Author : Tommy Yionoulis

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The Next Big Competitive Advantage in the Restaurant Industry

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It is human nature to look forward trying to figure out what is going to be the next big thing in your industry so you can beat your competitors to the punch. I believe the next big thing in the restaurant industry is going to be technology, look how perceptive I am.

Technology and apps are presented all the time as these magic bullets that can fix your business. In a lot of cases, they can add incredible value to your business if you can get them implemented.

Implementation is the key! Identifying, Testing, and Implementing new technology across a portfolio of restaurants and ensuring that you get your ROI out of the tool requires a unique skill set and disciplined approach.

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The technology implementation skill set is the muscle that each restaurant company has to develop. It is the companies that adopt technology quickly and get an ROI on the product that are going to have the competitive advantage in the future.

I own an app company, OpsAnalitica, we have a restaurant checklist and reporting platform. Our platform can be implemented in a few hours because it is very user-friendly, and it was designed to scale from basic to advanced effortlessly. More complicated platforms can take weeks or months to get implemented.

I spent the last five years before starting OpsAnalitica doing large enterprise security consulting for Fortune 500 companies. I’ve been a part of several multi-million dollar implementations, and I would like to tell you that they all went perfectly. They didn’t.

The blame for the mediocre results of these projects should be equally spread out to all parties that were involved. It is usually a combination of factors that take a plan with so much hope and expectation into the crapper.

Here are some of the lessons I learned doing these implementations:

1. The most important rule of implementations: START SIMPLE AND ADD FUNCTIONALITY FROM THERE!!!! I can’t stress this enough, you just purchased a Ferrari piece of software. Start with the most basic functionality and get it out there to the end users. Then take their feedback and continue to roll out additional functionality over time. Trying to do too much in phase 1 is the number one reason I saw projects fail.

2. Be wary of companies that won’t help let you kick the tires of their product before you purchase, demand a free trial. At the very minimum make them show you a live demo of the tool. If they can’t do a live demo or let you see the product in action at another company, they don’t have a product that works.

3. Find out what kind of support packages and training the company offers. Use that as a negotiating point when you can’t get additional concessions on price try to get them to offer expanded support.

4. If you hire consultants be wary if they never push back – consultants that don’t push back on requirements or don’t offer their expert opinion and try to steer you to the best option are not consultants. You pay consultants to consult, to tell you that you are wrong or that you are going to pay a penalty if you do it this way. If the people you just hired to implement just say yes and do whatever you want then you aren’t getting your monies worth.

5. Ask for references and know you will never get a reference that isn’t going to tell you the product is great. Use your network and try to reach out to people who work at companies that use the tool and see if they like the product.

Technology, when implemented and being used correctly can save time, money, and drive profits. Those profits and the increased cash flow can allow you to push your competitors around on the playing field. They can allow you to increase your marketing, get better locations, open more locations, etc..

Technology, when not implemented correctly: can suck away cash, steal focus, waste valuable time, stop other projects from being funded or started and leave a horrible taste in your mouth. Technology is only better than manual processes when it works.

I hope that this blog helps you on your next project and that you start trying to strengthen your internal implementation skill set.

Dinosaur operators need to adapt or go extinct

Are you a dinosaur operator? A dinosaur operator – is a person who:

  1. Clings to the ways of the past (this doesn’t mean they are old they just aren’t comfortable with change).
  2. Is afraid of new technology – prefers pen and paper to anything digital.
  3. Has lost their intellectual inquisitiveness or doesn’t have the drive to adopt new technologies and best practices.
  4. Hasn’t mastered a new professional skill in years, is doing what they have always done.

Being a dinosaur operator doesn’t mean that the person isn’t successful or good at what they do today. No, not at all. Over time, dinosaur operators will lose their edge as their competition from other businesses and for jobs get tougher, faster, and more experience with the new technologies and best practices of today.

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The new replacing the old is the natural order of things, we are constantly learning from our previous experience and working to make things better. The issue today isn’t change, that has always been constant, it is the rate of change.

