody including your managers are using them fully. It’s your customer satisfaction, sales, and profits that are suffering. Now with mobile technology and apps like OpsAnalitica you can get literally script out the entire shift for each role by day and hold people accountable to executing the exact way you want them to on a location-by-location, shift-by-shift basis. This is a game changer for running better operations!
    1. You can dictate what needs to be done and when by each team member.
    2. You can see what has and hasn’t been completed in real-time.
    3. You can hold people accountable for following the system and making sure that the restaurant is 100% shift ready at the beginning of every meal period, which gives you the best chance to maximize your sales and profit opportunity every shift.
    4. One of the most infuriating things for a restaurant operator is to have to comp a meal, get yelled at by a customer, or get a bad social media review for something that the team was supposed to do.  You are shooting yourself in the foot for sloppy management. 
  3. I know from personal experience when you are caught in the turnover trap, that it is so hard to execute on other priorities because staffing is always the fire that needs to be put out immediately.
    1. Be patient, power through, and execute on items 1 & 2 above as much as you can every shift, keep chipping away every chance you get.
    2. Also, remember that OpsAnalitica offers our platform as a managed service, so we are that extra employee who can set-up and get the software set-up in your restaurants with minimal effort on your part and keep it up to date ongoing. Not one of our competitors offers this level of service or partnership.

Let’s dive deeper into how we can increase productivity. We are going to focus on efficiency, accuracy, and we are also going to look into strategies to shorten and maximize training efforts.

Efficiency

Let’s first examine a typical employee shift in the restaurant industry, this can go for managers and employees.

  1. Set-up: getting ready for the meal period – Employees are a Cost
  2. Meal Period: selling food to guests – Employees are Generating Revenue 
  3. Restock/Closing: getting prepared for next shift or closing down operations for the day – Employees are a Cost

Everything we do is in support of maximizing our sales and profit generating opportunity during the meal period and minimizing our costs during the before and after periods. If you can make your employees more efficient so they can execute their set-up and closing tasks quicker while maintaining accuracy then you are increasing employee productivity.

The best way to increase employee efficiency is to use a shift readiness platform for every position on the shift, including managers. Don’t just post checklists on the wall, use a system like OpsAnalitica, where employees can walk around the restaurant with the tasks on their phone or a mobile device. This cuts down on time and errors.

Here is an example of station set-up checklist with a help file spelling out directly what the employee needs to get.

Ex: Instead of getting one thing, the iced tea bucket, an employee can go to the dish area and grab all of the things they need to set up the beverage station at one time because you can spell out in detail everything they need to get in one trip vs. having to walk back to the station to consult the checklist posted on the wall or try to remember everything they need. Unnecessary walking around is a waste of time you are paying for and leads to missed items which reduces your shift readiness and is inefficient.

I hope you understand that making people more efficient and productive isn’t going to be one big thing, like everything else in the industry, it is going to be the sum of a lot of little changes that are going to add up to big savings.

Atul Kwande wrote the Checklist Manifesto, an amazing book about checklists how they are used in different industries, here are a couple of quotes to illustrate these points:

In a complex environment, experts are up against two main difficulties. The first is the fallibility of human memory and attention, especially when it comes to mundane, routine matters that are easily over-looked under the strain of more pressing events.
Faulty memory and distraction are a particular danger in what engineers call all-or-none processes: whether running to the store to buy ingredients for a cake, preparing an airplane for takeoff, or evaluating a sick person in the hospital, if you miss just one key thing, you might as well not have made the effort at all.

An example of an all or none process is getting the restaurant set-up for the meal period.  It doesn’t matter that you got the entire iced tea station set-up but forgot to make the tea. As a customer, I’m still waiting for my tea. In today’s world, something as stupid as that can cost you a customer or get you a bad review on Yelp.  Every person literally has 10, 20, or 50 other options in their area where they can go to eat.  We have to be perfect because the competition is so fierce.

The ultimate goal is to get more done with less: less employees, less hours, less mistakes. In real terms, you are looking to bring in fewer set-up employees or reduce the time it takes to set-up/close the restaurant. Even a 15 minute labor reduction per shift will have a positive affect on your bottom line and increase your employee productivity.

Accuracy

Using a shift readiness platform will also increase accuracy. Accuracy is as important as efficiency when trying to increase employee productivity. It doesn’t help you if you cut labor cost if the restaurant isn’t set-up correctly and you are upsetting customers. Once again using a shift readiness platform increase accuracy because everything is spelled out and mobile.

You will never achieve accuracy and meet your employee productivity goals if you aren’t holding your team members individually accountable to following your shift readiness procedures.  If you aren’t using a shift readiness platform in your restaurants and you are still using paper systems, holding your team accountable is a nightmare and quite frankly your systems don’t get done. What are you going to do, have everyone fill out a paper checklist, take a picture, scan it in, or fax/email it to you every shift. What a nightmare and a huge waste of time? We surveyed restaurant operators who weren’t using a shift readiness system and 94% of them believed that their teams weren’t executing their checklists properly or were pencil whipping.

