Author : Tommy Yionoulis

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People Can’t Get Their Managers To Follow Procedures

We are constantly talking to restaurant leaders about procedures, checklists, food safety etc.. One of the issues that is commonly raised by these managers is that they are struggling to get their people to do what they are supposed to do. This happens more than you can believe and I literally can’t understand it. Restaurant companies cannot get their employees to follow their procedures.

Some of this can be attributed to how your systems are set-up. Paper is useless for holding people accountable.


From a sales perspective, this is great news for us, because our system drives accountability and visibility into daily operations. When people adopt our platform they can see, right from their phones, what is getting done and what isn’t.

If I’m completely honest with myself, I used to put the bulk of the blame on the employees for not following procedures. I just thought they were being lazy, some of that is true, but what I’ve come to realize is, this issue is a FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP!

Leaders control what they can control, they prioritize tasks, they implement systems, they follow-up in a timely manner, provide feedback, and ultimately they hold their manager’s accountable.

We were recently talking with one of our clients who has been on the platform several times, I will talk about that more below, and he can’t get his people to use it. He gets on the phone with us and he is frustrated. We are going through all the things we can do to get his people to use the platform more and then he says it. “They are just so busy, I don’t want to add more to their plates.”

It’s Him!!!!!!

He is the reason that his people don’t use the platform. He is the reason that his restaurants aren’t hitting their goals, or are as clean as they should be, delivering the customer experiences he wants.

It’s his failure of leadership, failure to hold his team accountable to following their procedures is why they aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing. All the issues that he purchased our platform for, are not getting addressed because he isn’t holding his team accountable to fixing them.

So now when I hear people telling me their restaurants are struggling because of xyz. It is a huge red flag for me, I stop listening to all the symptoms they are discussing and try to figure out which leader is the disease.

This leads me to the second thing I want to discuss in this blog. People leaving OpsAnalitica only to come back 6 months to a year later.

Recently people who started with OpsAnalitica who left have been coming back and some of those people have left again. It is the craziest thing. Here is what is happening.

  1. Management determines that they have operational issues that could be solved by putting a system and some checklists in place.
  2. They research the market and end up choosing OpsAnalitica to solve this issue.
  3. They get set-up and launch the platform but they can’t change their employees behavior to take advantage of the software.
  4. Basically after 5 to 6 months they get tired of being reminded every day that they have zero control over their employees actions, our system is very good at telling you what isn’t getting done, they decide to shut down the service.
  5. Wait 5 or 6 months and then go back to number 1. Management determines that they still haven’t solved their operational problems.
  6. Because our software runs really well, we provide great customer service, and our pricing is fair; the customer comes back on the platform.


As I’m writing this blog, a customer that was with us for years, who left about 12 months ago, just signed back up again.

The key success factor of implementing any system in your business is that you have to change you and your teams behavior to use the system. To drill in even deeper, you have to change your leader’s behaviors first.

For those of you who are out there and you aren’t satisfied with your teams performance. I’m going to ask you to look in the mirror and make sure that your attitudes and leadership are where they are supposed to be.

If you are going to implement new systems to fix your issues and modernize your operations. Make sure to commit from the top down, use the data, hold your teams accountable to using the platforms. If you don’t do that, you will not see any ROI.

If you are not capable of implementing change throughout your business then you will go out of business. The market, competition, customer tastes, and technology are changing at a faster pace then every before. Your company has to be able to adapt to change quickly and you have to build the organizational muscles to be able to implement solutions effectively and quickly.

If you are interested in learning more about how the OpsAnalitica Platform can transform your restaurant operations. Please check us out at OpsAnalitica.com

The Tight Labor Market is Causing Some Restaurant Managers to Make Poor Short-term Decisions

This is one of the most robust labor markets in the last 50 years. Typically low unemployment in the overall economy is bad for the restaurant industry because of our lower base pay and how demanding restaurant jobs are. Restaurant turnover is at 100%.

