Author : Tommy Yionoulis

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It’s the little things

I’ve been very blessed in all aspects of my life, one of the biggest blessings I’ve received is that I’ve traveled and I’ve stayed at some of the best hotels, resorts, and sailed on the nicest cruise ships in the world.

This last weekend, my wife got us a room at the new Gaylord of the Rockies resort. It is brand new Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center located near the Denver International Airport.

I was sitting at the pool on Memorial Day before checking out and I noticed that the music wasn’t on. The pool just didn’t feel as bubbley, if that is the right way to describe it. Then I looked down and saw a straw under my chair.

It’s the little things.

I started thinking about all the things that you have to get right to go from good to great.

There are a million quotes about the little things. About how the last 5% is what really matters in everything.

Let me be clear here, The Gaylord did an amazing job. I’m not trying to knit pick them to death. The music being on or off didn’t take away from the room, or the service, or the amazing food. It just sparked this idea.

The music not being on just made the pool feel less complete. They had music on the whole day before and had pool parties, etc.. The pool area was alive and jumping and the music added to the happy and relaxing feeling.

When you have a complete experience, it feels better, it feels right, it is memorable, it is great.

Here is the thing, we are all capable of providing a complete experience in every guest interaction. Whether you are at a McDonalds or Harrod’s in London for Tea.

We all have a brand, we have set those brand expectations through our marketing, previous guest interactions, and through our continuous operations.

People always say that the greatest thing McDonald’s has done is that you can get the same Big Mac and Fries anywhere in the world. Same is true for Coca Cola and many other brands. They have perfected consistency. I’ve never opened a brand new Coke that was flat; have you?

What is frustrating about the little things in the hospitality industry, especially for brands, is that corporate has already thought about all the little things, that is their job. They have created exhaustive training and checklists to help the locations not miss the little things. Yet they get missed constantly.

Why?

Because know one uses the checklists as they were meant to be used. Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto lays this out in his book.

Faulty memory and distraction are a particular danger in what engineers call all-or-none processes: whether running to the store to buy ingredients for a cake, preparing an airplane for takeoff, or evaluating a sick person in the hospital, if you miss just one key thing, you might as well not have made the effort at all. A” 
 Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

I get it, checklists aren’t fun or exciting. They feel beneath us in a lot of ways. Senior managers think checklists are just for training and not meant to be used at the start of every shift in every location.

In a complex environment, experts are up against two main difficulties. The first is the fallibility of human memory and attention, especially when it comes to mundane, routine matters that are easily over-looked under the strain of more pressing events.Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

This is where we as an industry have to grow up. Pilots, know matter how many hours of flight time they have still use checklists for everything. There are 3 checklists to turn the plane on.

The reason why? It’s exactly what Atul Gawande stated above. The fallibility of human memory and attention, especially when it comes to mundane routine matters. That is operations management in the hospitality industry. You are getting the restaurant ready for business, you’ve done it 1000’s of times, people are constantly distracting you with questions and pulling your attention away from the task at hand. Little fires keep popping up.

Then you forget to check things because you are too distracted. Some days it’s the music and other days it’s the holding or reheat temperature on some food. Some days it’s the open sign and other days your dish machine isn’t sterilizing the dishes and you are getting people sick.

The problem is when we don’t use checklists the way they are meant to be used, we don’t know which side of the spectrum we are going to land on. We just know or should accept that we are missing things.

You are kidding yourself if you think you aren’t getting people sick. You are. Any time a person goes into a restaurant and then within minutes they are not feeling well, your food had something to do with that. Even if it didn’t really, that the person got sick from their lunch and not your dinner, in their minds it was your dinner.

We have to change how we train and operate our locations. It is imperative that we move away from the reliance on memory and experience and work on systematizing every aspect of running our restaurants to counteract the other forces that are working against us. We have to use checklists diligently as they were meant to be used in every department, every shift, by every member of the team from the GM to the server.

The whole point of this blog is this. Had the pool manager followed a readiness checklist, I’m sure, that turn the music on is on that list. I’m sure having a member of the custodial team confirm that there was no trash under the pool chairs was on that list.

Senior managers and all team members should embrace checklists as the cheat sheets, the short cuts, the work smarter not harder tools that they are. We should reward people for high levels of checklist compliance. Completing checklists diligently and on-time and coach train people who pencil whip and have low compliance. Our research has shown that high checklist compliance restaurants are better restaurants from a customer satisfaction and profitability standpoint. They are better.

We have to control what we can control. Because when we do we provide our guests with a complete experience, they will rave about us and tell their friends and that should lead them to come back again sooner. We owe this to our guests, employees, and owners.

One of the main reasons that checklists don’t get done today is because they are paper based tools. In the world of multi-unit restaurant management paper checklists are pencil whipped because management cannot hold their teams accountable in real-time to getting them done.

To really run great restaurants, you need a digital checklist platform that will give you the tools to hold your managers and employees accountable to following your procedures every shift in every location.

To learn more about how OpsAnalitica is helping restaurant operators run better restaurants, visit OpsAnalitica.com

Remember, it’s the little things. Oh, and they turned the music on later in the morning.

Dynamic Checklists: What are they and why you should care

Dynamic checklists are customized checklists that conform themselves to each location as they are loaded. They are smart checklists that know that each location is slightly different and they only show questions that are relevant to that restaurant.

In short, you can create one checklist that works for every location in your chain and your store level team is always working a checklist that is perfectly configured for their building, equipment, menu, and configuration. Think Sheet-to-shelf inventory lists for checklists and audits.

Why should you care? Money!!!!!

Let’s start at the restaurant level where 99% of your checklists are completed. When you are using generic or non-dynamic checklists you are costing yourself money.