When I was in charge of the Franchise Assistance Program at Quiznos I saw the wrong team destroy sales volume in months that took the owners year to build. The restaurant team isn’t executing, the customers stop coming back, sales start to drop slowly at first but then quicker, all the employees jump ship and go across the street and you as the owner or manager are left trying to rebuild.

If you want to increase employee productivity you have to implement a system that will effortlessly allow you to hold your teams at all levels accountable for doing their jobs. You can’t do it on paper, you need a shift readiness application that will alert you when things are wrong or not getting done so you can quickly hold people accountable and keep moving your operations forward. With our platform we focus on management by exception, we focus on alerting you to issues and when you get no news that is good news because everyone did what they were supposed to do.

Right there, if you move to a system where your team uses mobile checklists to set-up and restock the restaurant. They will be able to accomplish these tasks faster and more accurately than the status quo of today. This will mean that you will be able to increase employee productivity, profits, and by being 100% ready for every shift you will organically grow sales.  Once again, we have seen this in the real world, check out our case study.

A New Training Focus

One of the largest employee costs is new hire training. The standard in the industry is a mix of book work (LMS/online training/training manuals) and practical following training, where the trainee follows the trainer, paying two employees to do the job of one.  It is incredibly costly and it is very focused on memorization and skill display. Any cost savings in that initial and ongoing training program can greatly affect employee productivity by reducing total employee labor costs and turnover by getting new employees productive quicker.

Right now in the industry, we are overtraining our teams. I know that sounds like heresy and let me be clear that I’m not advocating not to train people, but let’s look at the facts, we have had and will continue to have a 100% employee turnover rate in the industry. Every dollar of extra training that you engage in is one more dollar you have to earn back to get an ROI on an employee.

The goal should be to effectively train a new employee so they can execute their job to standard in as little time as possible. You don’t get extra points for overtraining someone who is going to leave; is there any amount of training you can do that will keep someone at your restaurant even though they can make more money across the street? 

The LMS companies will tell you all day long that job and culture training are the keys to everything employee related, and we have typically spent more on training than operations systems in the past because we could better control training than operations, OpsAnalitica has changed that paradigm.

  1. Training Musts
    1. Job role functions.
      1. Grill cooks need to know how to make hamburgers and servers need to know how to serve tables.
    2. How to be a human
      1. This covers customer service, sexual harassment, appropriate speech in the workplace, etc..
    3. Rely on Systems
      1. Train people to use the systems that are provided to them to be more productive. We don’t want people relying on their memory nor do we want to pay them to memorize.
  2. Area’s to cut Training Costs
    1. Culture
      1. I think it is important to impart history and values, but a culture has to be lived not preached.
      2. When it comes to culture hold your teams accountable for living the culture not wasting time training the culture.
    2. Repeatable Tasks
      1. This is where using a shift readiness app can greatly reduce training costs, don’t spend a dime teaching people how to do these repeatable shift readiness tasks other than how to use the app to complete the process. 
      2. Ex: Instead of paying two people to do closing sidework, hand the trainee the app that outlines specifically what to do and where to find everything and let them execute the list and complete the task. Then can ask questions when they aren’t sure.
      3. This will train the employee on how to use the app while actually completing the work.

By reducing initial training time, you lower labor cost, and total employee costs, and by using a shift readiness app to drive behavior you will drive productivity and consistent service. This is such low hanging fruit, any reduction will show up in your bottom line.

Next Steps

If I was your restaurant consultant and you tasked me with the goal of increasing employee productivity, this is how I would go about it:

  1. Focus on creating role-based shift readiness system for your restaurant.
  2. Implement a shift readiness app, OpsAnalitica, and get it implemented in my restaurants.
  3. Focus on achieving 100% shift readiness for every shift, in every location, each day. This will start to help you organically increase sales by wowing customers.
  4. Once I had my role based app working, I would turn my attention to streamlining my training program cutting out unnecessary training that is being covered by program.
  5. Evaluate how long it is taking my employees to set-up/restock/close the restaurant accurately with the new system and look for places where I could reduce hours or team members during those periods.

This methodology has you focusing on 100% readiness first, which will help increase your guest satisfaction, and lead to organic sales increases as guests get what they expect every visit and will make you a better restaurant.  It will also provide you with the system infrastructure to help you deal with employee turnover and get new employees productive faster and with less expense. Once you have achieved these goals, you can then start to look to optimize your labor spend reducing your costs. Basically, with this approach, you will be able to increase sales and reduce costs which is an employee productivity double whammy.

To sum this whole blog up, using a shift readiness app like Opsanalitica is one of the keys to increasing employee productivity. OpsAnalitica will:

  • Take the guesswork out of running the restaurant for your managers and teams
  • Make your employees more efficient and more accurate as they complete their job tasks
  • Reduce your initial new employee onboarding training time and costs
  • Provide you with the data you need to reduce labor costs without compromising your standards
  • Increase your guest satisfaction by ensuring that your restaurants ready for guest every shift.