Computers, tablets, smart phones, the internet economy are driving change at a rapid pace. The iPad was released 4/3/10 and the same year Square released a mobile payment platform that runs on iPads and in 2013; they released their POS software. Do you think the big POS companies saw Sqaure POS systems being adopted by large companies like Starbucks?  Half of the people I talk to for my company, OpsAnalitica, already have tablet computers in their kitchens. Technology is permeating industries that have remained virtually the same for 1000’s of years; the restaurant industry is one of them.

If you remove computer-driven technologies some of the biggest disruptive changes in the restaurant business in the last 200 years were: cash registers, refrigeration that wasn’t powered by ice, disinfectants, and cans/preservatives. All of those technologies were just improvements on what was already being done. Computers starting with POS Systems, desktops with costing software, through tablets and mobile apps have radically changed the job, and the skills required of the chef and restaurant manager.

I was talking to a professor at one of the top Hospitality programs this week, and I was asking him about Millennials and what they want from jobs and he said:  passionate about causes, they want to customize, they interact differently, and they reject the old ways of doing things.

You can see where technology has affected Millennials with all of those traits. A person born after 1990 has always had: access to the internet; they have always seen mobile phones (the first smartphones were being sold in the mid-1990’s). Technology for them and the rate of change of technology is the norm, and it is not weird or scary. Millennials are the people you see in your restaurant all sitting at a table looking at their phones and not talking.

If we as managers don’t adopt personally and drive our businesses to adopt new technologies, we are going to be at a competitive disadvantage. As our competitors embrace new technologies and start to gain ROI from them, they will be better positioned to grow their businesses and careers.

If you have read this blog and you are a self-identified dinosaur operator, here are a couple of strategies to get you moving out of that category:

  • Get on youtube and start searching out new technologies that you have heard about in the industry. You will be amazed at the amount of free video content on everything. You will be able to educate yourself very quickly on what is happening in the business.
  • Try reverse mentoring where you grab a technology savvy team member, and you have them research something then brief you on it as a side project. It gives them the great experience of running a project, and you get the help you need to learn.

Jump in and you will find that the water is warm and not that deep.

Good luck.

 

New FDA Rules mean more Manufacturer Self-Inspections

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The new FDA rules that were released this month are going to mandate that manufacturers take more responsibility for their facilities.  Here are the points that I found most interesting:

  • Tainted foods — including recent examples such as spinach, cantaloupe and ice cream — sicken 1 in 6 Americans — or 48 million people — each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses annually.
  • “The food safety problems we experience have one important thing in common: They are largely preventable,” Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine
  • Under two new rules that take effect later this year, manufacturers of human and animal foods must submit food safety plans to the FDA showing how they keep their facilities clean and how they’ll react to possible safety issues.
  • Rather than only reacting to outbreaks, companies now will have to keep them from occurring. Manufacturers must take steps to prevent, or kill, harmful bacteria. In addition, companies should keep allergens — a major cause of food recalls — from getting from one food into another.
  • “These are not one-size-fits-all requirements,” Taylor said. “The rules are risked-based, targeted and flexible so that good outcomes are achieved in the most effective and practical way.”

Manufacturers and farmers are going to have to submit these plans to the FDA and then they are going to be required to conduct checklists and tests to ensure that they are meeting cleanliness standards.

I invite any businesses that are going to be affected by these new standards to check out OpsAnalitica.  Our platform is the most advanced inspection data collection and data analytics platform on the market today.

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Here is the full article:

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new steps Thursday to improve the cleanliness of food manufacturing plants in the wake of a string of lethal foodborne illness outbreaks.

Tainted foods — including recent examples such as spinach, cantaloupe and ice cream — sicken 1 in 6 Americans — or 48 million people — each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses annually.

“The food safety problems we experience have one important thing in common: They are largely preventable,” Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said during a morning media briefing.

Under two new rules that take effect later this year, manufacturers of human and animal foods must submit food safety plans to the FDA showing how they keep their facilities clean and how they’ll react to possible safety issues.

