Category : Technology

HomeRestaurant IndustryArchive by Category "Technology"

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.

 

 

 

Emails Stink – Tasks Rule

How many emails do you get a day?

The average worker receives about 80ish emails a day and sends around 30.

Email was originally invented to get rid of paper interoffice memos. It has obviously morphed into so much more than that, it has become so ubiquitous in our lives that most of us can’t live without it.

Also, most people have used folders and labels and many other organizing schemes to turn email into things that it was never intended to do, mostly it is how we manage our to-do lists and assign tasks to people.

Email was never intended to be a task solution. As a matter of fact, it is a horrible task solution and the fact that you get so many emails a day just compounds its inadequacies.

If you want to get things done and have your teams execute then you need to use tasks instead of email.

The perfect task has the following attributes.

  • It is assigned to one or more people who are notified that they have something to do.
  • Tasks are one-to-one – ex: deep clean and organize the storeroom.
  • Tasks have a due date
  • You are notified when a task has been completed or is late.

So many of use email to assign work because it is right there and it is so easy to use but it doesn’t do any of the things we just mentioned as paramount for getting things done. Also, email is so free form that we often violate the rules of tasks for speed but we end up causing ourselves more headaches and follow-up on the back end.

Some common email task mistakes:

There is no accountability with email

As we said earlier, people get 80 work emails a day. New emails get buried in your inbox quickly. I don’t know how this is possible but emails get lost all the time, you know you read it but you can’t find it.

Also, we have all used the excuse that we didn’t see an email when asked about by a colleague or a friend why we hadn’t responded.  Being overwhelmed by the amount of email you get and missing things in email is so commonplace today that we all let each other off of the hook for the occasional lapse. Which is fine except for when you need something done.

With a Task system you assign a task to a person, they are notified that they have a task. You can easily track the tasks status and progress updates. In our system, you will get notified of a new task by push notification, email, or internal message.

Burry your task requests in a longer email

Have you ever sent an email with a bunch of to do’s or tasks and then none of it gets done? There is an expectation when writing an email that you at least put a person’s name in there and say and an introductory sentence.  The next thing you know your request or task is buried in a paragraph.  This makes it that much more likely that it won’t get done.

With a task, there is no requirement for a greeting or chit-chat.  You get a description of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by.

Send a list of tasks in an email

Email doesn’t require us to be one-to-one when assigning tasks, as a matter of fact, it would be considered weird if you sent 10 separate emails with 1o individual tasks. This is probably the most common mistake of assigning work through email.  You create a list of things you want to be done but as soon as you add the second item, you lose accountability.

I can’t tell you how many times I have fallen into this trap.  I sent an email with a list of things to be done, the person did the first thing and then replied it was completed.  Completed what? Did you complete my whole list?  So now you go back and forth several times trying to get every item completed.

Tasks take a little longer to get started because you should create one task per request but they save you so much in accountability and follow-up that it makes the initial time increase completely worth it.

Emails don’t have due dates

We all get so busy that due dates just creep up on us.  They come and go and if you don’t have a reminder you will simply miss the day.  You can’t assign a due date to an email, so you are putting all of the responsibility for remembering that you wanted something done on yourself.

With a task system, you set a due date and it will notify you when things are due and tell all people associated with the task when it has been completed or if it is late.

Status & Updates get Scattered

With a task system, most tasks have a status.  In-progress, completed, etc.. You can use these statuses to figure out where everything you have assigned is currently at.  It makes it so much easier to manage when you have this type of visibility.

Also, updates can be tracked in the task program and therefore you can see everything that is happening.  With email people can reply back but then your email chain gets so scattered or you have so many emails that it becomes hard to find the update information.

As I stated at the beginning of this blog, email is probably the number one used business tool today.  It is great at what it does but it isn’t great at tasks. I would recommend to any of you who are managing a team to investigate moving from using email to using a task program instead and just using email for communication.  The productivity gains and reduction in stress will be worth the switch.

At OpsAnalitica, we have just released our task management functionality inside of the OpsAnalitica Platform.  You can now create action plan and ad hoc tasks and use the system to manage your operations.  If you would like to see the task management in action, please schedule a demo here.

 

 

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.

What is Pokemon Go and Can I Make Money Off It

PokemonGo

Ron Ruggless posted a great article in NRN this week about how you can pay money to purchase 30-minute Lure Models and install them by a PokeStop location, which could be close to your restaurants, this will entice Pokemon Go players to come to your area. If you are interested in learning how to purchase and run those Lure Models, click here.