To learn more about OpsAnalitica can help you achieve all of this, please click here to schedule a quick introduction call.

Creating and Executing a World Class Restaurant Audit Program

 

Restaurant Audits, OER’s, Quality Inspections are just some of the names that restaurant/hotel chains use to describe their location audit process. The names are different, but the intent is the same, get a fresh set of eyes on the location and measure how they are doing vs. the brand standards.

Remember the reason you conduct restaurant audits is that you need to protect your brand from yourself. Poor operations or unsafe restaurants can erode brand equity and lower sales for the entire chain. Food Safety is of paramount importance, and with our current social media-driven culture a foodborne illness outbreak can spread like bacteria over the web and can reduce sales by about 1/3 nationally and keep them there indefinitely.

For some chains, especially franchise systems, the conducting of the restaurant audit may be one of the few times a year a representative from the corporate office will visit the location so it can’t be overstated that you don’t want to waste that visit with an ineffective audit program.

When designing or updating your audit program, there are a couple of questions that you want to answer first.

  1. What technology are you going to use to conduct these audits?
  2. What are you looking to get out of your audits?
  3. How often are you going to be visiting the locations?
  4. Who is going to be conducting the audit?
  5. How comprehensive, how much stuff are we going to cover, in the audit?
  6. How long do you expect this audit and any subsequent coaching to take?
  7. How are you going to handle action plan items?
  8. Have you thought about Site Visits?

1. What technology are you going to use to conduct these audits?
You do not want to do your audits on paper, Google Docs or a combination of paper/Excel for scoring. Your audit is one of the most important interactions you have with the location, and you need to make sure you are capturing as much data as possible at the question level including photos and auditor comments and paper and excel are not made for this.

We have heard from some of our clients that have switched from paper to the OpsAnalitica Platform that we have cut their audit times by 75%, in most cases this results in several hours of busy work per audit. This reduction in needless paper pushing provides your auditor more time to interact with the restaurant teams coaching and training or if that isn’t their role it allows them to conduct more audits per day.

These are some features that you should be looking for when choosing auditing software.

  • Tablet/Phone/Laptop based software – you will use mobile devices to conduct the audit, but most people will want to use their computers to plan and manage themselves.
  • Geolocation – the ability to know that the auditor was on-site when conducting the audit.
  • Able to inspect offline – you won’t always have wifi at the location
  • Ability to take pictures
  • Ability to leave additional comments at the question level
  • Auditor Help Functionality – where an auditor can get more information about the standard at which a question is being judged or easily share the corporate standard with the location management team.
  • Flexible scoring
  • Tagging – question, and response tagging aids in deep dive analysis of the audit results.
  • Audit Report – this needs to be auto-generated by the system, printable is fine, but an online version is better as audit reports with photos and comments can be very long, and you want to make sure that people can enlarge the photos.
  • Action Plan Tasks that can be tracked and verified.
  • Auditor Functionality that allows them to plan their audits effectively
  • Reports that allow you to compare auditors to chain for auditor calibration
  • Gap and Question level reporting where you can look at the audit results across the organization to identify Operations issues that need to be addressed.
  • API – to pull app data out of the system and use in other BI tools.

To wrap of the technology portion of this blog, you want the technology you choose to be robust but also easy to use and bulletproof. When people are in the locations, they need to be able inspect and not be screwing around with their tech. Your field teams need a platform that will assist them in the planning, conducting, and follow-up stages of their audits. That provides them and the management teams their auditing with a seamless experience. From a corporate perspective, you want the software you choose to be flexible, easy to update, and you should be looking for a software partner that can work with you to refine your process over time.

2. What are you looking to get out of your audits?
We have found that a lot of people don’t have an answer to this question.

  • Are audits just an excuse for sending the field teams to the restaurants?
  • Are you looking to capture operations data so you can refine your internal procedures and run better restaurant operations chain-wide?
  • Are you just concerned with food safety or adherence to brand standards?
  • Are you auditing because that is what we do, but you don’t use the data unless an individual restaurant needs to be shut down for violations?

It’s ok, based off of your business model to subscribe to any of the above or something else. I would suggest that you get clear with your team about your stated audit goals. I am a firm believer that you should be auditing to collect data on your restaurants and to use that data to identify locations that put the brand at risk and to drive system-wide operational changes.

You should know what kind of results you want from the audits you are conducting because the answer should influence every other question.

3. How often are you going to be visiting the locations?
Audit frequency is a determining factor in a lot of different parts of your audit program. The fewer times a year you plan on visiting a location, the more comprehensive your audit should be. If you are going to be visiting more often, then you can have a shorter inspection, or you can vary certain sections of your audit so that you look at core critical issues every time and less important sections alternate between different visits.

Most restaurant chains that we have worked with audit between 1 and 4 times a year. Chipotle for instance is auditing 12 times a year, though we haven’t heard many restaurant companies conducting that many audits per year.