The new preventive measures can help ensure that foodborne illnesses and the disruptions they cause will be eliminated, Taylor said.

“American consumers have high expectations of the safety of the food supply,” he added. “For prevention to be effective, the proper steps need to be taken at each point in the food production processing to ensure hazards can never enter the system,” Taylor said. “That’s why Congress enacted [the new] rules.”

The rules come under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. President Obama signed the law in January 2011 but implementation has been delayed. The new procedures represent the first sweeping changes to U.S. food safety laws in 70 years, according to the agency.

Besides the two rules finalized Thursday, five additional food safety rules will become final in 2016.

The FDA says consumers and their pets will be protected in various ways.

Rather than only reacting to outbreaks, companies now will have to keep them from occurring. Manufacturers must take steps to prevent, or kill, harmful bacteria. In addition, companies should keep allergens — a major cause of food recalls — from getting from one food into another.

Health regulators want to expand prevention measures to farms, where contamination is harder to control than in factories. “Standards have been proposed for agricultural water, farm worker hygiene or cleanliness, compost and sanitation conditions affecting buildings, equipment and tools. These standards will apply to both domestic and imported produce,” the agency said in a news release.

Oversight of imported foods, which account for 15 percent of the U.S. food supply, will also improve. Importers will have more responsibility to ensure foods are safe and meet the same standards as domestic producers, the agency said.

“These are not one-size-fits-all requirements,” Taylor said. “The rules are risked-based, targeted and flexible so that good outcomes are achieved in the most effective and practical way.”

One expert welcomed the new safety protocols.

“These proposed updates are directly responsive to the evolving challenges of a global food supply, and illustrate the vital importance of the FDA to us all,” said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn.

Oversight of food safety is a core function of the FDA, and a job that only a government agency can perform effectively, Katz added.

Noting that Americans count on the safety of the nation’s food supply, he added, “We can do so with a bit more confidence courtesy of these new provisions.”

More information

For more on food safety, visit Foodsafety.gov.

SOURCES: David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn.; Sept. 10, 2015, news conference with: Michael Taylor, J.D., deputy commissioner, Foods and Veterinary Medicine, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Predictive analytics helps Chicago prioritize restaurant inspections

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Found a really cool article on how the city of Chicago teamed up with the Civic Consulting Alliance and researchers from Allstate Insurance’s Quantitative Research & Analytics Department to put together a predictive model using 311 calls, previous inspections, permits, and other data points to identify high risk restaurants.  Here is what I found most interesting:

  • Leverages public data to identify Chicago restaurants most likely to face health code challenges, so health inspectors to prioritize inspections for those restaurants.
  • Using 311 requests, sanitation complaints at restaurants and information on previous inspections and permits, the researchers identified a group of factors that could lead to health code violations.
  • These factors were then brought together to create a predictive analytics model that was used to identify which restaurants should be inspected first in order to stop critical violations that could lead to illnesses.
  • The model evaluation calculates risk scores for more than 10,000 Chicago food establishments using publically available data, most of which is updated nightly on Chicago’s data portal.

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Using a tool like OpsAnalitica you can generate reports and conduct analysis like the city of Chicago on your locations.  They aren’t doing anything super special they are just using data points that they collect from a couple of different systems and bringing it together to identify risk factors.  If you were doing daily line checks, temp logs, daily logs and combining that data with sales, costs, and customer service data; you could have a complete understanding of how your operations really work and what things are driving costs and reducing profits.

I have clipped the article below, or to see the original article click here.

Chicago is using predictive analytics to better ensure food safety for city residents and visitors.

The new system, built by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Department of Innovation and Technology, leverages public data to identify Chicago restaurants most likely to face health code challenges, so health inspectors to prioritize inspections for those restaurants. “The use of open data will result in a more streamlined approach to overseeing food safety, targeting our resources at higher-risk establishments without compromising safety oversight at any food business across the city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

Research for the new system was conducted in collaboration with Civic Consulting Alliance and researchers from Allstate Insurance’s Quantitative Research & Analytics Department to identify various factors that can result in a restaurant facing health code violations.