Look at these restaurant labor stats from the 7 Shifts Blog

I’ve been a manager who was constantly hiring and training, for months on end. We had very high FOH turnover and we were constantly interviewing, hiring, training, every week. It’ was exhausting. Plus it takes so much time that you aren’t able to get anything else done. All those little projects that you want to get done just get pushed aside when people don’t show up to work.

This labor market has been tight for the last couple of years and managers are starting to get worn down. They are so tired of being in this labor rat race that they are doing anything they can to keep employees happy even when their actions could be hurting the long-term viability of their restaurants.

We were recently working with a client of ours that has been on and off our checklist platform a couple of times over the last couple of years. He can’t get his people to use the platform and while we were talking with him he said. “These guys are so busy, I just don’t want to put any extra work on their plates.”

I want to break down that comment and thinking for you because it is super interesting.

  1. This was from an area director responsible for running 9 burger franchise restaurants from a national chain.
  2. By their franchise agreement they, the franchisees, are responsible for executing the chains national food safety and quality standards every day every shift. This isn’t extra Work!
  3. We load a restaurant’s paper checklists exactly as they are on paper into our platform, there is no difference other than using a mobile device vs. a pen.
  4. People view doing checklists on our platform as extra work but don’t view completing those same checklists on paper as extra work. That is because they know that their teams are pencil whipping and not doing their checklists on paper! Because of the limitations of paper they have plausible deniability, meaning they can’t be held responsible for not knowing that checklists didn’t get completed.
  5. The reason his people don’t get their stuff done is because he doesn’t hold them accountable to doing it, he views food safety checklists and ops checklists as extra work not as what they are, job aids that help managers execute safely and effectively.
  6. He doesn’t hold them accountable to using the platform because he realizes that the OpsAnalitica is very good at showing you if people are doing their checklists and that it is very good at ensuring things get done.
  7. Instead he lets them do whatever they want and pretends they are doing what they are supposed to be doing until they get caught by the chains 3rd party inspectors.

Why doesn’t he want his team to do what they are supposed to be doing to run their restaurants the way they were designed to be run. It’s because of turnover. When a manager leaves, this area manager has to replace them. It becomes more work for him and goes back to everything that I opened this blog with. It’s exhausting.

He thinks that if he is easier on these managers that they might stay longer, which there is no proof of, and he makes that trade off at the expense of his customers satisfaction, safety, and sales.

When was the last time you went to super well run and profitable restaurant and heard about them cutting corners on their procedures or not holding their teams accountable to being the best? You haven’t. Because great operators know that systems are what drives repeatable success and they hold their teams accountable to being great.

When you don’t hold people accountable to running your systems your restaurants don’t run as well. Things get missed that directly impact customer experiences and over time it is that degradation of the customer experience that drives customers away from coming to your business.

I understand that this labor market is super tough but we as an industry have to get creative about screening, recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees. What changes has your organizations made to address these issues? Are you offering more money, retention and performance bonuses, golden handcuffs like options or other perks?

I fear that restaurants are in this very expensive endless recruiting and hiring cycle that has the secondary effect of making restaurant operations less consistent. I don’t see the industry as a whole doing anything differently then they were in 1984 when I joined the industry.

Cutting your standards to keep employees is a recipe for going out of business.

Please add a comment about any really cool things your company is doing in regards to hiring or retention or that you have heard about so I can update our readers.

If you would like to learn more about how the OpsAnalitica Platform can help you drive consistently safe and excellent operations across your restaurants and how it can be used to push behavior change in real-time, please check us out at OpsAnalitica.com

The Risks and the Rewards of Franchising

Anyone who has followed the OpsAnalitica blog knows that I worked at Quiznos right before their implosion in 08, 09. I had two jobs at Quiznos: I was the manager of the Franchise Assistance Program and then I was promoted to be the RSC Ops Leader when Franchise Assistance went away.

During my time as the Franchise Assistance Program manager, I was working with failing franchisees who wanted relief, usually financial, from Quiznos. I was not authorized to grant that relief.