We have worked up a use case that can save a company a lot of money if they use daily checklists to augment their auditing program, they can conduct fewer audits per year on the top 20% of their restaurants without sacrificing brand protection or overwhelm their field teams. If you want to learn more about that, schedule a short call here.

Two other factors to keep in mind when determining how often you are going to be visiting.
1. How complicated are your operations? If you are a quick service chain with a minimal amount of on-site prep, examples would be a sandwich or ice cream chain; then you may determine that fewer audits are fine for your business because you have less risk based on the simplicity of your food prep and model.

Whereas if you are a full-service restaurant that is prepping most of your food on-site, you incur more food safety and quality risks, and therefore it may warrant more audits.

2. What is your geographic footprint? Are your restaurants in one city or are they spread out around the country? Are your auditors going to be traveling to audit the restaurants, incurring travel expenses for each restaurant they visit or do they live in their territory and can just drive to their locations to conduct the audit?

Travel expenses should be factored into determining auditing frequency. In some cases, it may make more sense to use 3rd party auditors when travel expenses dictate. This can also be affected by who is conducting the audit and what their role in the company is.

4. Who is going to be conducting the audit?

We have found that there are people in 3 different roles conducting audits in restaurants, they all have their pros and cons:

  • Field team member: usually an area manager or director.
  • Dedicated QA person: this person works for the brand, and their whole job is to conduct audits.
  • 3rd Party Auditor: like Steritech of EcoSure

Field team members are usually directly responsible for the restaurants they are auditing.  This is a very cost-effective model because the person is already on the team, they have intimate knowledge of the restaurants, and they are well versed in the operating standards of the chain, which allows them to audit and coach as they go.

The cons of using your field team to audit are that they aren’t impartial and there are inherent conflicts of interest in their scoring. For instance, a field team members performance is often tied to their patch of restaurants.  So by being completely honest and scoring restaurants appropriately, especially if the restaurant is underperforming, that score can reflect poorly on the field team members ability to manage their territory. In some cases, this could affect their take-home pay or bonus.

We know of many chains, Focus Brands and Quiznos for instance, where auditing is a small part of the field team members job.  A lot of their job is more sales related, selling franchisees on upgrades to systems, technology, remodels, etc..  Or just selling the franchisee on following the brand standards.  If your job is to sell and to audit, there is another conflict of interest where doing both parts of your job are at odds with each other, and most people will choose the path of least resistance.

Whenever you have conflicts of interest with your auditors, you can expect to get inaccurate audit scores, with the scores skewing up.  The problem with this is that you will have a false sense of security when it comes to the operational readiness and food safety aspects of your chain. You could believe everything is fine and then be blindsided by an issue.  Remember with data; garbage in is garbage out.

Dedicated QA people are a great way to combat the inherent conflicts of interest with using your field team people to conduct audits as QA people aren’t tied to the operating metrics of the restaurants they inspect.

The biggest cons to using QA people is that they often aren’t able to coach or train as well because they aren’t operators they are QA people.  There is also the inherent cost of having QA people on your payroll, having dedicated people who just inspect increases your audit costs in a lot of cases because you will still be sending your field teams to visit the restaurants.

3rd party inspectors are probably slightly less independent than QA people and more expensive per audit.  3rd party inspection services, like Steritech, field highly trained auditing teams that go around the country inspecting many different kinds of restaurants.  Because they have sophisticated equipment and training, they are very good at auditing.  Plus Steritech calibrates their auditors to brand standards and keeps them honest.

They can be very expensive, several hundred dollars per audit. You have to take cost into account when deciding to use a 3rd party vs. your own resources.  We have heard that Yum uses 3rd party auditors and pays for the initial quarterly inspection but if a unit fails the inspection, then the franchisee has to pay for a reinspection.

I’ve always been suspicious that 3rd party auditors could skew scores to ensure that their company keeps the contract. I don’t have any evidence of this and I’m sure the 3rd party auditing firms control this but there is an incentive to tell corporate what the want to hear so that they keep using the 3rd party firm.

5. How comprehensive, how much stuff are we going to cover, in the audit?

This goes back to everything we have discussed so far.  What are you going to do with the data, how often are you going to audit, and who is going to be conducting the audit?

You have to decide for yourself and your goals about how comprehensive your audit is going to be.  Here are some things that definitely should be in a comprehensive audit.