Using 311 requests, sanitation complaints at restaurants and information on previous inspections and permits, the researchers identified a group of factors that could lead to health code violations. These factors were then brought together to create a predictive analytics model that was used to identify which restaurants should be inspected first in order to stop critical violations that could lead to illnesses.

The model evaluation calculates risk scores for more than 10,000 Chicago food establishments using publically available data, most of which is updated nightly on Chicago’s data portal.

CDPH performed a simulation that allowed it to identify establishments with more violations using the predictive model than using risk categories alone. As a result of these findings, CDPH is now using the predictive model to prioritize inspections among the highest risk establishments.

“Researchers, cities and the public are able to freely access and download all the information needed to replicate the research,” said Brenna Berman, CIO of the Department of Innovation and Technology. “Releasing the data and research on GitHub allows for collaboration with other scientists and institutions to improve the city’s forecasts and allows the technique to be adopted by other cities conducting food inspections.”

Funding for the project came from a $1 million award in 2013 from the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge to develop a data-based approach to decision making.

This isn’t the first time Chicago has used analytics to protect residents from food-borne illness. In 2013, the city developed a predictive analytics model to fight its growing rat population. The Department of Innovation and Technology used 311 city requests ranging from stray animal calls to vacant and abandoned buildings as well as missing or overflowing garbage cans and restaurant code violations. Through the requests and the model built to analyze them, the city could visualize on a map where and when rat populations spiked.

The same year, researchers in Chicago created another program called Foodborne Chicago, which examined Twitter for food poisoning complaints from residents, employees and tourists in the city. The program led to 150 additional inspections by the FSD that year.

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Scientific Trick to Increase Server Tips

I was watching this YouTube video, a summary of Robert Cialdini’s book Influence.   They talked about experiments that were run in restaurants and how the server’s used the rule of reciprocation to increase tips. The reciprocation principle recognizes that people feel indebted to those who give them a gift.  The social obligation to return a gift is overwhelming in some cases, even if the original gift wasn’t wanted.  This may have been the origin of giving mints or fortune cookies when presenting the bill.

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Here are the results of the experiments:

  • When people were surveyed and asked if they received a mint would they tip more – most people said no, but the experiment showed that tips did increase.
  • Giving diners a single mint increased tips by 3%
  • Giving diners two mints quadrupled tips by 14%
  • This is the most interesting stat:
    • If the server gives the table one mint and walks away
    • Stops and returns to the table and says “For you nice people here is another mint.”
    • Tips went up 23%.
    • It wasn’t what was given but how the mints were given that increased the tips.
  • The key to reciprocation:
    • Give First
    • Ensure what you give is personalized and unexpected.

I encourage our restaurant manager’s to run this experiment in their own restaurants and we would love to hear how it works.

Running Restaurants is Getting Harder – Part 3

To read part two click here

Labor cost is another issue that is going to affect restaurant operations. We can’t just look at labor as bodies and do we have enough. We are going to have to redesign our entire operations strategy to minimize labor and operating complexity so we can operate with fewer people in the future. We were all trained to freak out when we saw a server at $2.85 standing around on the clock imagine how that is going to be when your waiter costs you $15 an hour.

Labor cost is going to affect our make vs. buy decisions on menu items, the complexity of our menu items, and how we serve guests.

Daily restaurant operations from cooler temperatures to dining room cleanliness and everything in between has been an area devoid of data for decision making.  This is crazy because it is our operations that drive sales not the other way around. The reason for this is because there hasn’t been a way to easily collect, store, and aggregate/report on this data, until now.

The invention of the smartphone and tablet have given us the hardware that we need to collect data easily from around our locations. Platforms like OpsAnalitica with our ability to capture, aggregate, and report; allow restaurant managers to look at how operations are running across all of their locations.

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With our advanced reporting engine, you can merge your operations data with your cost and sales data and for the first time you can see how operations affect costs and sales. This increased visibility is a game changer for the industry.