First, off let us answer this question; what the hell is Pokemon Go?  Pokemon Go is a very creative game that uses GPS and your phone’s camera to play.  You go and walk around the world and play the game.  Because the game knows where you are, they put Pokemon for you to catch in your local area.  The reason you care about Pokemon Go is that it had over 15 million downloads in the first week and counting, it is an app phenomenon.

Watch the Pokemon Go Demo Video

The reason you especially care as a restaurant owner is that they have put a lot of these PokeStop’s close to restaurants, and you can pay to have the game bring more players into your area for short periods of time.

The question I’m posing is should you try to capitalize off of PokemonGo?  Things to consider:

  1. Does it make sense for your restaurant?
    1. I don’t think this makes sense for every concept.  Obviously, if you are the Capital Grill or some other high-end restaurant, I don’t know that a van full of 3rd graders and their mom is your target customer.
    2. I think this could be perfect for quick serve restaurants and fast food.
    3. There are a ton of millennials playing the game as well, so consider trying to reach them.
  2. Are you close to a PokeStop?
    1. One way to find out is to play the game or find someone on your team that plays the game and ask them to figure it out.
  3. Are you set-up to handle a bunch of new customers that may not want to stop for a long time to dine?
    1. Grab and go or quick serve restaurants have an advantage.
    2. Any restaurant can make an impromptu beverage or grab and go station to handle these types of customers, get creative.
  4. If you are close to a PokeStop; who is primarily playing the game in your area?
    1. I live in the suburbs, and most of the people playing in my area are kids, we have seen several vans full of kids with their phones playing.  From what I’ve read in cities it is older kids and adults playing.
    2. It might just take a person to stand outside and watch the people playing; you should be able to tell easily because they will be looking at their phones and going to the same spot in your parking lot or near your location.
  5. Do you have to pay to capture Pokemon Go players?
    1. If you have a popular PokeStop close to your restaurant, you may be able to catch Pokemon Go players with a banner or by handing out coupons and not need to pay money to lure them to the area through the game.

Only you can decide if capturing Pokemon Go players are possible or worth your time.  This game is exploding right now but it could be a fad, or we could all be talking about how we are still playing it five years from now.  This has to be decided on a restaurant by restaurant basis. I can tell you that you need to strike today if you are going to try to capture these guys, so don’t make your marketing plans super elaborate.  Just execute and see what happens.

Also, if you do start capturing a lot of business from these players then please comment because I and the rest of the readers would love to hear about it.

If you want to learn how to pay to lure Pokemon Go players to your area, check out Ron’s article.

 

 

Reducing Food Costs and Running Safer Restaurants with Checklists

Busy Kitchen

Back in February we did a webinar with Ryan Gromfin, The Restaurant Boss, entitled Reducing Food Costs and Running Safer Restaurants. This is a straight training webinar on how to use restaurant checklists to run better operations and increase profits. Ryan is a cool dude and we kept it light with real world stories and examples. There is a special offer at the end of the webinar to schedule a meeting with us to discuss your restaurant checklist needs and to get some free coaching. We are honoring the pricing and the offers made in this webinar so if you want, you can sign-up and take advantage.

Please enjoy this webinar on using restaurant checklists to run better operations.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTCdYs5rlEc&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

If the webinar doesn’t load in your browser, click here to watch in YouTube.

We have made several enhancements to the Inspector since this webinar was recorded, to see the latest functionality I invite you to click here to watch a short two-minute overview video.

3 Benefits of Labor Management & a Scheduling Strategy

photo-my ameego blog

Please enjoy this blog from our great friends at Ameego, the restaurant scheduling and labor management platform.

Aside from temperature compliance and food comps, what are some of the biggest ongoing challenges for restaurant managers? If your mind envisioned next month’s blank schedule calendar, the binder of handwritten time-off requests or the stack of month-end reports that show you’re spending too much on staff, you’re not alone. Scheduling and labor management tend to fall near the bottom of managers’ favorite tasks, somewhere in line with changing kegs during Friday night happy hour.

What if instead of dreading making the schedule, you looked forward to it because you had tools, data and insight to build a schedule that would keep customers, staff and your bank account happy?

Focusing on labor management and creating a scheduling strategy can have enormous benefits for productivity, and your team and guests.

3 Benefits of Labor Management & a Scheduling Strategy

1. Reduce labor costs

Mention the phrase ‘minimum wage’ to a restaurant operator these days, and watch his face wince.

Across North America, restaurants are facing increases in minimum wage. Even the smallest increases spread out over years will be painful because that money can only come from one place: the bottom line. At the same time, in many places, food costs are on the rise. And yet, with the influence and sharability of reviews, it’s more important than ever to dish up amazing food and service.

