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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.

Using Daily Checklists on the OpsAnaltiica Platform as Field Team Force Multiplier

The traditional field structure in multi-unit restaurant organizations starts at the restaurant level and goes to an Area Mgr or Director, eventually rolling up to a VP of Ops and COO. For bigger organizations, there is obviously going to be more layers of management between the store and top people.

The person with the hardest job in the management structure is the Area Manager. They have the most direct responsibility; when I worked at Quiznos, our Field Business Leaders had around 50 restaurants each. They were directly responsible for these locations with very little actual control.

Even on a great day as an area manager, you may only be able to visit a couple of restaurants for an hour or two. Forget it; if your patch is spread out over a large geographic area, you might not visit some of your restaurants more than one time per quarter.

The area managers role has also expanded over time. Area managers were originally there to provide operations supervision. Assist the store level managers to execute better, conduct some training, make sure that the restaurants were following the corporate standards.

In a lot of chains, area managers are expected to handle the ops roles from above and to be franchise salespeople, auditors, tech experts, new store openers, etc..

The Area Manager’s role and patch size have continued to expand over time, and it is becoming harder and harder for them to make a difference at the restaurant level.

I could write a whole other blog on area managers being used as franchisor salespeople and auditors. Those two roles are in direct contrast to each other, and the incentives are misaligned.

One last point on area managers, they are expensive. The median salary, bonus, and benefit cost of an area manager in Denver, CO is $146K. Now if they have to travel for work or they get a car, you can add another 25 to 50K to that number.

Regional Restaurant Manager from Salary.com

What is one way we can help area managers be more effective?
We need to give them the management tools that allow them effectively manage their territory.

Area managers need systems that give them real-time visibility into their store’s operations and financials. The POS systems can provide you with the daily sales numbers from each of your locations.

The issue has always been in getting real-time restaurant operations data that would allow an area manager to see what is happening in all of their restaurants; this has always been a problem in the past because daily operations checklists and audits are manual and in most restaurants still on paper.

That is where the OpsAnalitica Platform comes into save the day. When our platform is deployed in all of your restaurants, your area managers will have real-time visibility into what is happening operationally at all of their locations. They will know when things aren’t getting done, they will be alerted to critical violations and will be able to hold their managers accountable right from their mobile device.

This is a game changer in multi-unit restaurant management because for the first time an area manager can see what is happening at every location right now. They can effectively follow-up with restaurants from anywhere. They can identify and help restaurants mitigate problems before they become forest fires.

Real-time field management is a completely new way to manage restaurants, it becomes a force multiplier for your field team, and it saves you money. As a matter of fact, it pays for itself in increased restaurant sales and the subsequent franchisee fees from those sales, check out our case study to see how much money using OpsAnalitica can generate in your restaurants for the franchisor and the restaurant operator.

Let me give you a real-world example to illustrate this fact. When we launched Torpedo Sandwiches at Quiznos, we inspected every location in our chain. For two weeks every field person and about ten corporate employees traveled the country and physically visited and audited every restaurant, over 4000 in total. What do you think that cost us?

The big things we were looking for:
– the restaurants were displaying all of the marketing materials
– the restaurant knew how to make the sandwiches
– the restaurants were ready for the promotion

With OpsAnalitica you can deploy a checklist that requires the end user to take photos of their menu boards, photos of the different sandwiches, you can gather readiness data on all of your restaurants. Remotely. You can see which restaurants have done this and haven’t done it before the promotion and then follow-up appropriately.

Another client of ours runs over 50 short checklists a day and restaurant readiness has gone through the roof.  Their field teams know when each restaurant is doing what they are supposed to through the day and are alerted when a restaurant is falling behind. A quick text message to the store is all that is needed to get the restaurant back on track.  If critical violations are discovered the field team member can investigate right from their phone and determine the best cause of action to take.

If you couple the OpsAnalitica Platform with a centrally managed checklist program, where corporate provides the mandated checklists and is consistently refining those checklists to address business goals, it becomes a potent operations combination. One of the features that make OpsAnalitica unique is that corporate can create core checklists but still allow restaurants and franchisees to build their own for their locations. Check on this blog on the OpsAnalitica way.

For area managers to be effective, they need the tools to manage their ever-expanding job responsibilities. OpsAnalitica can provide area managers with real-time ops visibility into their locations allowing them to more effectively manage restaurant operations in their territories.

Corporate can keep a finger on the pulse of their operations, creating a feedback loop and constant improvement cycle.

The program pays for itself from restaurants running better operations and will lead to better operations chain wide.

There is one last key to success to make this kind of force multiplier program work. You need complete system adoption. You can’t leave it up to restaurant managers/franchisees to decide for themselves.

If you don’t mandate the solution then you will be managing two systems, and it will not be sustainable nor will you reap any benefits. When everyone is on the platform that is when you get the economies of scale.

To learn more about the OpsAnalitica platform check out OpsAnalitica.com or check out our case study.

The OpsAnalitica Way – The Secret to Running Better Multi-unit Operations

Introduction

OpsAnalitica is a restaurant Ops Excellence platform that makes it easier to manage multi-unit restaurant organizations. With the OpsAnalitica platform you are able to script out the perfect shift from a guest readiness, food quality and safety perspective.  Most importantly, you are able to hold your teams accountable to executing your plan.