There are things in your operations that you think you know today that with data we could show you you’re wrong. They look to be causal because you don’t look at them every shift, every day, consistently. When you capture data points consistently across your locations, and you can compare those data points to costs or sales you will see that there isn’t a correlation.

We are seeing that people are leaving money on the table or not realizing their full sales potential because of small operations issues that aren’t being paid attention to on a daily basis. Once again because these issues happen in real time and because they aren’t being tracked in a format that allows them to be analyzed they get missed in the fog of running a restaurant. People have operational issues that they don’t even know exist, and often times the solution doesn’t cost any additional money.  The solution is a slight change in how they do something and they can get out of their own way.

In a lot of ways, it’s like flying a plane with no instruments.  You can see what’s in front of you, but you don’t know where you are going.

Don’t fool yourself either, every penny and dollar of cost that you can wrench out of your operations cost is worth it. Walmart has been able to be consistently the low-cost leader and one of the largest companies in the world because of their focus on efficiency and cost control. If Walmart used the same back office and fulfillment infrastructure today as it did even ten years ago, it’s prices would be much higher. Do you know how they do it; operations data!

They know everything about every part of their business, and they track it. Like our industry they use technology like registers to capture some parts of the data but they have also had to go out and invest in other systems to capture other forms of operations data. They use their data and analysis advantage to win on the playing field.

The same is true for restaurants who are operating on the edge of efficiency. They get every penny of waste out of their operations, and they can use those profits to press their advantage in the marketplace.

What is crazy is that you see that profit advantage every day; here are some examples:
* Getting the endcap location in a strip center vs. being stuck in the middle. That takes cash flow
* Redesigning a website or implementing mobile ordering or curbside pickup
* Expanding number of locations
* Advertising
* Being able to keep prices lower than competitors which create a marketing advantage

It takes money to grow and when you are running efficient operations it is easier to generate the capital needed to push your competition around in the marketplace.

In conclusion, the restaurant business is getting harder because there are more outside factors that are determining success at the unit level. At the same time the tools available to operators at the unit level are getting more advanced and cheaper, giving restaurant manager’s huge advantages over their predecessors.

We have always been an operations business, I think for a lot of people, that was limited to executing on service and food. Our business will always be about taking care of the guests, but it has expanded into creating management systems that will allow you to capture data and make data-driven decisions vs. gut decisions.

Gone are the Mel’s Diner days where Mel yelled at the waitresses and cooked eggs. Mel today would be sitting at a table with a tablet trying to figure out how the avian flu was affecting egg prices and redoing his website and menu.

 

Check out this short video to learn more about OpsAnalitica

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Running Restaurants is Getting Harder – Part 2

To read part one click here

Food trucks are another segment of the industry that have prospered from wireless technology. Until recently it was incredibly expensive to take mobile credit card payments. Now it’s comparable to hardwired credit card payments. Mobile technology has made it easier for food trucks to service customers.

It used to be the only place you saw food trucks were construction sites and fairs where cash was the only form of payment taken. Now they are parked in high rent districts right next to brick and mortar restaurants for the cost of parking.

Not to mention food trucks who tweet their specials and locations throughout the day, can come to customers and can create rushes outside of normal dining periods maximizing sales time and their mobile advantage.

Technology is changing the industry. Depending on what side of some of these issues you’re on will determine if you think it is good or bad. For every manager that embraces new technology and can implement and run their businesses more efficiently, there is a Dinosaur Manager, who is finding it tougher to compete and make money.

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The one thing that is for certain is that restaurant industry isn’t an industry anymore where you go to work because you want to avoid technology. Restaurant managers need to be tech savvy, or they are going to have a hard time finding the really good positions.

With all of these things happening simultaneously it can feel overwhelming to say the least. How do you move forward, stay competitive, do everything you need to do while you have customers in your location every day.

Not doing anything and hiding from reality is not the answer. It is by far the easiest way to proceed up until the day you shut down your location and lay off all of your employees.