  1. Your checklists take longer to complete because they have more questions then they need for each location and your team is spending time trying to figure out which questions they should answer.
  2. Do you really want an employee determining which checks are important and not important for your business and brand?

  3. Your data is less accurate because you can’t require all of your questions to be answered every time. Some people are able to pencil whip or skip bunches of questions.
  4. You have to do more training initially so that your team knows every nuance of your checklists and their location vs. just having a sheet-to-shelf version that they can just complete without thinking and making unnecessary decisions.

Basically, when you can’t dynamically customize your checklist to your locations, you pay more money for worse execution and mediocre data.

Before you dismiss this as just pennies of cost. The average restaurant management team is supposed to be completing about 2 to 2.5 hours of managerial, food safety, and restaurant readiness checklists per day.

Think about it, you have two line checks that take 45 minutes each to complete, that is 90 minutes right there. Most of our clients have between 5 and 15 shorter checklists that get executed throughout the day. Examples of common checklists that our clients are using: Manager opening and closing, HACCP Logs, Shift Logs, Line Checks, Mid-shifts, Deposit Logs, Station opening and closing, prep lists, cooling logs, oven checks, equipment checks, temperature logs, etc..

At two hours a day, 363 days a year, that is the equivalent of 18 (40 hour) weeks a year your team is spending doing checklists. Quick math that is about 36% of full time employees year spent doing checklists. Making sure the checklists can be completed quickly, accurately, and that you achieve your business goals of running safe and inviting restaurants is paramount to your business.

Checklists are the most important administrative activity in your restaurant because they are the driver of food safety, operations consistency, and customer satisfaction.

Now let’s talk about the wasted money at Corporate because of checklist systems that can’t dynamically create checklists and audits for their locations. We are working with a client and their system administrator was spending 20 hours a week managing their audits and daily checklists on one of our competitors software before coming to OpsAnalitica. This 20 hours was in addition to their other responsibilities.

They had to have several versions of every checklist in the system. They had to have, in some cases, hundreds of redundant questions to account for deficiencies in our competitors platform. All this added up to a ton of extra time trying to conform their business to their checklist program vs. having checklist software that worked with their business.

20 hours a week of admin time, that is insane. The worse part was, they didn’t always make the changes they wanted to because the software was hard to administrate. They missed out on opportunities to get better data, to make better operating decisions, because their software wasn’t up to the task.

Why is OpsAnalitica able to create dynamic checklists when our competitors can’t. First, we were built from day one to be a daily checklist platform when most of our competitors started off as audit platforms. We knew that daily checklists did more to drive behavior change at the restaurant level then audits did and that was learned from years of restaurant management experience from the store to the corporate level. Daily checklists are harder to build and require more nuance than a one size fits all audit solution.

  • The OpsLogic Engine, is our secret sauce. It allows us to create the logic that drives dynamic checklist creation. I’m not going to get into more detail here other than to say that we have the most advanced logic engine in the space today, we are making huge investments to make it more powerful and it going to change how you run your business.
  • One last point about our OpsLogic engine, it goes beyond just yes no questions. We are writing logic that ensures your food safety and quality goals are met. Take cheese sauce as an example: sure it needs to be warmer than 135 but it needs to be less than 165 or it breaks and you have to throw it away. This increases food cost and is equivalent to throwing money in the garbage.

    An Intelligent OpsAnalitica checklist is going to flag that question in real-time and provide the employee with directions, “Cheese sauce too warm, in danger of breaking, reduce temp immediately, take photo to document”. By the way that corrective action is required.

    One of the phrases we use a lot over here at OpsAnalitica is “We take the guesswork out of running the restaurants.” This has never been more true with our Dynamic Checklist creation and OpsLogic engine. To learn more about what we can do to help you run your business and to get a pricing quote, please fill out this form.


    Chipotle Still Doesn’t Have a Food Safety Culture

    There were two interesting articles about Chipotle last week:

    1. MMA announcer Jimmy Smith says he found ‘full-sized staples’ in Chipotle burrito
    2. Chipotle’s stock is having its best quarter ever—here’s how to play it

    Chipotle’s stock is getting back up to where it was before their food safety issues in 2015 and 2016. It has been a hard slogging road for them to get back. They ousted their founder and CEO, the brought in the Taco Bell CEO, this is funny and I’ll explain more later. They have continued to have food safety issues.

    A quick history of our interactions with Chipotle.

    In 2014 I met with a buddy of mine who was the first outside director in Chipotle’s history. He and I had worked to together before and he had just come from Taco Bell to Chipotle. We had just launched version 1 of our platform, it wasn’t even called OpsAnalitica yet, and I was telling him how he should bring this to Chipotle and let them see what it could do for their business.

    He point blank told me he couldn’t. That Chipotle wasn’t a traditional restaurant company and they didn’t believe in checklists. Chipotle believed that if we hire the right people, train them to do the right things, that we don’t need checklists. He went on to say that if he brought our software to his bosses that he would get run out of there for trying to turn Chipotle in to Taco Bell. Now Brian Niccol is very slowly turning Chipotle into Taco Bell, that is what I thought was funny.

    Obviously in 2015, 2016, 2018 Chipotle had major food borne illness issues. I interviewed a former Chipotle manager on our podcast, A Passion for Restaurant Operations, and he confirmed what he saw happen at the company. Basically what my buddy told me was correct that Chipotle was really focused on their culture, employee training, and promoting from within and this was working until they got over 500 restaurants and they kept growing at rocket pace. They were opening stores too quickly and couldn’t promote and train from within fast enough to keep their culture pure.

    To staff these new stores they had to bring in people from the outside who didn’t come up in Chipotle and hadn’t been imbued with their culture, that is really when they started to have their issues. Now you have a company that doesn’t really have a food safety mentality, a ton of tools or systems in place to manage food safety and people who are used to having those types of tools who are running wild.