That was an incredibly hard position to work in because my team and I heard heart-wrenching stories every day on how these people were losing money and their dreams of owning a successful business.

I just heard a podcast entitled Debating the Risks and Rewards of Franchising by Jonathan Maze.

I listened to the entire episode and it is dead on. It is an interview with Matthew Haller SVP of Government Relations for the International Franchise Association and Keith Miller Director of Public Affairs for the American Association of Franchisees & Dealers.

I highly recommend that you click this link and listen to the podcast from their website.

The Pareto Principle and Restaurants

“The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is a theory maintaining that 80 percent of the output from a given situation or system is determined by 20 percent of the input. … More generally, the principle can be interpreted to say that a minority of inputs results in the majority of outputs.” Read more here.

I fully believe in the Pareto Principle and I believe that it can be pretty accurately applied to all aspects of life.

I have a theory that is solely based on the Pareto Principle and my own observations from my lifetime career in the restaurant industry. It is….

That 80% of the restaurants in America are just getting by and 20% are making all the profits. The 20% group of profitable restaurants chains are constantly evolving and changing. Just because you were in it last year doesn’t mean you will be in it this year.

The restaurant industry in America is large and complex. We are constantly adding new restaurants every day, new brands, new concepts, new types of foods. It is crazy to watch how many new concepts are started every year. Yet the total unit count in the US stays pretty stagnant.

This image is from Statista.com

For every brand new Jersey Mike’s location, another sub shop goes away. That is how Jersey Mikes can have added over 1000 units in the last couple of years and yet the total number or restaurants isn’t growing like crazy.

Think about the number of restaurants that you visit every month. How many of them are just killing it? Include every restaurant, not just the new hot fine dining restaurant in your town. Think about every sub shop, fast food restaurant, delivery order you get. Are everyone of these restaurants turning a huge profit. Are the owners making a great living or are they just getting by?

I worked for P.F. Chang’s in the early 2000’s. We were one of the hottest concepts at that time. We would have a 90 minute wait on a Monday night. When was the last time your location had a 90 minute wait on a Monday Night? P.F. Chang’s isn’t as popular as it was back when I worked there but they are still a really good and profitable chain.

I joined Quiznos in 2008 they had grown from less than 1000 locations in the early 2000’s to just over 5000 locations when I arrived. Now they have 350 to 400 domestic locations. When was the last time you saw a Quiznos, not just ate there?

The franchise restaurant companies will tell you that their biggest issue is that customers can’t find a location when they want one. They have to grow to be more convenient. There are 3 empty Subways, all on the verge of death within 2 miles of my house in the North, East, and West Directions.

I’m not saying that of the 80% of the restaurants that none of them are making a profit. I’m saying that they aren’t making a ton of profits. I’m saying that they are existing but not thriving.

You can see the Pareto Principle working in other ways. 80% of the industry press is gotten by 20% of the chains. I see Sweet Green Articles all the time, there are 20 other salad concepts that you never hear about.

80% of new franchise sales are going to the 20% of the hottest franchise brands.

Whether you agree with me or not; why is this important? It’s important because you have to understand this if you aren’t in the 20% then you have to be better. You have to be great operators, systematize and control your businesses. Eek out every dollar of profit that you can from every shift. You don’t have a choice. You have to fight and control and fight some more. Your road is harder than those concepts that are currently residing in the top 20%.

When I was on the management team at the P.F. Chang’s Tyson’s Corner in 2001. We grew weekly revenue by $80,000 a week over a 12 month period. We were hot, we had people lining up to work, we had low turnover, we used to put 10 2 Tops in the hallway of the mall at lunch time and fill them. We could do no wrong. We weren’t plagued by the problems of slower restaurants because we were in the 20%.

Things that I see in restaurants that are in the 80% that need to change:

  • They are dirty
  • They are understaffed
  • Their quality is hit and miss
  • Their food is just OK

I want to suggest to the whole industry that this is one of the toughest restaurant markets that we have ever been in. With new forms of competition, new technologies disrupting our businesses, and way to many locations.

