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Shift Readiness Separates Great Restaurants from Good Enough Restaurants

We are going to do a deep dive into the concept of restaurant shift readiness. Shift readiness is making sure that your restaurant is 100% ready for each meal period from a: cleanliness, stock (FOH/BOH), food taste, freshness, and safety perspective so that you can make the most of your sales opportunity each shift in every location.

Shift readiness is one of the most expensive labor periods for every restaurant and shift readiness activites are undertaken by every restaurant in the country. Getting it right is super important from a sales and profitiability perspective.

We are going to go deeper and define shift readiness as the restaurant management philosophy that it is, break it down tactically, and explain how you can achieve it.

One of our clients, Darrin White, said this the other day around Shift Readiness:

We want to be habitually brilliant at the basics. If we do…. we will blow the competition out of the water.

Philosophy:

Shift readiness is a restaurant management philosophy that understands how operations decisions affect profitability, accounts for the perishable nature of the meal period, has an absolute focus on maximizing guest satisfaction and sales on a shift-by-shift location-by-location basis.
Shift readiness is more than just a bunch of tasks that you do each day it is management philosophy that guides your decision making and prioritizes your actions to achieve operations success.

Perishable Meal Periods

The hospitality product by definition is a perishable product. There is only one January 10th, 2018 lunch ever in any single location, in the entire history of the world there will never be another.  Every day our meal periods expire, like brown lettuce, to never generate us another penny of revenue.

If you only get 1 shot at every meal period, you have to maximize your guest satisfaction, sales, and profits each shift. This is a different way of thinking, good enough just won’t cut it when you only have 1 chance to get it done. Perishability adds a level of urgency to your thinking.

Here is some quick math to illustrate how important every meal period is to your restaurant’s success.

  • There are 13 – 28-day accounting periods a year.
    • That means that for any period there are on 56 lunch and dinner meal periods.
  • Average restaurant profit margin is between 5 to 15%.
    • Most restaurants are closer to 5% but for our math, we’ll use 10%

You only have 6 meals periods a month to turn a profit. No do-overs and no second chances!

This equation assumes that all meal periods are equal, which they probably aren’t, but that is ok. The point is, that only a few meal periods a month are going to generate all of your profits for that period. 50 of the lunch and dinners are just going to pay for your costs.

Most importantly – you don’t know which 6 meal periods are going to be the profit generators. Nor are you guaranteed 6 profit generating meal periods, as a matter of fact, you only get the 6 profit generating meal periods if you crush the other 50. 

If this doesn’t create some urgency to focus all of your efforts on maximizing each shift opportunity, you are in the wrong business.

You must use this urgency, this perishability, as a motivational battle cry to your managers and your teams. Have we done enough, are we perfect, are we 100% ready? Because if we aren’t then we are going to squander this opportunity and then it’s gone forever.

Every meal period where you fail, where ticket times are long, where your guest satisfaction is low, where the restaurant isn’t running great, can actually put you in a hole that you then have to dig out of.

Operations Decisions Affect Profitability

Operations are the running of the business, the selling and delivering of food to our customers, they are how we generate sales and profits.

How you operate, the decisions that you and your team are making every day affects your sales, costs, and profits. A lot of the time your team is making decisions that affect your profits and you don’t even know they are making them. 

This is the no-accountability trap that so many have all fallen into. We train our teams on how to do their jobs, we have checklists and procedures posted on the wall or on a clipboard in the office, but nobody is using them.

94% of restaurant managers we surveyed said that their teams weren’t following their procedures.

If you aren’t holding your team accountable for following your shift readiness procedures every single shift, then you are allowing your team to decide how to run your business and how much money you should make. Not to rub it in, but your team that isn’t compensated by restaurant profitability, that will go across the street if your business slows down,  the same team that has a 73% chance of turning over in the near future is in control of your livelihood when you don’t hold them accountable to working your way.

The profitability equation breaks down like this:

Sales – Costs (labor, food, & fixed) = profits

For this analysis, we can ignore fixed costs because a lot of that is out of the restaurant manager’s control.  We are also not going to spend a ton of time diving into controlling food and labor costs as those concepts are pretty well known.  We are going to focus most of our conversation on how operations affect sales.

Labor Costs

When we talk about labor costs in regards to shift readiness we really want to focus on making sure that the employees that you are paying for are working as efficiently and accurately as possible to achieve your shift readiness goals.