We know that when restaurant teams focus on the basics of: cleanliness, readiness, food taste, and food safety, they run better restaurants.  Customers get what they expect and are more satisfied, which equals increased sales and profits.

What does OpsAnalitica do that is different than what we are already doing?

Accountability; shift level accountability has always been missing from multi-unit restaurant organizations because there was no easy way to be everywhere at once. In the past we were forced to create tons of training and spend countless hours and dollars getting that training into the locations only to have it be ignored when the restaurant teams weren’t being directly observered.

We solve this age old problem by giving upper management real-time visibility into operations and a way to hold their teams accountable after the fact. This control allows management to oversee their restaurants while simultaneously being able to focus on growing their business.  This is truly revolutionary because in the past you couldn’t do both.

Read our case study to learn more about the 4000% monthly return one of our clients is getting.

Running great multi-unit restaurant operations is all about upper management focus. Where your focus is directed is what is going to get done. If you are focused and setting all of your expectations on running great operations, then that is what is going to happen. If you are focused on adding new restaurants, then that is what is going to happen.

With OpsAnalitica we become your consistent daily focus on running great operations, and we allow you to manage that in real-time remotely so you can also focus on growing your business.

This blog is going to explain our entire multi-unit restaurant management system and how it works. It assumes that you are going to use OpsAnalitica or another daily checklist software to accomplish your goals because attempting to do this without the visibility and accountability that software can provide is impossible.

Definitions

  • Centrally Managed Daily Checklist Program is a daily checklist program that is being centrally managed by the operations team.
    • The checklists are consistently being updated to reflect current operations priorities such as special events or operations focus.
    • These checklists are core to the successful daily operations of the restaurants from a safety and guest readiness perspective. They are the backbone of your operations procedures and are expected to be completed on-time every shift.
    • Checklist Compliance should be a major part of your quarterly bonus structure and bonuses should be reduced if compliance doesn’t meet expectations.
    • Common daily checklists: Mgr Opening/Closing, Temp Logs, Line Checks, Shift Change, Shift Logs, and daily cleaning tasks.
  • Site Visits: Site visits are quick critical checks that are conducted anytime someone who doesn’t work directly at the restaurant visits the restaurant.
    • These site visits should take less than 10 minutes to complete. You want them done every time so don’t make them too long.
    • They should consist of only the most critical FOH/BOH items.
    • FOH: Bathrooms, Cleanliness, Trash, Entry Way, Counter
    • BOH: Sanitizer Buckets, Walk-in, Hand sink, Storage, Food Safety
    • 5 or so questions FOH/BOH criticals to ensure that the restaurant is safe and inviting for guests.
    • Site visits are flexible and can be changed to reflect current ops focus.
  • Audits:
    • Audits are your big thorough scorecard; they are conducted between 1 and 12 times a year. Audits take 1 to 8 hours to complete, and they look at everything from the FOH/BOH.
    • Every restaurant gets the same audit so you can are comparing apples to apples.
    • Audits are how you identify larger operational trends across your restaurants.
    • Audits are an important part of scoring the operations of your restaurant chain.
    • The problem with audits is that some chains only use audits and the don’t track site visits or daily checklists, that is bad.

 

 

Here is how the OpsAnalitica Way works.

  1. Audit:
    1. Conduct store audits on every restaurant in the chain on your schedule.
    2. To learn more about setting up a World Class Audit System check out our blog.
  2. Analyze:
    1. Review the results and identify operational issues that you want to address.
    2. In the OpsAnalitica Platform, we have a report that will show you exactly where your individual issues are so you can put together your plan to fix them.
    3. Don’t just fall into the trap of its a training issue and start retraining everyone every time.  If you can ask employees how to do something correctly and they can answer the question, then they don’t need to be retrained.  Take some time and try to figure out why it isn’t getting done correctly. It could be an operations issue that needs some rethinking.
    4. Make a plan on how to fix the issue.
  3. Update Daily Checklists:
    1. This is where the idea of centrally managed checklists come from. You have identified your issue; you have a plan to solve it.
    2. Update your checklists to address the issue.  Checklists are your behavior change mechanism.  When you change the checklist you change the behavior of the managers in the restaurants.
    3. This is why a centrally managed checklist program is so key to the success of running multi-unit restaurants because you can orchestrate the daily activities of everyone from corporate and measure the results.
    4. This is also why you have to use a restaurant checklist platform, OpsAnalitica, to run the restaurants.  The Platform is what drives the accountability, data collection, and is what makes this whole system possible.
  4. Store Visits:
    1. Since most restaurant chains the only audit at most one time per quarter but field team members should constantly be in the restaurants the site visit is a perfect vehicle to measure how well the restaurants are pulling through initiatives.
    2. Ad 1 question to the site visit that will best capture the success or failure of your new ops initiative.
  5. Rinse and Repeat:
    1. This is a continuous improvement process. You are never done auditing, evaluating, and updating your procedures.

What we have created is a feedback loop that uses real-world data to help Operations teams to run better operations across multiple locations. When you do this right, you are building a culture of excellence, and you will be able to slowly and methodically raise and maintain your operations levels across all of your units by slowly cranking down on your own issues and addressing them promptly.

This is how using OpsAnalitica will help you run safer, more profitable, and better restaurants fulfilling your brand promise to your customers and helping you exceed your business goals.

If you want to learn more about the OpsAnalitica platform, click here to learn more about our free trial.