I want to suggest that we can’t operate anymore like we did 30 or 50 years ago. We need to analyze every aspect of our businesses and determine if this is still the right way to operate based on the conditions of todays market place. This is just one example.

Waiters for lunch shifts. Lunch shifts suck in most restaurants because you don’t make that much money. In most restaurants with servers all the side work is divided up by station and you have to fill each station with staff just in case you get busy.

Instead of following this the traditional model, maybe a different approach could work.

  • Hire two full time lunch servers that work 8 hour shift and work open to close every day. (Base this off how big your restaurant is)
  • These two full-time servers do all the side work in the restaurant, they set-up lunch and they do the closing side work as well.
  • FYI: look at how your restaurant is set-up, tables, etc. look to streamline this process and create efficiencies.
  • These two full-time servers should get paid a higher hourly wage and should be treated as full time employees. If your company offers benefits they should get them.
  • Then use gig labor for the rush. Hire and train a bunch of people who do gig jobs (Uber, Lyft, Door Dash, Task Rabbit, etc.) and bring them in from 11:30 to end of rush.
  • These gig labor employees, show up and serve customers during the rush and then as soon as it is done and it is time to cut labor, get them off the clock and out the door.

This is a different way of looking at staffing a shift. It could make you very successful because all the team members are winning. The full-time employees are making great money working a full work week and getting a higher wage. The gig employees are coming in for a couple of hours, working a gig, getting some cash in their pockets, living their lives on their terms and they aren’t caught doing all the stuff that people hate about serving tables. They can get in and get out.

I will say to make these kinds of changes in our businesses, which are totally doable, we have to invest in systems and analysis of our own operations. We have to be so systematized that we can plug and play people into different roles within our businesses.

Also, we have to realize that this won’t work on every position but that shouldn’t be a reason why we don’t take advantage of it where it can work.

If you are looking to systematize your restaurants, consider the OpsAnalitica Platform. Our Food Safety and Ops Management Platform can provide you with the real-time structure and learning you need to run better operations on a shift-by-shift and location-by-location basis.

OpsAnalitica is a Food Safety and Ops Management Platform

Do you know what a Food Safety and Ops Management platform is? It is a platform that your field teams use to run the restaurants from a daily operations and food safety perspective. These platforms are relatively new, we have been around 5 years, so they don’t have as much name recognition as some of the other restaurant management apps.

With scheduling, training, inventory, POS software; you would instantly know what those software programs do and you would have at least seen one or more them in one of the restaurants you have worked at.

With Food Safety and Ops Management software you aren’t really sure what that means. Please allow me to explain how our software will help make it easier to run your restaurants and I will try to present some common use cases as well to punctuate my points.

Let’s start with Food Safety as that is the brand killer.

Our clients are using our platform every shift in every restaurant to ensure that the basic food safety checks are getting completed. That means:

  • Temping hot and cold hold food on the line
  • Cooling Logs
  • Refrigeration Checks
  • Reheat Logs
  • Sanitizer PPM concentration checks
  • Dishwasher Rinse/PPM checks
  • No Cross Contamination
  • Proper Cooler storage

With OpsAnalitica we go beyond just recording temps and logging readings. We are a real-time training and remediation platform.

Use Case: Your team member identifies a cold hold item that is temping at 50 degrees.

  1. The platform is going to bring that high temperature to the team members attention immediately.
  2. We are going to guide your employee through creating an ice bath and quick chilling the product.
  3. This could include detailed instructions or a link to a video that shows you how to prepare a proper ice bath.
  4. This process will end with the employee taking a photograph of the food quick chilling and taking another temperature reading to ensure that the food is at the proper temperature.
  5. All these steps are documented so you can prove that you took the proper steps and got the food to a safe temperature or discarded it.

Now your most senior and junior employee are guided through the proper steps to fix the issue and you are documenting that you took the correct actions.