    In 2017 we were asked to submit an RFP to be Chipotle’s internal audit software. I don’t know if this project was ever approved because the RFP was happening during the Brian Niccol switch over and Chipotle went dark during that period. I do know that one of our competitors, Zenput, is being used by Chipotle in some fashion to help their food safety operations, see staple article above.

    I would be lying to say that if Chipotle had chosen us that we would have said no. I can say that we had a ton of internal conversations about do we really want to be in business with Chipotle for a number of reasons, most importantly that we didn’t feel like they were actually doing the things that they needed to do to fix their biggest operations problem which was and I believe still is, Food Safety.

    I was in a Chipotle a couple of weeks ago, I think I have only eaten at Chipotle 1 time since 2015 and we were a Chipotle family before that. We ate there all the time. I went to the University of Denver Hotel and Restaurant School back in 92 – 95 and the first Chipotle opened 2 blocks from our building, I have a long history with the brand.

    I do know from my last visit that they have a software solution but also still use a red book. I know this because I ask the managers what they do from a food safety perspective all the time. Anyone who uses paper to manage their food safety isn’t serious about food safety. Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows that people don’t do their paper checklists. 94% of managers we surveyed said their teams don’t do their paper checklists correctly.

    Paper isn’t a system, it’s just paper.

    A system is a that you check, identify, record, upper management confirms and remediates issues that are discovered in a timely manner and that you document all of this as you go. Of course, you could do this on paper, but because it is very hard to confirm in real-time using paper, the whole system breaks down and doesn’t get done.

    If you are looking to graduate from paper to a real food safety and management accountability system that is cheaper per month than the Red Book, please check us out at OpsAnalitica.com. We have the best restaurant checklist platform on the market and as the low-cost leader, we are able to deliver incredible value for less than it would cost to manage this on paper.

    I hope that in Brian Niccol’s Taco Bell-ization of Chipotle, that he brings their systems and food safety culture with him, not just for me because I love Chipotle’s food but for their shareholders. If they continue to get people sick I don’t know how their stock will retain its value.

    I’ve said this before and I will reiterate it again. Had Chipotle not had so much brand equity with it’s stakeholders, the last couple of years would have destroyed their chain. It is a testament to Chipotle’s founders that they built such an impressive brand that it withstood their mismanagement.

    We wish Chipotle all the luck in the world and hope they can create a food safety culture that also honors their promote-from-within and hire the right people culture that served them so well for so long.

    Digital Checklists are More Important Than Ever To Minimize the Effects of High Employee Turnover

    I’m going to do my best to keep this blog short and sweet. Here is the deal:

    1. Employee Turnover is at an all-time high but employee tenure is the more important measure to understand. Tenure is how long our employees are staying in their jobs.
    2. Because the average employee is staying such a short amount of time we have to re-design how we onboard, train, and operate our restaurants to minimize the effects of this turnover and their associated costs.
    3. Checklists are a key component in reducing employee training costs and running more consistent daily restaurant operations. The only checklists that actually work are ones that are managed through a Checklist App where you have visibility and accountability.

    7 Shifts, the Scheduling Company, compiled 7 Restaurant Scheduling Stats of 2017. Click on the image below to see the whole infographic. The facts were crazy but these on how long employees on average stay in a job really stood out to me as scary.

    High restaurant turnover is an all-encompassing thing, I know this because I’ve lived it. When you have high turnover you don’t have time to think about anything else, you’re constantly engaged in hiring, training, and backfilling positions. All other pro-active things that you want to do for your restaurant get neglected. How can you work on that new menu or special when you have 3 open positions for tonight’s dinner rush. It’s brutal.

    The reality is, you have 57 days with a server, 54 days with a cook, and 124 days with your most expensive employee, your manager. These numbers really paint a picture of what restaurant operators are facing. Add to that the lowest unemployment in decades in the US and things are bleak for restaurant hiring.

    Now that you see what the average tenure of an employee is; do you still think it is prudent to spend 4 or 5 days on-boarding/training a person that is only going to be around 54 days? That training time for a server/cook could equate to 10% of their entire employment period at a higher than normal hourly wage.

    Here is what we have to do in the industry to minimize these effects.

    Shift your Training to Focus on Employee Productivity as Fast as Possible

    You have an employee that is going to stay 55 days. The difference between 3 to 5 days of initial training is significant. 3 Days of training is 5.4% of their tenure vs. 9% at 5 days. Think about the ROI jump on that employee when you get them productive quicker.

    The easiest place to cut training cost is to reduce the initial onboarding and training period. You do it by:

    1. Cutting all superfluous training out of the curriculum and focus 100% on must-have job role knowledge. Ex: Cooks need to know recipes, servers need to know how to use the POS and steps of service. Get new hires into their stations contributing to sales ASAP.
    2. Systematize Everything: Anything that is repeatable has to be in a checklist or in-station Job Aid. You can’t spend a second training people how to remember to do a repeatable task. Instead, you need to teach them that there are systems available to guide them through these tasks as they are doing them and how to use these systems.
    3. Shift to More Daily Training: You have to shift training from a front-loaded multi-day activity and move the non-job role must-have items to a daily format. Pre-shift meetings for all members of the restaurant are a way to still deliver this culture and non-job specific training in a short couple of minute sessions. Repeating this training over time is very effective.
    4. Simplify as much as you can. For instance, and a lot of people have done this, put allergen, gluten, health information right on your menu. That makes it easy for customers to find out what items they can eat and reduces the amount of training you have to provide FOH employees on the menu. For the BOH, reduce as many steps as possible for prep and in your recipes. Anywhere you can find efficiency without compromising quality, you should make the change. A great example is a lot of quick-service restaurants have assembly cards in the different cooking stations, this helps with consistency but can also reduce upfront training time because there is a job aid right in their station. You have to do that because your employees aren’t around long enough to learn super complex processes.
    5. Use your employee’s phones to your advantage: Nothing infuriates me more than wanting something from an employee at a restaurant, waiting for them to see me, and they are looking at their phone. I get it. Phones can distract people from doing their jobs and there should be consequences when that happens. On the flip side, tablets are expensive. Cheap Android tablets with cases cost around $125 to $200. iPads can cost $400 to $1000’s of dollars. 99% of your employees have smartphones that can be used on your Wifi for free to engage in training and to complete checklists. You can’t mandate that they use their own phones, you have to provide an alternative, but you can allow them to use their devices to make your business better and their jobs easier and more convenient. Treat their devices as a force multiplier.