How can you possibly meet all those expectations and turn a profit? Schedule smarter. Scheduling software aligns clocked hours with daily sales so you can staff the floor according to sales, to the hour. It’s true. What time does that June Friday night happy hour rush ebb so you can send home your split-shifters? Could they start later or be cut earlier? Now you know. That’s the instant value of a scheduling strategy.

2. Increase staff happiness

When you find that star bartender or the server who can take 10 tables with her eyes closed, wouldn’t it be great to keep them around for a long, long time?

We all know what’s it like to go a few weeks understaffed. Servers are stressed and overworked. Morale goes down. And it’s not much better when you’re overstaffed, sending people home early time and again, or keeping them with not enough to do and not enough tips to make.

Now that you have insights about what triggers the need for fewer or more bodies, and to ensure you have stars on the floor when you need them most, you can create a schedule that will keep your team happy.

According to this University of Warwick study about the link between employee satisfaction and productivity, “…happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”

And, when restaurant staff are happy, so is someone else….

3. Deliver a Better Guest Experience

What difference does it make if table five gets their drinks in two minutes or 12? What’s really at stake when a table doesn’t see their server for half an hour? Two words: complaints and comps. Neither of them do your restaurant any favors.

In 2014, Consumer Reports conducted a survey about Americans’ most common restaurant complaints. ‘Slow service’ was a complaint for 51 per cent of respondents. Other all-too-familiar service and timing follies ranked high:

• Impolite or condescending servers, 72 per cent
• Tables not ready more than 15 minutes past reservation time, 50 per cent
• Feeling rushed to leave by the server, 61 per cent

With data-driven labor forecasting and scheduling, however, you know you have just the right number of staff on the floor to maintain the kind of elevated guest experience that generates rave reviews and return visits. When staff can not just stop by their tables but also truly listen to diner feedback, they’ll be able to build the kind of loyalty that makes a big impact on profits.

Scheduling mindfully creates this cycle where staff want to do their best and guests get the best. Both lead to a better culture that leads to more of the same: smiling faces and nice profits.

With the ability to access valuable information and plan effectively—not just for next week but next year—focused labor management and a scheduling strategy is kind of like your expediter for growth and success.

By Ameego
Ameego online restaurant scheduling software helps managers create the perfect schedule in minutes and increase restaurant profits. As a mobile-friendly online scheduling program with tools such as labor forecasting, POS integration, time tracking and team communication, Ameego truly is your restaurant’s best friend.

87% of Restaurants Surveyed Plan to Invest in Restaurant Tech to Improve Operations

Great blog post from eMarketer, to see the complete article click on the title – Restaurants Invest in Technology to Improve Overall Efficiency.   “Most US restaurant IT decision-makers plan to invest in technology to improve operational efficiency.”  87% said that Operational Efficiency was important compared to 55% they were going to make investments in guest engagement/loyalty.  

Screenshot 2016-05-10 15.37.32

Other Interesting facts from the article:

  • 37% of restaurant IT decision-makers said they’re investing in technology to increase employee productivity.
  • 7% of respondents said they’re investing in the technology because they want to keep up with their competitors.
  • 5% are doing so to keep up with franchisee expectations.

Screenshot 2016-05-10 15.37.52

One of the best ways to improve efficiency and run better operations is to start managing by checklist with follow up.  If you would like to learn more about how to get your checklists into the cloud, check out our demo video.

 

The Value of Operations Data at Your Fingertips

Operations data are the data points that are generated every meal period in a restaurant that directly affect sales and profitability.  Let’s break it down:

  • Marketing activities remind your customers that you still exist. 
  • People come in to eat at your restaurant. 
  • You serve them food (operations)
  • They pay and leave either happy or sad, eager to share their experience with their friends or trash you on Yelp. 
Your restaurant’s operations: the food, service, speed, perceived value, cleanliness, and safety standards all determine how your guests will feel when they walk out of your establishment. 

Remember we are restaurant operators and operations are our business. Operations data points are the measurement of our operations. Until this time in the restaurant industry it has been next to impossible to capture, organize, and analyze operations data for even a single restaurant location never mind a national chain.

There are two main reasons for this, the first is that we aren’t a completely automated business. We are predominantly a human business where people, not automated machines are the means of production. Number two the technology didn’t exist or it was too expensive to capture the data.

With the invention of tablets and smart phones we now have powerful handheld devices that can be used to capture operations data. A smartphone used every day to consistently capture operations data can feed a data analysis initiative that can drive down waste and increase profitability.