  • Food Safety – a must have for audits
    • This should include checking for all critical health violations.
      • Dishwashing – Dishmachine rinse and chemicals or 3 compartment sinks
      • Sanitizer Buckers
      • Handsinks
      • Proper food storage both dry and in the coolers
      • Labels on all food
      • Dumpster areas and rodent control
      • TEMPERATURES!!!!!!!
  • Restaurant Cleanliness and Maintenance – speaks to brand standards
    • General restaurant cleanliness
    • Wear and tear on building
      • Obvious signs of damage
      • Lack of upkeep
    • Bathrooms and dining areas
    • Kitchen cleanliness and organization
  • Food Taste
    • Pick random items, especially if they are prepared on-site and taste test.
    • Tasting food reduces comps when you catch your own mistakes.
  • Brand standards
    • Menu boards and POP
    • Guest service – observe transactions and rate the service provided
  • Administration
    • Proper employment records for all employees
    • Checklists and food safety documentation
      • Food safety documentation is one that often gets overlooked and not having this should cause a massive hit to audit score.
      • We have a pencil whipping problem in the US when it comes to food safety documentation, and it is unacceptable.
      • If you ever get someone sick at a restaurant, it is your documented adherence to food safety procedures that will give you the best chance of limiting your liability.  The FDA subpoenaed all of Chipotle’s logs a couple of years ago.  When you can’t supply that documentation, you are basically admitting to not following established best practices for food safety and therefore are more guilty.
      • You can effortlessly track and keep all your food safety records, track checklist compliance, and more if you use the OpsAnalitica Platform for daily checklists.
    • Required Employment Signage
    • Food Safety Certification Training

6. How long do you expect this audit and any subsequent coaching to take?

Audit time needs to be understood for planning reasons.  How many audits can you do a day? How many audits are you expected to do a month or a quarter?

We ran some numbers for a time savings business case a couple of years ago, and it is staggering how quickly audit time can add up.  As an example, if you can save 2 hours per audit and you do ten audits per month, that ends up being six weeks of time saved at the end of the year.

Understand for yourself how long these are expected to take so you can properly plan your audit program and make sure that your team can conduct their audits and do their other job functions if applicable.

7. How are you going to handle action plan items?

This is probably the most important part of auditing, and subsequently, one of the hardest things for auditors to do is to manage all of the action plan items that are created on audits. Action Plan items speak directly to the legal concepts of Due Diligence and Due Care.

In very lay terms, due diligence is doing your audit, self-policing your locations to make sure they are operating up to your brand and food safety standards.  Due care means having a plan in place to handle deficiencies and document that those issues are rectified.  The problem becomes when you audit your restaurants, identify issues, and then don’t take care of them.

We have all seen the news reports, the company knew this was an issue but didn’t do anything to fix it.  Knowing but not fixing greatly increases your liability but more importantly plays horribly in the media if it ever comes to that.

The basics for handling action plan items are:

  1. You have to identify action plan items.
  2. You should create one action plan task per item to ensure that all are handled.
  3. Assign the responsibility of rectifying the item to a person(s).
  4. Assign a due date for when the issue needs to be fixed.
  5. Verify, usually through pictures or re-inspection, that the item has been fixed.
  6. Document all of this in case the issue you identified caused someone harm.

Following up on action plan items is best accomplished by a task management program.  You can use email if you don’t have a task management program but email is very lax on enforcement, and you are more prone to miss action plan items.

We hear from our clients and prospective clients that completing action plan items is one of the hardest things they have to deal with because often time the auditor has moved on to their next audit and aren’t at the restaurant to supervise. Obviously, if you do several audits a week and you identify multiple issues per audit, it starts to add up very quickly.

I don’t know how other software platforms handle this but we have an explicit action plan task that can be created off an inspection report and links back to the item. You can track all of your action plan tasks in your inbox and you are notified as they are completed or if they are late.

It is great to have people fix their audit issues on the spot when possible.  Just like using tasks, you need a way to document the fix for reporting purposes. In our system, if you don’t want to create a task you can add additional photos and comments on the inspection report for documentation purposes.

Put together a system that allows you to easily assign and track that each deficiency that you identify is fixed in an appropriate time frame.  You open yourself up to a lot of liability if you can’t ensure that items are being fixed.

8. Have you thought about Site Visits?

There are three levels of operations inspections that chains should be doing to drive better operations.

  1. Audits: used to identify operating trends and restaurant performance
  2. Site Visits: quick critical only focused checklists that non-location employees complete every time they visit a restaurant.
  3. Daily Checklists: used to drive behavior and to document food safety procedures on a daily basis.

Site visits are seldom used and recorded by most major chains, I believe that their audit software doesn’t do a great job of facilitating multiple inspections, and this is a huge mistake.  Site visits are 10 to 15 question checklists that focus on the most critical operating standards from a FOH/BOH perspective.  They should be completed everytime a person from the restaurant chain, that doesn’t work at the location, visits the restaurant.

Site visits provide the following benefits:

  1. You collect more operations data:
    1. These are quick and take place at different times of the day so you can get interesting data about how well the restaurant is operating during the rush or right after.
  2. More flexible than audits:
    1. You don’t want to be changing your audits to constantly reflect current operational priorities because this dilutes their historic relevance. Instead, you can use site visits to gauge how well the restaurants are doing on current operational initiatives.

Using site visits in conjunction with your Audit program will help you understand how the restaurant is performing in between audits and provides very interesting operations data. It also allows you to identify and quickly address critical issues.

In conclusion, auditing is about protecting your brand from yourself. It is about ensuring that your restaurants are operating at or above standard. Audits are about teaching and coaching your team members, providing feedback, and holding people accountable.