    Short Checklists for All Repeatable Tasks and Job Aids for Singular Tasks

    Most Pilot checklists are 5 or so questions. Turing the engines on isn’t one 50 question checklist that takes an hour, it might be 3 5-question short checklists with high-level items on them. We have a chain client that has a 30 to 40 total, 5 to 6 question checklists for every station. They take a minute to complete but they cover the most important items from a shift readiness perspective for each station. Their readiness went through the roof when they implemented this system.

    Short checklists get done at higher percentages of compliance than longer checklists. You are always going to have a need to have some very thorough checklists and they tend be longer, line checks, food safety checks spring to mind and that is fine. Focus on making a lot of your checklists, short and easy to complete. Also, if you have long checklists, make sure you choose an app that supports real-time collaboration where multiple people can work simultaneously on the same checklist, that will help speed it up and drive higher compliance.

    You should use checklists for tasks/processes that require multiple steps or multiple items. Job Aids should be used for single steps. You would use a checklist for setting up the beverage station because it involves multiple steps and multiple items. You would use a job aid to show how to make the Iced Tea.

    The concept of multi=checklist and single=job aid can be applied to all departments. Also, use common sense when it comes to creating job aids. You don’t need a job aid on how to clean the front door with windex. You may want one on how to cut lemons because lemon slice size affects food cost and customer satisfaction.

    Digital checklists and the OpsAnalitica Platform

    Your restaurant’s team is constantly turning over. In a lot of restaurants, the most senior person could have 4 months of tenure or less. Everyone is new all the time and you are constantly training and on-boarding new employees.

    You need to create systems that they have to follow so you can ensure food safety, shift readiness, and consistent customer experiences. You need systems that can be easily updated and centrally managed so that changes to operations can be quickly implemented at a minimum cost.

    You also need a way to hold the team accountable for using the checklists and systems you have created. Because institutional knowledge of your operations in this environment can be very low, you need a way to bubble up issues to upper management in real-time and an ability to view what is happening at any location from any device.

    Don’t forget about deep clean and preventative maintenance. You need to bring those activities into your checklist system so you track them. To make sure you are doing those activities so you don’t incur unnecessary repair costs, downtime, and losses. Also, because of the short tenure of employees, the current employees won’t have a clue if the last maintenance activities happened before they worked for you.

    The entire restaurant industry has managed itself with paper checklists for years. The problem is, paper checklists don’t get done and there is no way for an above store leader to manage operations with them easily and effectively. We all know that our paper checklists are getting pencil whipped, 94% of managers surveyed said they knew their employees weren’t following them.

    The OpsAnalitica Platform is the perfect platform to replace your paper checklists with. As the low-cost leader in the restaurant digital checklist space, we can provide your team with the platform that will replace your paper checklists for a cost that is less than the Red Book per month per location.

    Our platform will provide you with real-time visibility, enhanced accountability, and critical notifications, in a fully customizable app that works on any Android or iOS device.

    As the overall economy continues to grow, as the labor pool continues to shrink, restaurant employee turnover is going to stay a concern for the near future. As restaurant operators, we need to look for ways to streamline our hiring, on-boarding, training, and daily operation processes so that we can minimize the effect of this high turnover on our teams and on our customer satisfaction. One of the easiest and quickest ways to do this is to move your paper checklists, that aren’t getting done, to an app where you can hold your teams accountable to following your ops procedures.

    OpsAnalitica Beats Paper Checklists and the Red Book

    At OpsAnalitica, we were the first to preach daily checklists and their benefits for running better and safer daily operations, improving visibility and managerial accountability using an app. While our competitors were preaching auditing your way to restaurant health, we knew that audits were incapable of driving behavior change at the restaurant level.

    As we have done analysis on how our prospects/clients conducted their operations in the real world before using our app, what we realized is this, their process wasn’t broken, it was their tool that was broken. I’m speaking about paper based restaurant checklists and food safety systems.

    Whether you print your checklists every week or your purchase the Red Book. It doesn’t matter, your checklist compliance, shift readiness, management accountability, safety processes, and record keeping are all suffering not because they aren’t well thought out or that you didn’t do a good job of training your teams, they’re suffering from the inherent weakness of paper.

    Paper based systems have the following issues:

    1. Paper can’t proactively bubble up issues to management.
    2. Data on paper is essentially useless because it can’t be viewed by people who aren’t at the location and it is expensive and time consuming to get it into a database where it can be queried and used to make better decisions.
    3. You can’t hold your team accountable to following your paper based procedures – this is paper’s biggest weakness.
    4. Pencil Whipping, your managers aren’t using your systems as they were intended and your profits are suffering.

    Now there is a better way to run your restaurants, a way to ensure that your teams are following your procedures every shift. A way to have issues bubbled up to management immediately so they can react quickly to squash them. A way to have real-time visibility into all of your restaurants from your phone, and to stop pencil whipping which directly affects customer satisfaction, sales and profits.