In the spirit of ops data and running better operations we are giving away our ebook, SMART Inspections, Drive Big Data. Click here to get it delivered to your inbox.

I will leave you with this thought. As technology becomes more prevalent in the industry, the companies that can identify, test, and implement new solutions more quickly will have a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Maybe You Shouldn’t Do Checklists

How could paper checklists be bad?  Paper checklists are bad because people pencil whip them or lie on them.  We recently conducted a survey of over 100 restaurant owners and managers.  94% of respondents believed that their teams weren’t completing their checklists accurately.

Which raises the question; why would a sane person have their team complete checklists that they know are being lied on?

A sane person wouldn’t, because they know that it is a waste of time and money.  It costs money to develop checklists.  It costs money to print checklists.  It costs money to complete checklists.  It costs money to file and store checklists and when it is time to get rid of them it costs money to shred and recycle checklists.

Yet as an industry we do spend money to have people complete checklists on paper even though we know they are being pencil whipped. Why do we do that?

The limitations of paper checklists aside, the fact that we still have people pencil whipping checklists in our businesses is because even a 30% accurate checklist is better than no checklist.

Let’s stick with the thought that even a partially completed checklist is better than no checklist.  A person who completes a line check 30% accurately is still checking 30% more items than a person who skips their line check.  They have a better chance of catching an error in preparation or finding an unsafe item and correcting it before it get’s someone sick.

Imagine a world where restaurants employees completed all of their checklists accurately and when they didn’t you were at least able to catch that they didn’t and coach them about the importance of doing them correctly.  How much better would your restaurant run?

If every shift your team checked everything that was important enough to make it on a checklist.  They checked every temp, tasted items, checked sanitation and portion controls.  The restaurant when opened was clean and ready for guests.

Do you think that running better operations would translate into more sales, safer restaurants, happier guests, and most importantly more profits?

Of course running better ops would accomplish all of that.  If running better operations couldn’t do that then we wouldn’t spend a penny on training or any operational initiative, we would only spend money on marketing because the only way to get sales would be to con people to come to your restaurant one time.

By the way, this is what the restaurant managers and owners told us on our survey.  100% of them agreed that checklists could help them run better and safer operations.  That is right 100%.

Because checklists when completed diligently and followed-up on work.

The problem with paper checklists is that you can’t tell when they were started, when they ended, who did them, and if they were pencil whipped.  Basically paper cannot help you hold people accountable.  Also, this is for multi-unit owners who cannot be in every location every day, you can’t magically see paper hanging on a wall in a restaurant from your office.

What our industry needs is a checklist solution that is as easy to complete as paper checklists but allows us to hold our managers accountable and get visibility into our daily operations.

This solution would need to do the following things to be effective:

  • Needs to hold managers accountable by tracking time, location, response cadence, and  actual geo location.
  • Needs to be able to identify unsafe operating conditions and communicate that to management.
  • Needs to as easy as paper to use, with minimal training time.
  • Needs to be as flexible as paper being able to capture different types of information, not just True and False questions.
  • Needs to be better than paper allow you to utilize mobile technology to take pictures and leave additional comments.
  • Most importantly you need to be able to get at the data you are collecting and start using it to make better operations decisions.

A solution that could replace paper checklists and hold people accountable at the store level up through the corporate level of a system could drive better, safer, and more profitable restaurants.

A restaurant company that could deploy a solution like this and start holding their unit managers more accountable and harness this new feed of operations data could optimize their operations and beat their competition by running more efficiently and making better decisions.

Think about the data that corporate restaurant management has access to today.  They have register, inventory/ordering, and customer service data and they use that data to make the best decisions that they can.  If you used a checklist solution to capture pertinent operations data at the store level, which would drive better operations.  You could also use the date with your other data feeds such as sales, inventory, and customer service to create a complete picture of how your restaurants were operating. Remember that operations affect sales, inventory, food costs, and customer service, its not he other away around.

It would be a major competitive advantage for any restaurant system that took advantage of operations data.  Look at how companies like Walmart, FedEx, Nordstrom, and Google use data to streamline operations and generate increased profits.  Restaurant chains could do the same thing if they had the data, which they have, but just need to get it into an accessible, usable format.

How do you do this in your chain?  You should implement the OpsAnalitica Inspector platform in your system for daily operations checklists and corporate inspections.  The OpsAnalitica Inspector will hold your managers and teams more accountable at the restaurant level and our custom reporting and data warehouse will provide you with the data that you need to optimize your business.

The future of the restaurant industry is possible today for those chains that are bold enough to take the first step forward.  If you are interested in learning more please click here and set up a call with our team.