Making decisions off of incomplete data isn’t an option either. We live in the world where data is available to us, and we have to use it to make smart decisions and not react in a knee-jerk manner.

For instance raising prices significantly above competitors in the market just because protein prices are increasing could be a quick fix for food cost but hurt sales and anger customers. Remember, social media, Yelp reviews, will expose knee jerk reactions for all to see.

The most successful restaurants are developing restaurant operations systems that are repeatable and flexible, which allow you to make data-driven decisions. For you technophobes, this is going to require you to start using technology to help.

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Food cost and rising commodity prices. We recently saw a demo of a tool, ChefMetric, that is a quick and easy food cost calculator. You add your order guide and recipes to the system, and you can easily calculate your food cost and what you should be charging at different food cost percentages.

Knowing your plate cost in an environment where there is a lot of commodity fluctuation will allow you to make adjustments to portion sizes and core ingredients quickly and easily. Take that one step further and maybe leave cuts and sizes off of menu descriptions, let your waiters give those answers, so you can make adjustments without having to reprint menus when you do.

Example:

  • Today’s Description: A delicious 10oz NY Strip sliced to….
  • New Description: A delicious USDA Prime Steak sliced to….

To read part 3 click here

Check out this short video to learn more about OpsAnalitica

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Running Restaurants is Getting Harder – Part 1

If you are a restaurant manager responsible for one location or thousands of locations, then you need to keep reading.

Is running restaurants getting harder?

Profitability is being squeezed from every direction. From $15 hr minimum wages, increased competition, commodity prices, and technology to name a few.

When I came up in the industry in the 80’s and 90’s running restaurants was physically hard. You worked 80 hours a week, and you almost always worked on weekends and holidays. There were a lot of managers burning out.

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Now it seems like managing restaurants is still physically hard but it’s also mentally hard. You have to concern yourself with gas prices, be on the forefront of technology, and government affairs. You can’t just provide great food and service with a smile anymore and expect to cruise.

We have new $15 minimum wage laws being put into effect across the country, if it hasn’t hit your state yet, don’t worry it is coming. After $15 minimum wages, my bet will be more breaks and shorter shifts.

We have commodity prices being affected heavily by oil and corn prices making menu staples more expensive than they were just a few years ago. Because corn is no longer just corn it is an alternative fuel when oil prices go higher corn prices also rise making it more expensive to feed livestock, to transport food to market, etc.

We are still recovering from several years of drought that drove up feed prices and took their toll on cattle stocks; we should start to see more cattle supply in 2016 & 2017.

Commodity prices fluctuating means that you have to know your plate cost and adjust your menus more frequently or run the risk of running higher than budgeted food costs. Adjusting menus and reprinting carry their costs.

Technology has been a blessing and curse depending on where you sit. Technology is increasing competition in the restaurant industry in several ways.

It is cheaper to start restaurants today than it was in the past. It used to take years of work and lots of money to develop and implement restaurant management systems. Now POS and back office systems have come so far down in price that any restaurant can have a world-class inventory, register, checklist, and accounting system. At NRA this year there was a Free POS system as long as you used their credit card processing.

Before cloud based apps, if you wanted to have a system like OpsAnalitica you would have had to build it from scratch. Developing enterprise level software is incredibly cost prohibitive and in the past ensured that only the largest restaurant chains could afford to have advanced systems.

Our platform was originally conceived when I worked for a national sandwich franchisor with over 4,000 locations. The features in our platform were built to work in a system with a lot of locations and complexity. Now an individual restaurant owner can use the OpsAnalitica checklist and reporting platform for around $1 a day and have the same tools and advantages as their chain competitors.

Restaurant websites, a relatively new requirement in the industry, are getting easier to build and maintain. At NRA this year there was a vendor who had people building their websites on the floor of the show.

In our town, we have a local 4 location Italian chain. Their website and online ordering portal, in my opinion, are as good as Pizza Hut’s; I have used them both in the last couple of weeks. Before the internet, you would have to spend millions of dollars to compete with a Pizza Hut or Dominoes on an ordering system. Now you can get it for pennies on the dollar and as a template that you just plug your logo, menu, and photos into and play.