    Ditch Paper and Go Digital. The OpsAnalitica Platform is cheap, less than the cost of the Red Book per month, and an easy replacement for your paper checklists. The benefits of using the system, as described above, we fix all the accountability and visibility issues that you have with paper. We do it by simply taking your current process and changing its medium from paper to a phone or tablet, that’s it.

    Imagine a world where you go into your restaurants and your teams followed every procedure during their set-up. You conduct a spot check on your line and all you food had been temped and tasted and everything is exactly as it should be. You have a restaurant that welcomes a health inspection or 3rd party audit, because things are to spec. A restaurant where guests are excited to dine because they always have a good experience. That restaurant is completely possible and there is no secret on how to operate it.

    It’s shift readiness and consistent execution. It’s blocking and tackling, it’s following your checklists every shift in every location. The thing is, you already have your procedures, you have already done the hard work of figuring out all the stuff your teams need to run your restaurants with perfection. The problem is they aren’t doing it and you can’t hold them accountable to doing it while you are using paper checklists as your system.

    Paper based lack of accountability affects all restaurants; regardless of size, type, and revenue. Chains and single unit operators alike face the same issues when it comes to holding their managers accountable to following procedures.

    I was talking to the members of the c-suite of a brewery restaurant chain. They were telling me how thorough and important their line checks were to their operations. How they audited the restaurants once a quarter and that they checked line check compliance on the audits. So I asked the question, are you auditors seeing 180 line checks when they audit? Everyone in the room just laughed. Oh yeah, they all get done, Ha Ha Ha.

    What is that old quote, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That is the restaurant industry when it comes to operations procedures and checklists. The restaurant industry spends tons of money and time figuring out the best way to run the restaurants to maximize customer satisfaction and efficiency. We are masters at figuring out how to run these restaurants, to simplify processes so they can be executed at the most base level. We are truly brilliant at that part of running restaurants.

    The crazy part is, we don’t do a good job of holding anyone accountable to following any of our procedures. Because with paper it is too hard to do that effectively so we just don’t do it. We laugh about our teams not following our procedures and yet we spend a ton of money developing those procedures. Why spend the money developing them if no one is doing them?

    That pencil whipping mentality is so ingrained in our operating culture because, once again, up until the invention of platforms like OpsAnalitica you couldn’t get the visibility or accountability you would need to stop it.

    It’s time for a change, it’s time for restaurant operators to hold their teams accountable to following their procedures because that is their jobs and because when they don’t do it customer satisfaction, safety, sales, and profits all suffer.

    If you would like to learn more about how the OpsAnalitica platform can change your business, click here.

    The System Your Ops Team Knows It Needs but Doesn’t Want

    There is a better way to run multi-unit restaurants, managing an entire chain using daily checklist software in real-time, which provides your Ops Teams with store level visibility and managerial accountability. Plus when restaurants are held accountable to following your procedures, they run better, safer and more profitable locations.

    Restaurant companies spend millions of dollars and untold hours developing, training and implementing procedures so that the restaurant store teams know exactly what they need to do at every part of the day so they can make sure the restaurants are ready for guests. The food is prepared correctly and it is safe and delicious. The problem has always been, that no one at the restaurants uses the checklists or follow the systems as they are designed. See our blog on the Industry’s Dirty Little Secret.

    These benefits of increased visibility and accountability are what has been missing from multi-unit operations mainly because the technology to make this easy to do just wasn’t available. Today for the first time in the restaurant industry’s history, not only is the technology affordable but it is widely available. Your operations team knows that by implementing a daily checklist system that it would be better for your customers, your stakeholders, and your bottom line, but they don’t want you to implement it.

    No restaurant professional is going to argue that running better daily restaurant operations at each location would be bad for business. The time spent making sure that the food you are serving is safe and tasty is wasted, or, that having a clean well-organized restaurant would be unappealing for guests.

    We all know as restauranteurs or as diners, restaurants that serve good and safe food in a clean environment, with a decent staff generate more sales and profits than their competitors. Duh!

    We are currently talking to a national chain about implementing our daily checklist software at their restaurants. We are speaking with their QA team, who recognizes that they could do better as a chain at ensuring that the restaurants are clean and that the food they are serving is held at proper temps and safe for consumption. Our contact told us to tread lightly with Ops because they were a little scared of our software.

    Not scared of the software itself but scared of the accountability and visibility it would bring to their department.

    I was speaking with a friend who manages several hundred restaurants last year and I was telling him how our software could provide his area managers with visibility into what was happening in each of his franchise stores. Alerting them to critical food safety violations in real-time. His response was, who is going to manage all these alerts?

    I was talking with one of the top pizza chains in the US and I was told that their lawyers weighed in and they didn’t want to know if their franchise stores were safe or not safe. If they knew then they could assume co-liability.

    That is such a lawyer mentality. 1. People can sue you for anything. 2. If you got sick at one of their restaurants, would you only sue the mom and pop who own the store. Yeah right, you would sue the multinational corporation 1st, or more than likely, Mahler Clarke would sue both parties for you.

    The mentality that it’s better not to know where we have issues at the restaurants rather than discovering where we have operational gaps and fixing those ourselves to protect our brand and customers is such a short-sighted mentality and quite frankly it’s mind-boggling to me.

    The question is; why are restaurant operations teams hesitant to implement Ops Management systems, like OpsAnalitica, that could help them run better daily restaurant operations?

    I think it comes down to being held truly accountable, visibilyt/perceived liability, and self-preservation at the leadership level.

    Now, I want to acknowledge that running 1 or 4000 restaurants is hard. From my experience, they are both equally challenging with different problems but it takes everything you have to keep the doors open at these locations.

    I also want to acknowledge that the technology that one would use to get real-time visibility and oversight at the restaurant level is fairly new, we launched in 2015. There were a few players when we started but not many. This technology really became prevalent with the invention of the tablet and smart phone.