Restaurant Audits are an integral part of managing multi-unit restaurant and hotel chains.  They provide us with a report card on how we are doing.  I highly encourage you to review your audit process using some of the standards I highlighted in this post. If you are looking for consulting assistance to review your audit program or restaurant audit software to conduct your audits on, please feel free to schedule a call with us at OpsAnalitica by clicking here.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss what you are currently doing, show you how our software could help you optimize your process, and to give you a quote.

 

 

 

The number one metric driving cloud software is…

It’s called Customer Success, and it’s going to be one of the major forces—perhaps the overall #1 driver—that will reshape the cloud-computing industry in 2018. Bob Evans

Bob Evans recently wrote a great article in Forbes about Customer Success and how it is one of the biggest drivers for cloud companies.  I highly recommend that your read the full article entitled: Why Salesforce.com, Workday And ServiceNow Are Obsessing Over This New Cloud Metric by clicking here.

Before I get into a high-level recap of the article, we at OpsAnalitica have known about the importance of customer success from day 1. That is why we offer the OpsAnalitica Managed Service and we are the only restaurant checklist and audit platform who does this.

Meaning we’ll administrate the platform for you and we do that for the same price our competitors charge to leave you swinging in the wind. You cannot find a partner that is more committed to your success than us because we’ll manage the software for you, if you want.

Article Recap

Bob quickly covers the history of enterprise software.

  1. In the past: 5 years ago, a software company sold you some software. You paid for it and it was your responsibility to get it to work in your environment which is where 90% of software problems occurred.
  2. Cloud computing: now you pay for a subscription to software, the software company does everything you used to do for you, like installing, hosting, managing, uptime etc. That is why everyone wants you to pay for the software every month because they are incurring costs on your behalf monthly.  Gone are the days that you bought software once and never paid for it again.
  3. Just having software in the cloud that is working all the time isn’t enough. Cloud companies have to focus on delivering the ROI that they promised when they sold you and that is Customer Success.

A customer success focus is a natural evolution of cloud computing.  Cloud computing solved getting the software to work and now we are turning our attention to getting you a return on your investment which should have been everyone’s focus from day 1.

The article goes on to interview several CEO’s and speaks with them about their takes on customer success.

I’m going to wrap up with this.  Your software vendors are your partners.  You are entrusting them with your information and they are promising you a return on your investment that will make your business better.  Hold your vendors accountable, choose your vendors wisely, and remember that we work for you.

I know that a lot of people miss the good old days when you could buy some software and you only paid for it once.  I think a lot of those people don’t remember how hard it was to get the software up and running and to keep it working.  I’m going to leave you with one thought last thought; I remember that the salespeople for a large sales company used to say, “don’t confuse sales with implementation” meaning your job is to sell at all costs and if what you sell is impossible to implement that is someone else’s problem, usually the customers.

Cloud computing is here to stay so are monthly software fees, it is truly a better way to go, and with the right vendors, it can make all the difference.

 

 

 

Finding, Hiring, and Keeping Great People Identified as Number 1 Restaurant Management Issue

 

We recently asked our email list of over 9,000 recipients “what was their biggest restaurant operations issue?” The unequivocal 1st place answer was:

Finding, Hiring, and Keeping employees.

Which sucks for me because I don’t have a magic solution to this issue, especially one that I can make money on.

To be a service to you guys, I went and found some articles about hiring and retaining for you and I will link to them below.

When I was a restaurant manager, here is what I used to do to hire and keep employees.  By the way, finding good employees is easy if you can keep good employees because you will get referrals and friends of your current team.

  1. Make work fun. Have fun with your team every shift.
    1. Have shift contests for the FOH and BOH
    2. Make Jokes
    3. Serve good food at the employee meal
    4. Don’t just include the servers of FOH, make sure all team members get to participate in the fun.
  2. Thank everyone and recognize people’s contributions constantly.
    1. Recognizing people is probably the most important thing you can do, just say thank you.
    2. I’ve found that people who feel appreciated are less likely to bounce when things get tough.
  3. Focus on your culture – live it and breath it.
    1. Every restaurant can have a cool culture.
    2. The culture is set by the management team and employees and then reinforced by management.
    3. Own it and make sure every decision and rule that you implement reinforce your culture.
  4. Conduct pre-shift meetings
    1. The pre-shift meeting is one of the most important things you can do to accomplish the first three things on this list.
    2. It is the only time that you get to communicate to your entire team together on a shift basis.
    3. Don’t be lazy and skip it because you are skipping the most effective team building and retention tool you have.
  5. Run a great restaurant.
    1. People forget that operations are the key to everything in the restaurant.  Do you know which restaurants in your area don’t have a turnover problem? The ones that are busy, because they are great restaurants, and everyone that works there is making money, staying busy, and feeling good about their job.
    2. You can do all the other things on the list, but if your restaurant is slow and people aren’t making money, or they are bored, the reality is, they are going to leave eventually.
      1. If they leave, you are never going to get out of the massive turn-over cycle, your service levels and food quality will steadily decline as you will always have a new staff, which will alienate your declining customer base until you eventually go out of business.
    3. Your restaurant operations are the one thing that you are in complete control of, and you have no excuse for not executing flawlessly every shift.