Because of the high turnover in the industry, we also want to focus on minimizing initial onboarding and training time by really focus on must know skills vs. nice to have info and to improve training productivity to get employees generating revenue faster. Check out our blog on increasing productivity here.

Food Costs

When we look at food cost specifically in regards to shift readiness we want to make sure we are practicing FIFO, proper portion control (make sure people are using the right size scoops and spoons and not just grabbing any utensils), and that we are stocking stations to PAR to keep ticket times low.

The single most important thing you can do before each meal period is to taste the food before you serve it to guests to ensure that it is delicious and safe, this will reduce comps and lower food costs.

Sales

So much of the shift readiness discussion we are going to be having is how proper shift readiness can positively affect your ability to generate sales and how poor shift readiness can hurt sales.

A restaurant is a lot like a factory, we have meal periods where we are producing goods and selling them. One of the biggest factors for success is that we maximize customer throughput during the meal period.

Another way to phrase that is we want to serve as many people as we can every meal period and anything that slows down our ability to take their orders, deliver their food, and get them out of the restaurant to make room for the next guest is costing us sales and profits.

Let’s look at a couple of common examples and how poor shift readiness affects sales and customer satisfaction.

When you look at these scenarios,  you should immediately see a few patterns:
  1. Each one of these scenarios negatively affects customer satisfaction, sales, and profits.
  2. Every one of these issues was 100% avoidable 

These are the types of scenarios that you run into all the time in good enough restaurants but rarely see in great restaurants. None of them are horrible, no one got a finger in their chili, but they erode customer satisfaction and lower sales and profits, it’s death by 1000 cuts.

Are these kinds of scenarios playing out in your restaurants?

How to be Shift Ready Every Shift

The good news is that any restaurant can be 100% shift ready, the key is to hold your teams, at all levels, accountable to work your systems. This was very hard to do in the past but technology has jumped forward, and it is now possible to hold people accountable for following your systems in every location on every shift with OpsAnalitica right from your phone.

The systems you have already created, the checklists, the procedures, the training will all work and deliver the intended readiness if you can hold people accountable in real-time to using them.  That is where OpsAnalitica can change your world:

  • Script out every shift in every restaurant, taking the guesswork out of what needs to be done and when to be ready.
  • Using our mobile platform your team will complete your readiness requirements on a shift-by-shift basis.
  • The platform will alert management when your team identifies a problem or isn’t getting things done.

By using OpsAnalitica in your restaurants you can get increases in sales, profits, employee productivity, and you will be running safer restaurants. To learn more, check out our case study. 

There isn’t a magic bullet to being successful, it is a relentless focus on the basics, of controlling what you can control, and inspecting what you expect that is going to deliver the results that you want.

Maximize Customer Satisfaction, Sales, and Profits

It all comes down to this. Every meal periods is a new opportunity to take exceptional care of guests, generate sales and profits.  The only way you can maximize this opportunity is to be 100% ready to go before customers come into the building.

Making sure that the restaurant is clean and inviting, that you are fully stocked at every station both FOH/BOH so that when you are in the rush you never have to slow down service. Most importantly, that your food is tasty, safe, fresh, and prepared to the recipe.

If you do all these things every shift in every location and your people are friendly and happy to be there. Then your customers are going to get exactly what they expected to get and turn into repeat customers.

The best marketing you can do is deliver on your brand promise in every interaction with your customer. 

That is how you organically grow your guest satisfaction, sales and profits. Scroll up and read our case study and be blown away at how much running better operations and being shift ready can do for your business.

Conclusion

Shift readiness is a restaurant management philosophy that understands that every meal period is perishable and that you have to treat it with urgency and respect if you want to be successful, that you/your employee’s operations decisions affect customer’s satisfaction, sales, and profits.

It knows that the only way you can be a profitable restaurant is to maximize every meal period opportunity. It holds ownership responsible to implement the tools that will hold your team accountable for following your systems consistently across all your locations on a shift-by-shift basis.

Every day, in every restaurant, you and your team make a conscious decision to do get 100% shift ready for that meal period and maximize your opportunity or by not holding your team accountable you making the decision that you only want to be good enough.

Great restaurants are systematized operations and focus on readiness and service every shift, and good enough restaurants don’t. 

I’ve worked in great restaurants where we achieved amazing results and I’ve worked in good enough restaurants until they went out of business. Life is too short to not be striving to be great. Let us help you achieve your goals by making sure each one of your restaurants is ready to go every day.

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.