    Today, most restaurant companies have very little oversight into daily operations. Because of this, they look at the following data points to determine how well a restaurant is operating:

    1. Audits: restaurant inspections that are conducted on a quarterly basis by the field teams or by 3rd party auditing companies. These inspections are thorough but happen so infrequently that they can’t be used to change behavior or ensure that daily operations are being executed to standard.
    2. Costs: looking at controllable costs: food, labor, paper, liquor, etc. to determine manager efficacy.
    3. Customer Feedback: looking at number of complaints and compliments. This number is skewed because so few people care enough to actually leave a comment. These people are the most passionate from a good/bad perspective, that they are willing to take the time to tell you what they are experiencing, you have to look at these numbers with some skepticism. You could also lump social reputation, Yelp Scores, into this category and I would suggest that social media is easier to use than traditional customer experience programs.
    4. Health Inspections: most restuarant companies don’t do much with this data because it is hard to get. Also, health inspections are notoriously skewed up according to Google, see our last blog, and they only happen a couple of times a year.
    5. Sales: Another measure that looks at manager efficacy but really need to be looked at in comparison to other restaurants in the immediate area, including competitors. A restaurant could have incredibly high sales but still not be running all that well, look at airport restaurants, who have high volumes because of location and a trapped clientele.

    Traditionally, Ops Teams have evaluated all of these measures and backed into restaurant operations scores but these measures don’t tell the full story. As a side note, when you take these traditional data points and overlay them onto the data you can get from an OpsAnalitica or any other Ops Management system, that is the holy grail. You can directly correlate how operations affect sales, costs, and customer satisfaction.

    Accountability

    Because of the way most restaurant companies structure their organizations and how we currently measure restaurant operations, see above, there is very little direct accountability anywhere in a traditional restaurant ops team from the restaurant level to the VP level.

    Restaurant managers/franchise owners are in charge of their restaurants, and in a perfect world, they would execute to all company standards.

    The restaurant’s direct supervisors, Area Directors, traditionally manage multiple units and are very rarely in each of their restaurants on a daily basis. Depending on the size of the organization they may only get to a restaurant 1 time a month or a quarter.

    The Area Director level of management is corporates representation within the organization but it is a very hard job to be effective at. It goes up from there with upper levels of management getting to restaurants on even a more infrequent basis.

    Today chains rely on audits for direct contact with the restaurant. Audits are only so effective, because they happen too infrequently to matter. For instance most audits ask a question about how well the restaurant is doing on completing their daily food safety and operations checklists. A lot of operators will point to these questions as an example of them doing their due dilligence on food safety and ops procedures.

    There are two things wrong with these “are people following procedures” questions: 1. they aren’t worth enough points to truly affect the audit score, therefore they don’t penalize people enough for not following the daily procedures. You have procedures but have no mechanism for holding people accountable to following those procedures.

    2. Audits generally happen quarterly, so they don’t meet the timely standard for providing effective feedback. If you are auditing in December, it’s impossible to hold people accountable for not following procedures in October.

    Restaurant organizations lack direct managerial accountability and since they’ve never had it, they don’t perceive that they absolutely need it today. I think it goes a little deeper than that. I think they know, I knew when I was in corporate ops at Quiznos, how things are at the restaurant level and they are worried about being completely overwhelmed with new issues if they started to hold people accountable.

    They see holding people accountable to following procedures at least in the short-term, could be creating a ton of new work for themselves that they don’t have today because they don’t know what they don’t know.

    Staffing is also a problem because current org structures are not staffed to handle real-time management of all their restaurants. This is a fair and real concern but not an impossible one to be overcome. With our technology, one or two people could effectively manage a large organization of restaurants from corporate using our alerts and reports. Staffing shouldn’t be used as an excuse for not implementing a system that would increase sales and customer satisfaction across the organization, it is an opportunity to reorganize your current teams to be more effective.

    Visibility and Perceived Liability

    If you start to get real-time visibility and issues are being bubbled up to management, you have a brand and legal responsibility, due care and due diligence, to address these issues immediately and get them rectified.

    I would agree that this a real legal liability to know something is wrong and not take action. As an Ops Leader, you should absolutely put into place procedures to deal with issues in real-time and work to make sure that your operations are safe. That goes back to staffing and being able to address things in a timely manner.

    When in the history of the world was it a better long-term policy to ignore bad things happening within your business instead of addressing and fixing them? Never!!!!!

    I think that a lot of restaurant company executives would be surprised or at least overwhelmed by the amount of daily critical infractions they would find if they had the OpsAnalitica system implemented across their restaurants. I’ve seen the data coming in and it is pretty scary.

    Pretending that you don’t have issues is not the same as not having issues. Not having issues because you are proactively managing them out of your business is better.

    Self-Preservation

    I’m not going to harp on self-preservation for 20 paragraphs. Nobody wants to be perceived as not doing a good job. It takes strong leadership to lead substantive change into an organization and to build new skills and change procedures. It’s not easy or fun.

    Conclusion

    Let’s pose this question to ourselves. Would you fly on an airplane if airplanes were franchised and operated similiarly to how restaurant companies operate their restaurants? Hell No!

    The comparisons between airplanes and restaurants is very relevant. A busy restaurant will serve as many people as a plane would transport on a trip. Both airlines and restaurants have massive responsibilities in ensuring the health and safety of their guests. If a restaurant or an airline doesn’t do everything they are supposed to do, the results can be catostrophic. The worse case scenario doesn’t happen all that often but does happen and it destroys lives.

    If you are a restaurant executive that wouldn’t fly on a franchised plane that was operated by one of your franchisees. Then you have to ask yourself why a person should eat at one of your restaurants.