Here are a couple of articles about the restaurant industry’s turnover and hiring issues:

I know it’s hard out there in this market.  Implementing changes is always a slow process, and it requires discipline and consistency.  It is possible to thrive in this market as well.  Focus on the basics, your daily operations on a shift by shift basis.  Focus on controlling what you can control, which is everything in your four walls and ignore the outside distractions.  Take care of your people, and your customers and your business will grow.

If you want to learn how OpsAnalitica can help you run better operations on a shift-by-shift basis, go to OpsAnalitica.com

 

 

Common Mobile Ordering App Mistakes

I’m one of those people who like to order ahead on an app and pick stuff up and bring it home. I’ve got two very frustrating stories of trying to do this recently and one great experience. In this blog I will outline what I was doing and the things in those experiences that were frustrating so you can avoid setting up a system that does the same things.

Story 1:

I wanted to order some breakfast and bring it home because I had a call starting shortly and I knew I was 5 minutes from the restaurant, so I thought I would order real quick then drive over to the restaurant and pick up my eggs and then run back home. I knew I would be cutting it close, but I also knew that if this all worked as intended that I could pull it off.

1st I went to a growing micro-chains website and went through the whole process of trying to order on their website. I got to the payment page, and you can’t order on their website unless you create an account.

Mistake # 1: Allow guest checkout. Not everyone wants to join your loyalty club or create an account. Plus you can still get their email so you can send them a receipt, so them not creating an account doesn’t hurt you from future marketing.

So then I created an account and all that entails. I had to enter my info, address, password, etc. There was an issue with their website, and it said gift card vs. credit card and I didn’t have a gift card, so I wasn’t able to order through the website.

Mistake # 2: Make sure your mobile ordering works as intended and don’t just test it with an account. Your test cases should include setting up a new account and then ordering and other use cases that a new customer might encounter.

Mistake # 3: Don’t make people fill out all their information when they are ordering from a mobile device. It is hard to type on mobile devices so just capture the bare minimum of data needed to complete the order and then use a follow-up campaign and incentive to get them to give you the rest of their information. A coupon for when you complete your registration is a perfect example of that.

I must admit that the idea for this blog was born on this day so instead of just bailing and going through the McDonald’s drive-through, which is right across the street, I decided to persevere and try using their app.

I downloaded their app, and it required me to register to order. I assumed that the account I created on their website would work on their app. WRONG.

Their website and app don’t sync, and they don’t make that clear. So I spent a couple of minutes trying to log into their app with my website credentials that I had just created before I realized this isn’t going to work and registered on the app where I re-entered all of my info into the account.

Mistake # 4: Have your stuff sync!!!!!!! Common really? I just went through and filled out all this info on your website, and it doesn’t work with your app.

The chain is probably using two different platforms for their website ordering and their app. They may even have a nightly sync set-up or something else. Sharing this kind of data isn’t hard and should be done on a real-time basis. Also, don’t have two different ways to order online, just have one, or use an integrated platform. Problem solved.

Finally, I got my eggs ordered, and I picked them up and ate them, and they were delicious. As I said earlier, I stuck this out because I wanted to see what the deal was but I wonder how many people would have bailed and done something else. I have also eaten at this restaurant several times since then and haven’t used their app since.

Story 2:

I was with my family, and we were up in the Colorado mountains and going to rent a pontoon boat for a 2-hour cruise around a lake. There was a national sub-franchise restaurant down the road, and I decided that we would order online and then pick up the subs and eat them before our boat ride.

I went on to their mobile ordering site and started to get everyone’s suborder, customizing each sandwich and getting drinks and chips, etc..

The website worked great until checkout. Then they wanted me to log in and create an account. So I did.

For some reason, once you create your account the system logs you out and you have to log back in. Well, it wouldn’t take my stupid password.

As a quick side note. Setting passwords on your mobile devices is way harder to do than on a computer because your phone auto corrects and most computers don’t. People think they typed one thing and the phone changes it to another and you have no clue what your password is because it is hidden for security reasons. I see this all the time with our app and new clients.

Mistake # 1: Provide a Show Password option, Amazon does this on their Audible app. It is really easy to do and helps you battle autocorrect.

Mistake # 2: Don’t have the website log you out and make you log back in after you create an account. The proper workflow would be to return you to your shopping cart to complete your order.

Returning you to your shopping cart is completely doable, and it shows that the developers of this online ordering platform have lost touch with what the customer is trying to do. They are trying to order sandwiches not trying to register an account. Who has time to go around and register themselves on different websites? Prisoners do, and that is it.

If you are purchasing this software for your restaurants, keep that in mind, your potential customers are trying to order, and anything that slows that down or gets in the way of that is very bad for your business.

I had to create two accounts before I could get the password to work. This also took me trying to reset the original password several times and not being able to log into the site to complete my order and pay for my food.