The same is true for restaurant operations management. Every restaurant organizes itself around meal periods. Each meal period requires each employee to do the necessary set-up tasks for their position. Any missed item could result in an angry guest or loss of speed which impacts revenue and profits.

All of these set-up steps are important, they are like individual LEGO bricks and if one is missing your shift readiness suffers. With the OpsAnalitica Platform we create sheet to shelf dynamic checklists that conform to each location. We ensure that your teammates aren’t wasting time deciding what to answer or if it’s important and we have them focus on getting their set-up tasks completed efficiently.

Similarly to our Food Safety Checks, we can provide real-time task remediation and training to employees so that when they identify something is wrong they can also have all the information they need to fix the issue on the spot.

Use Case: Beverage station is not set-up prior to opening.

  1. Cashier is executing a FOH readiness checklist and identifies that someone forgot to set-up the beverage station.
  2. The Platform immediately identifies the issue to the team member.
  3. The platform provides a list of tasks that need to be accomplished to set-up the beverage station.
  4. This list of items comes equipped with pars for Iced Tea, Lemons, etc. and pictures of how the beverage station should be set-up.
  5. This employee is empowered to fix the issue in real-time before it affects guests and sales.

We’ve said this a ton of times, running restaurants is hard but not complicated. Every task of running a restaurant is generally simple by itself. What makes running restaurants hard is the sheer amount of small individual tasks that goes into every part of setting-up and running a restaurant shift.

There is too much nuance and too many little things to remember to rely on a sheet of paper posted on the wall or the memory of a senior employee. There are too many details to use an inferior app that is unable to dynamically customize checklists to each location.

At the end of the day, the OpsAnalitica Food Safety and Ops Management Platform is here to help your teams keep track of the literally 1000’s of set-up tasks that need to be accomplished each shift in every location.

We are here to highlight the good that your team members do every day so that you can praise them and raise morale. When they identify an issue we want to help them solve it in real-time so that guest satisfaction isn’t affected.

Running restaurants is hard, at OpsAnalitica, we are about helping senior management make that job a little easier for their teams.

To learn more about the OpsAnalitica Platform, click here. See first hand how we help our customers and do it for a cost that is less than the Red Book.

Ops Mgt Systems Could be as Transformative as POS Systems to the Restaurant Industry

One of the most transformative changes in the history of the restaurant industry was the invention of the POS System. Replacing the siloed cash register and giving brands real-time access to sales data did more to drive multi-unit operation expansion than any other technology. Prior to wide adoption of POS systems restaurants had only changed by a fraction since the time Jesus ate in restaurants.

The next big transformation in the restaurant industry is going to be operations management systems, like OpsAnalitica, and how the data they generate can be used to run more efficient restaurant operations with less employees.

There has been a ton of buzz around all these other types of apps or management systems: mobile ordering, delivery, inventory, and LMS’ etc.. That is because they have huge marketing and sales budgets. These systems generate efficiencies for their users and can reduce waste and time. That is what we are all battling for, to do more with less.

I don’t think anyone would say that Crunchtime with their inventory management is truly transformative. That mobile ordering is transformative, its just another form of call in ordering. I’m not saying that those technologies don’t deliver value, they do, I’m saying that they aren’t transformative, changing how you operate your entire business and the financials associated.

Ops Mgt Systems, you know them as Digital Checklist systems like OpsAnalitica, can be truly transformative to the restaurant industry. Because they, like POS Systems, provide you with real-time visibility, employee accountability, and the ability to change behavior.

I know that most of you think of these systems as just a way to replace your ineffective paper checklists with a digital version. I will admit that we have been guilty of perpetuating this stereotype as well with our marketing. We flat out compare ourselves to paper and the Red Book. If I’m honest, we shouted from the rooftops for years how OpsAnalitica could transform your businesses and that messaging fell on def ears. The restaurant industry just isn’t there yet but you will be. Data is like a drug, very addictive and once you get a taste you will want more.