    I’ve made the case that restaurant Ops Teams have been resistant to implement Ops Management systems like OpsAnalitica, because they are concerned about being held accountable for their restaurants, the potential for an increased amount of work that would cause them in the short-term, the liability that could be incurred by knowing what is happening in their restaurants if they are unable to get those issues rectified, and their own self-preservation. All of these reasons are BS.

    We now have a technology that can help us run better restaurants, keep our guests safer, and increase customer satisfaction which will lead to increased sales and profits. Restaurant leaders have a fiduciary responsibility to their stakeholders to implement systems that are going to protect and grow their investments. We have a human responsibility to run better restaurants for our customers.

    If you want to learn more about OpsAnalitica, click here.

    Google FINDER and the Power of Data to make Restaurants Safer

    Are you aware of Google’s FINDER algorithm? My guess is not yet but you will hear more about it in the future.  Check out this article from The Daily Mail UK .

    Google has created a machine learning algorithm named FINDER, Foodborne Illness Detector in Real Time, that is capable of pairing search terms like “diarrhea” and “stomach cramps” with a person’s geolocation history to determine which restaurants they have visited recently and proactively detect which restaurants might be operating unsafely in real-time.

    Here are some of the interesting facts from the Daily Mail Article:

    • Google ran a test across Chicago and Las Vegas in 2016 & 17.
    • FINDER detected that the percentage of unsafe restaurants across those cities were 52.3% vs. the health department inspection data which said that 22.7% were unsafe.
    • FINDER was more accurate than customer complaints. which are only accurate about 38% of the time. “Researchers believe this is because most people assume the cause of their food poisoning was the last place they ate at, causing them to file a complaint at the wrong restaurant. They point to medical studies that have shown foodborne illnesses can take 48 hours or even longer to become symptomatic after someone has been exposed. “
    • “[We] demonstrated that FINDER improves the accuracy of health inspections; restaurants identified by FINDER are 3.1 times as likely to be deemed unsafe during the inspection as restaurants identified by existing methods,’ according to the study.”

    First off, I’m so impressed by the FINDER project, because they used readily available disparate data and combined it together to identify causality and to notify the proper authorities to investigate.

    Here are my conclusions from the article:

    1. The idea that a health inspection or an internal audit conducted periodically is enough to identify unsafe restaurants is an antiquated and inaccurate way of managing food safety.
    2. This further confirms the FDA’s recent study, read our blog to learn more, that the best way to reduce the risk of foodborne illness is an FSMS (Food Safety Management System) that fosters daily active managerial control.
    3. In the future, we will see an increase in systems that are constantly monitoring and reporting on exceptions.  We do that today in our platform and we are continuing to look for ways to expand that exception reporting. To learn more about the OpsAnalitica Platform, click here.
    4. Restaurant operators that have been highly critical of reviews where a person said they got sick at their restaurant, there is some validity in that criticism.
    5. Iwaspoisoned.com, which we have lauded as a really cool platform for identifying foodborne illness outbreaks may have a very short lifespan because the accuracy of complaints is only 38% and this platform is more accurate.

    The restaurant industry, like all industries, has a responsibility to operate at the highest standard and to police itself for the continued prosperity of all restaurants.  Restaurants get people sick on a daily basis, causing their patron’s great physical discomfort and costing society billions of dollars annually.

    The FINDER study showed that over half the restaurants in the cities studied were unsafe. People get sick at restaurants all the time but because most restaurants only get inspected 1 or 2 times per year and it generally requires a doctor’s diagnosis to make an official foodborne illness complaint, it continues to get underreported and these unsafe restaurants are continuing to operate without any regulatory consequences.

    The FDA needs to mandate through the Food Code a minimum standard of daily active managerial control procedures and digital record keeping for all restaurants. We recommend that they take a Criticals First approach to this standard.

    Restaurants need to implement their own FSMS that promote daily active managerial control and then work those systems to run safer operations for their own well being. I’ll leave you with this thought. 80% of restaurants fail within the first 5 years, we in the industry have always equated that to bad operations, locations, and management. Would you ever go back to a restaurant that got you sick? I wouldn’t, I haven’t. I wonder how much of the restaurant failure rate could be potentially contributed to patrons not going back to restaurants that made them sick?

     

     

     

     

     

    The Number 1 Factor For Reducing Critical Food Safety Violations is…

    The number one factor for reducing critical food safety violations is…

    Implementing a Food Safety Management System (FSMS) with daily Active Managerial Control (AMC)

    The following is from the FDA REPORT ON THE OCCURRENCE OF FOODBORNE ILLNESS RISK FACTORS IN FAST FOOD AND FULL-SERVICE RESTAURANTS, 2013-2014 Prepared by the FDA National Retail Food Team 2018