One positive thing about this experience. Is that I had multiple browser tabs open and when I finally got logged in my shopping cart was still there, and I didn’t lose everyone’s order. That would have been the straw that broke the camels back.

I finally placed my order; this took 20 minutes.

Then I drive to the restaurant, and when I get to the restaurant the tickets have been printed, and they are sitting next to the register. They aren’t on the line getting made. The time it took me to drive to the restaurants was probably 5 minutes.

I almost lost my shit, but I have a very strict don’t mess with the people who are making your food policy unless you aren’t planning on eating the food.

So when I walk-in and I have to tell the cashier that those are my orders and then she puts them on the line to get made I was pretty livid because I was on a clock and nothing about pre-ordering was helping me beat that clock.

Mistake # 2: The system told me when to expect my order, when mobile orders come in that are ASAP then you make them now. They have already been paid for so what the hell are you waiting for?

I got my order finally and got back and was late to my boat rental but the food was good, and everyone was happy.

Now for a good story. In full disclosure, Mici Italian, a micro-chain in Denver Colorado is a client of ours, but they also have a restaurant 5 minutes from my house. They have a great online ordering experience.

The app and their website are synced to each other. They remember your previous orders and from the app or the website you can one-click re-order a previous order. Their system just works.

They use hungerrush.com as their platform, and I have told them that their online experience is amazing. I have also recommended them to several of my neighbors, partly because their online experience is so good.

To sum these stories up. Your mobile ordering experience is an extension of your brand and your level of service. If ordering on your mobile website or app is frustrating that is equivalent to having a bad customer service experience.

It can even be worse than having a bad service experience in a restaurant because you may not even know about the issue and have no way of saving the experience. I believe that most people would not have completed these purchases.

I have said this in other blogs, but everyone in the industry is selling mobile ordering and delivery as these magic bullets that can rescue falling same-store sales numbers. At a 30,000 foot level, they make sense.

What no one wants to talk about is the new levels of complexity that get added to your business. It’s not just another order coming in; it requires IT, and technology skills, additional management training, and a whole new set of potential fail points both from a technology and customer service perspective.

What I would say is don’t rush into these platforms and services but to do a lot of competitive research and see what you like and what you don’t like and bring people into your organization that knows how to execute this stuff at a high level.

New sales channels can help grow your business but if the complexity of executing those sales channels creates bad customer interactions those sales get negated quickly.

Filling out vs. Completing Checklists (there’s a big difference)

Pretty much everyone that we speak to tell us that they do checklists daily, every shift, in order to get their restaurants ready to serve guests. About 80% are doing them on paper. Of those 80%, 94% believe that they are getting pencil whipped. Meaning that they can tell someone simply filled out the checklist quickly with the desired information because it’s required. They did not provide any real insight.

There’s a huge difference between filling out a checklist and completing a checklist.

Filling out = Pencil Whipped. No thought put into any of the tasks or answers. Simply going through the motions because it’s a requirement of the job. Usually filled out right next to where the clipboards are hanging on the wall with the checklist on it. This adds zero value. It may as well not be done because it’s a waste of time, although only about 30 seconds up to a couple minutes, but still why bother? If a task isn’t going to add value then don’t do it. Restaurant operators, managers, and employees are busy enough as it is so adding busy work makes no sense.

Completing = applying due diligence and due care to the task-list. Walking to each station/area and giving each task/item the attention it deserves. Some items will require more time than others, but if you have implemented systems and checks that you deem important to the success of your operations you should expect that they are being checked diligently. An added, but very valuable benefit to completing vs. filling out a checklist is that by simply walking the restaurant checking items the “inspector” will undoubtedly notice other things, not necessarily on the checklist, that may be out of whack and attend to them before it becomes an issue. This is huge and often gets overlooked.

Most everyone that we talk to tell us that they use checklists to ensure that every location, every day, every shift is operating consistently, staying compliant with brand and safety standards, and to ultimately run better restaurant operations. That is absolutely the largest benefit of checklists in general, but the assumption is that they are being completed not filled out. Our research shows that most of the time, 94%, that is not the case. Restaurant operators are frustrated with the lack of daily operations visibility, especially if they aren’t able to be in every location every day. They tell us  that sales and profitability suffer when there’s a lack of operations compliance and consistency.

Our clients have implemented a system that is just as easy to use as a pen and paper which gives them the peace of mind knowing that their procedures are being followed every shift. They know which checklists have been completed, which haven’t, who completed them, which have been pencil whipped, what time they were completed, and where they were completed in real-time through the management dashboard on their tablet, phone, or laptop. They enjoy complete operations visibility all the while driving system compliance and consistency.

The Task-list Scheduler tells each location exactly which checklists need to completed and by what time. OpsAnalitica clients are able to identify trends and focus areas through our robust tagging, dynamic scoring, and reporting engine that offers easy to digest chain-wide reporting.  Again all in real-time on any device.

If you are frustrated with not knowing exactly how each of your restaurants are operating on a shift by shift basis click here to learn more about the OpsAnalitica Platform and see how simple it is to use. We might be able to help you run better operations as well.