Wow! What an amazing write up about checklists in Restaurant Hospitality. It’s an older article from 2012, but it’s timeless. There’s no better use case for implementing checklists than what the author lays out in this article.
He talks about taking the unknown out of making sure that your staff is getting things done and doing it correctly. He mentions that your own life experiences drive what’s “common sense” to you and since your staff hasn’t had the same life experiences your views of common sense will be different. Thus laying out what you want accomplished into a checklist ensures that the things you want done will get done, your way.
There are some great tips in the article (copied below) about how to go about creating your checklists. Also talks about the ever evolving checklist that changes over time. That makes complete sense as the way you do business today may (probably) won’t be the same as you do it down the road.
He also talks about accountability and if you don’t actually follow up on the checklists and look at them your staff will notice and stop doing them all together. Everyone is busy and if they perceive a task as being unimportant they will push it to the end of the list. So following up on the checklists and using them as coaching opportunities will ensure that they continue to get done, which is what you want.
Now the one thing that is missing from all of this is the automation piece. Being that it’s 3 years old can have something to do with it as mobile technology has come a long way in the last years. It was around for sure, but the devices, bandwidth, affordability, and usability of technology has progressed at warp speeds the last few years.
Conducting all of your checklists on a mobile device and storing the data in the cloud available for anyone in the organization (with the proper permissions) to view is the final piece to the puzzle. Now you can make sure that not only are the checklists are getting done, but who really did it, when did they complete it, how long did it take them to complete it, etc. You can put rules and processes in place based on the answers submitted so the follow up can be automated. You can manage by exception through management dashboards and proactive reports.
None of those things can happen when you are collecting the data with pen, paper, and a clipboard. Right now it’s so simple and affordable to implement. Plus all your employees are so tech savvy so they will have no problem doing the checklists on their phone or the store ipad.
I have copied the full article from Restaurant Hospitality below:
Checklists help ensure tasks get done your wayIf you think all of your employees possess the common sense to complete tasks successfully, you’re wrong. Employing a simple checklist eliminates the need for common sense.Do you sometimes just want to fire everyone in your restaurant and do all the work yourself? Do you wonder why people can’t just do it the way you want it done? Do you ever find yourself saying, “It’s common sense?”
Common sense is a shared understanding based on experience. I can tell you right now that your managers, each and every one of them, do not share your experiences. They have not grown up in your shoes. They do not possess the same core values. They are not you and will not automatically do things your way just because you think they should have common sense.
You can overcome your assumptions about common sense with an easy two-step process.
Step 1: Create checklists for everything!
Creating checklists sounds so simple, yet I can’t even begin to count how many restaurants don’t have them. And when checklists do get drafted, many restaurant owners are not explicit enough about what they want done or how they want it done.
Here’s the easy way to avoid this pitfall. Grab a pad of paper, stand outside your front door and start writing down everything you see on a daily basis that needs to get done. Especially note the things that really get your blood boiling because they seem so obvious. Continue writing as you walk through your restaurant.
Be precise in your expectations. For example, “Clean glass on front door every two hours, starting with opening shift.” Then list the times.
When your list is complete, task one of your managers to customize opening and closing checklists incorporating every item on your list for every position. Remember, you cannot be too specific.
You have no idea how happy this will make your management team. They’re happy they no longer have to read your mind or endure your inevitable freak out. With lists in hand, your management team will be cool, calm and collected when they see you coming. They can say with confidence they didn’t miss anything if they followed the simple checklist.
Side note: Your checklists are never finished. You will continue to add all of the new things that drive you crazy as they come up. Don’t be surprised if your checklists are two to six pages long. But also don’t be surprised at how well they work.
Step 2: Follow up on the checklists.
Now that you have your checklists and have trained your managers and staff to use them, the easy part is done. You will see results almost immediately. I guarantee it.
But here’s what tends to happen. About three weeks after implementing checklists, when your managers see that you are not looking in the designated binder to confirm the checklists are being used, your managers will start to slack off. And once they slack off, everyone else will slack off. Eventually they’ll quit using them altogether.
How do you hold them accountable? To start, review the checklists daily at first. Find what your managers are missing and point it out. Better yet, show them how you want it done. It’s your job to coach your managers and help them be successful.
Once you see they are following them routinely, you can start to randomly spot check them a few times a week. These checklists will keep everyone on the same page for as long as they’re maintained, but you must check them or they will go away.
When you don’t communicate your expectations to your managers, you’re setting them up to fail. You’re also setting yourself up for endless frustration. Checklists give you an easy way to communicate your expectations and an easy way for your managers to know what is expected of them. This way, everyone is happy.