Technology has made it possible for single locations to reach outside of their normal trade area. Take GrubHub for example, a business that can handle a lot of sales volume can implement GrubHub and can have food delivery outsourced.

They can start impacting restaurants miles away that in the past would never have had to worry about their existence. You now have customers that are close to your location ordering from your competitor when in the past they would have been eating at your establishment.

To read part two click here

Check out this short video to learn more about OpsAnalitica

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What is the deal with GMO’s?

I would like to thank Chef Russell Furdell from Chef Resources for sending me this Slate.com article on GMO’s.  We usually like to cut and paste these types of articles so you can just read them here, but this one is so long and has so many pictures that it wasn’t going to look good.

Here is the URL to the original article:  Unhealthy Fixation: The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling them will not make you safer.

I feel like the case on GMO’s is similar to other modern issues, global warming, that have become so politicized that it’s hard to find the truth.

I thought the article was informative, it cited scientific studies and did a nice job of showing the history of GMO’s.  It is a long article, but I think it worth a read.

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The Value of Pre-Shift Meetings

I had the opportunity in 2002 to go through hospitality and customer service training similar to what the Ritz Carlton organization uses.  This program was implemented at one of the premier shopping malls in the country, The Grove in Los Angeles. I was a Concierge Services Manager at the mall. Our concierge team was so good that we won the 2002 Wall Street Journal Battle of the Concierges. We beat the W Hotel in San Francisco and the Ritz in NYC.

 The training program was simple and straight forward:

  1. Intense customer service training before new employees interact with guests.
  2. Wallet card with customer service guidelines on it.
  3. Memorization of customer service guidelines.
  4. Customer service test, must pass before assuming position.
  5. Daily Pre-shift Meeting for all employees including managers.
I want to focus on the pre-shift meeting aspect of the system because it was key to the overall implementation of the program and what maintained our customer service standards after the initial training.
Over my years of managing restaurants I have built upon that foundation and created the OpsAnalitica Pre-shift Methodology that I would like to share with you today.
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Your Pre-shift is broken into the following sections:
  1. Customer Service Tenant
    • This is one of 10 to 15 customer service tenants that you train and hold your team responsible for implementing.
  2. Quick explanation of the service tenant as a story.
    • Make the story relatable and short.
  3. Team member Experience
    • A team member shares a real life experience where they discuss a time when they gave or received service highlighted in the service tenant.
    • How did that make them or the guest feel?
  4. Important shift Information
    • 86’d items
    • Specials
  5. Quote or Joke of the day
    • Share a quote or joke of the day.
    • Make sure joke is appropriate for your audience.
  6. Shift contest
    • Every shift you should run a contest to motivate the team and you reward the winners with a meal, or credit, or post shift drink, etc.
      • You can run longer contests, like bottles of wine in a month but you really have to work to keep the team motivated and the prize has to be a lot bigger. Sometimes distributors will provide the prize.
    • Serving guests can become monotonous, use contest to motivate your team and to focus them on high contribution margin or items that are nearing expiration. By using contests to move these types of products you can lower waste and increase profits.
      • When I worked at Changs over a decade ago the food cost on Chicken Lettuce Wraps was $.39 an order and they sold for $6.95. Chicken Lettuce Wraps had a 6% food cost.  Don’t you want to be incenting your servers to sell items that have high contribution margins?
    • Make sure you announce the winner of last shift’s contest at the next Pre-shift meeting.
    • Examples of server games:
      • Server Bingo
      • Ticket times contests
      • Food or drink Item contest
      • Compliment contests
      • Comment card contests
I’ve seen first hand at a Changs the power of pre-shifts. Taking that couple of minutes before every shift to focus your team on service, give them a goal, and communicate vital information works wonders. I was a part of a management team that increased weekly sales by 50k a week from 125 to over 170k a a week in an 8 month period and pre-shifts were a major part of the strategy.
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