All software should be implemented in a crawl, walk, run approach to ensure that it gets used and generates a ROI. If we think about OpsAnalitica in that way, your crawl period is getting off your ineffective paper checklists and getting digital checklists deployed at your restaurants. This is actually surprisingly easy with OpsAnalitica and wow’s most of our customers who are used to ineffective partners and botched roll-outs.

If you never go beyond replacing your paper checklists with digital checklists then you will be happy but in all honesty you won’t see a transformation. The transformation comes from leveraging the technology across your organization, reassessing how you operate, challenging the status quo and norms of your business, then leveraging the technology to drive increased efficiency and change.

At their root, platforms like OpsAnalitica drive behavior and facilitate human data collection. Collecting data from human process and controlling behavior across multiple locations before OpsAnalitica was nearly impossible. In that respect OpsAnalitica structures human process and provides data just like your POS does.

To truly transform the industry, companies need to move beyond just doing the normal checklists that they did on paper and managing the same way they always have but without paper. Push beyond what they know and leverage the technology to run their restaurants differently.

Here are some walk and run ideas:

  • Create a ROC (Restaurant Operations Center) that is managing OpsAnalitica for all restaurants simultaneously following up on critical notifications and late checklists. Having a few dedicated people driving system wide compliance and follow-up in real-time could ensure operations compliance across the chain.
  • Great Area Managers are hard to find. It is such a complex skill set and with patch size and time in restaurant, it is nearly impossible to be effective. Instead of paying a premium to find these Jack of all Trades multi-unit operations professionals. Wouldn’t it be easier to find cheaper specialized field team members that focus on very specific job functions: local store marketing, training, ops mgt, hiring, etc.. Leveraging a platform like OpsAnalitica to provide better visibility and accountability than an area manager ever could.
  • Training and On-boarding: our training and on-boarding systems are antiquated and based on employee memorization. This is the best job market in 50 years and restaurant turnover percentage is at 100%. The average tenure of an employee is around 50 days, you can’t afford to pay people to memorize how to do stuff. You need to get every set-up and breakdown checklist into OpsAnalitica and have your people follow the checklist vs. memorize how to do stuff. The great thing about using the checklists vs. memorization is that procedure changes are much easier because you simply change the checklist. Gone are the days of having to update the ops manual, print all new materials, do a road show and train all employees at an all hands meeting.
  • Manage data collection from the field for all your other needs, from shift logs, maintenance requests, health inspection scores, food recalls, training tests, etc.
  • These are just some of the use cases that could transform your business, the people who are best at figuring these use cases are you. You guys know what you need done, what you are being tasked to do and everyday we are suprised at how our clients are using the platform to make their jobs easier.
  • In 2009, I came up with the idea for this platform because I was the RSC Ops Leader at Quiznos and I had to find a way to report on all of our audits, we couldn’t find a software platform that was going to do what we wanted it to do, so I taught myself how to code and built my own. I built this one so you don’t have to teach yourself how to code, you can just leverage the technology to transform your business.
  • To truly transform your business, you can’t bend the technology to meet your current needs. You need to understand how the technology works, then look for opportunities to expand the software within your organization and use it to change how you operate. This is the number one reason why OpsAnalitica has the potential to be truly transformative, because it is so easily adapted and customized to meet the needs of our clients.

    We are a human data collection and task management platform. An inventory platform is just an inventory platform and online ordering is just online ordering.

    You will always need to collect data from your locations, you will always have some amount of humans working there for the foreseeable future. You need a system that can drive their behavior, collect data, provide visibility, and accountability in real-time.

    I urge you to get off your paper checklists and start using OpsAnalitica. Get comfortable with the software, and then start looking for ways to change how you operate. To not continue to operate like we did in 1980, or 1880 for that matter, but to embrace what real-time visibility can do for your business. If you want to talk about your ideas, then go to OpsAnalitica.com and chat us. I would love to discuss your vision with you and how OpsAnalitica could help you fulfill those dreams.

    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.

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