    Here are my conclusions from the study so you don’t have to read the whole thing

    1. The number 1 factor that predicts less food safety violations, in both Fast Food and Full Service restaurants,  is a well developed, documented and executed daily Food Safety Management System (FSMS) that drives Daily Active Managerial Control (AMC). 
      1. FSMS were the strongest predictor of data items being out-of-compliance in both fast food and full-service restaurants: those with well-developed food safety management systems had significantly fewer food safety behaviors/practices out of compliance than did those with less developed food safety management systems.- Page 39
    2. That the presence of Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) on staff positively correlates to having a better FSMS but doesn’t replace an FSMS.
      1. However, upon multi-factor regression, the correlations between certified food protection manager and out-of-compliance become non-significant, indicating that food safety management systems and not the presence of a certified food protection manager predict compliance with food safety behaviors/practices. – Page 40
      2. In fast food restaurants with a CFPM who was the person in charge at the time of data collection, the average FSMS score was 2.645, while the average score for fast food restaurants with no CFPM employed was 1.822. In full-service restaurants, scores were 1.842 and 1.348, respectively. This suggests that having a CFPM present at all hours of operation enhances food safety management systems and reduces the number of out-of-compliance food safety behaviors/practices. – Page 40
    3. If you don’t have a CFPM working every shift, then you might as well not have one at all.
      1. In fact, having a CFPM who was not present was almost no different than having no CFPM at all for the out-of-compliance food safety behaviors/practices evaluated in this study. – page 40
    4. The types of Jurisdiction the restaurant resides in and whether the health inspections that you receive are: Scored/Not Scored, Publicly Available/Not Publicly Available, or that Employee Food Safety Training is Required/Not Required didn’t affect the scores of the Fast Food or Full-Service Restaurants. This makes sense as health inspections only happen a couple of times a year. The quote below is for full-service restaurants but they stated similar conclusions for fast food restaurants
      1. Full-service restaurants located in jurisdictions that graded establishments did not have significantly different results (p = 0.0819) compared to full-service restaurants located in jurisdictions that did not grade. Establishments located in jurisdictions where there was a requirement to make inspection results public did not have significantly different compliance (p = 0.6820) than establishments in jurisdictions that did not require reporting. Establishments in jurisdictions that required food handler training did not have significantly different compliance (p = 0.0626) than establishments in jurisdictions that did not require food handler training. – Page 30
    5. Of the foodborne illness risk factors investigated in this study, restaurants had the best control over inadequate cooking. There remains a need to gain better control over improper holding/time and temperature and poor personal hygiene. Page 39
    6. Multi-unit operators had significantly lower instances of out-of-compliance items compared to single unit operators. Page 26 This was true for both Fast Food and Full-Service Restaurants.

    In layman’s terms, you have to have food safety procedures for your restaurants daily operations, you have to train your team on how to follow those procedures, most importantly your managers have to complete daily monitoring activities (via checklists, logs, and/or IoT) to ensure that you are identifying and fixing any issues that you find in real-time.

    Here is my shameless self-promotion:

    • The OpsAnalitica Platform is the backbone of any good Food Safety Management System. It provides your teams with access to Procedures, Training, and Monitoring functionality in real-time customized to every location and is the foundation of a well developed and documented FSMS. Please click here if you would like to learn more about our platform and how we can help you set up your FSMS. 
    • Time and temperature control was the number one food safety issue identified for both full-service and fast food restaurants. The OpsAnalitica platform integrates with temperature sensors and with our proactive notifications we can alert management to critical food safety violations in real-time so that any problems can be fixed immediately before they affect customers.
    • I have been shouting these conclusions for the last 3 years to everyone in the industry via this blog and our marketing and sales efforts. It feels good to be backed up by this study but the fact that in 68% of Fast Food and 86% of Full-Service Restaurants that there was an observance of improper temperature control means that the status quo system of having paper-based food safety procedures that are largely pencil whipped with no accountability or above store visibility is failing. We as an industry need to take this stuff more seriously.

    As food service professionals, we owe it to ourselves, our customers, and our brands to take the conclusions from this report seriously and implement FSMS and daily AMC into our restaurants.

    As I mentioned in a blog a couple of weeks ago, we heard from one of the head lobbyists for the NRA that they expect the FDA conversations around mandatory digit record keeping in restaurants to begin in 2019 and would expect to see updates to the food code in 2021. I believe that the conclusions of this report play right into those initiatives for well documented FSMS programs.

    Excerpts from the Study

    The rest of this blog is going to be summarizing the report and displaying the most interesting charts and graphs from it.  I will try to do my best to make my opinions clear and differentiated from the findings. The above link is my blanket footnote for the information below as you can reference the original text at any point.

    Purpose of the Study:

    The purpose of each restaurant data collection during the current 10-year study period is to investigate the relationship between food safety management systems (FSMS), certified food protection managers (CFPMs), and the occurrence of risk factors and food safety behaviors/practices commonly associated with foodborne illness in restaurants.

    Let’s define FSMS (Food Safety Management System)

    FSMS refers to a specific set of actions (e.g., procedures, training, and monitoring) to help achieve active managerial control. While FSMS procedures vary across the retail and food service industry, purposeful implementation of those procedures, training, and monitoring are consistent components of FSMS.

    AMC (Active Managerial Control)

    To help prevent foodborne illness, the FDA Food Code emphasizes the need for risk- based preventive controls and daily active managerial control (AMC) of the risk factors contributing to foodborne illness in retail and food service facilities. AMC is “the purposeful incorporation of specific actions or procedures by industry management into the operation of their business to attain control over foodborne illness risk factors” (FDA, 2013). A food establishment’s achieving AMC involves the continuous identification and proactive prevention of food safety hazards.

    Why are FSMS’s important?

    Inadequate FSMS are thought to contribute to the worldwide burden of foodborne disease (Luning et al., 2008). For example, HACCP has been shown to have positive effects on food safety, but the poor implementation of HACCP has been described as a precursor to foodborne outbreaks (Cormier, 2007; Luning et al., 2009; Ropkins and Beck, 2000).

    What is a CFPM (Certified Food Protection Manager)

    A CFPM is an individual who has shown proficiency in food safety information by passing a test that is part of an accredited program (FDA, 2013a). Research has shown that the presence of a CFPM is associated with improved inspection scores (Hedberg et al., 2007; Cates et al., 2008, Brown et al., 2014). Hedberg et al. (2006) found that the major difference between outbreak and non-outbreak restaurants was the presence of a CFPM.

    Table 3 describes how the team rated the risk of different food service establishments, they didn’t study any risk category 1 businesses.

    Table 4 talks about what they were looking for in the study.

    This next image describes the different scoring criteria for FSMS’s. 

    The Results

    Study Conclusions

     

    Thank you for reading this blog. If you want to learn more about OpsAnalitica, go to OpsAnalitica.com.

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

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