Creating a World Class Sanitation Program for your Business in the COVID-19 Era

The New COVID-19 World

We are in the COVID-19 Era which is creating a new paradigm in how we interact with people and objects that we touch. The COVID-19 virus is highly contagious, either through direct contact with a COVID infected person or by touching something that has COVID-19 germs on it. What makes this even worse is that COVID-19 germs can live on hard shiny surfaces for up 72 hours.

Like many of you, I’m sure already know, but it bears repeating, a person who is infected with COVID-19 may not show any symptoms for at least 7 days with 97% of people showing some symptoms by 11 days. The infected person is contagious that entire period.

Meaning that there are people walking around right now shedding COVID-19 germs on objects, interacting with people, who do not know they are sick and are spreading the virus around.

That is a new reality and we as business owners need to recognize that our customers will need new public space bubbles and demand businesses engage in increased sanitation protocols to keep them safe during interactions.

Being exposed to COVID-19 can result in a bare minimum of having to self-isolate for 14 days and at maximum could result in life-threatening illness. Something else to consider, in the near future, a person who is sick with COVID-19, will have a contact trace done on them, this is what they do today in South Korea and across Asia.

Contact tracing is where you have to identify each person you came into direct contact with and businesses you visited over the last 7 to 10 days so that they can isolate, get tested, and go through contact tracing as well. Meaning that 1 person could cause 10’s to 100’s of people to have isolate and get tested.

This could be devastating to a business or a brand if you are the source point of an outbreak.

Right now the US isn’t engaging in contact tracing today because we are in full-blown outbreak mode right now and the resources and the systems don’t exist to do this. Once the curve is flattened and we go back out into society, contact tracing will be a big part of the procedures for containing COVID-19 moving forward. The watchwords are Isolate, Test, Contact Trace, Rinse & Repeat.

In the future, you can expect that groups of people who have been exposed to COVID-19 will be isolated for 14 days while the rest of us are able to interact in society vs. these huge shutdowns that we are in now.

This is a big deal but also an opportunity for business owners to differentiate themselves by really thinking through how to create an atmosphere that is safe and reassuring for customers.

Sanitation

I work in the restaurant industry so we are very familiar with sanitation, especially in kitchens. For a lot of you sanitation is going to be a new concept as you will have to be sanitizing your business throughout the day as customers come and go.

I’m taking these guidelines from the CDC for cleaning schools.

Know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

How do I know what to Sanitize and Disinfect?

We are going to introduce the concept of Human TouchPoints. Human TouchPoints are exactly what they sound like they are the things that humans touch in your business. These touchpoints could contain COVID-19 germs and be a point where they are spread to other customers and employees.

Our goal, in the new COVID-19 world, is to reduce Human TouchPoints and Unnecessary Human Interactions wherever possible. Contactless is the new standard that customers will be judging businesses on.

What we recommend doing is a risk assessment of your business to identify where you are going to need to focus.

Here is how you can do that.

  1. Enter your business from outside.
  2. Pretend you have COVID-19 germs all over your hands.
  3. Re-enact a typical customer interaction in your business.
  4. Write down all of the different things that as a customer you touch or interact with throughout your visit.
  5. Everything you touch or come into contact with needs to be written down as they will need to be sanitized upon you concluding your interaction.
  6. As you are conducting this exercise, pretend to sneeze or cough and try to determine what impact that could have on your customers, employees, and property.
  7. Also, pay attention to social distancing during these interactions, are their times when the customer and the employee are too close to each other and could put each other at risk of spreading COVID-19.
  8. When looking at human interactions, ask yourself, is this completely necessary? Is there a way I could remove this interaction or automate it using an app or technology to make the process more contactless.
  9. Don’t forget about your employees. Are they in a safe distance from each other and what things do they touch throughout a shift that might pass COVID-19 germs to other employees? Registers, phones, keyboards, water coolers, doorknobs, etc..

Once, you have completed this initial audit you will be in a position to start optimizing your operations. You are going to first focus on reducing as many Human TouchPoints as possible. Some things will be easy, for instance, maybe you can move to contactless or app payment, then you can get rid of credit card machines and pens. Some things, like railings and doorknobs, are required and therefore you will have to be sanitizing those items on a schedule.

The businesses that do a good job of moving their operations to a contactless or more contactless state are going to impress their customers and make them feel safe and secure doing business. Take this opportunity to really streamline your steps of service and interactions and rethink how you do business.

There are two kinds of Sanitation you are going to be engaging in:

  1. Immediately After Use
  2. Schedules Sanitization

Immediately After Use means that interaction is complete and the employee will immediately sanitize the area to kill any germs. This would be chairs, pens, tables, phones, etc. that a customer used or touched during their interaction.

Scheduled Sanitation is the process of sanitizing and disinfecting items around your property on a schedule based on how busy you are. If you don’t get that many customers during a day, you may just sanitize every 4 hours. If you are very busy, you may be sanitizing every 30 minutes. Generally, scheduled sanitation is going to be focused on those human touchpoints that must exist. Knobs, counters, railings, buttons, screens, keyboards, phones. Pretty much anywhere people touch on a regular basis.

It will be impossible to have every human touch point completely disinfected 100% of the time and that is ok. You just need to have a mitigation strategy in place. Your mitigation strategy needs to be in place to mitigate the effects of germs being passed to people. I believe that we will see sanitizer and Clorox wipes everywhere in the near future as they are going to make people feel better that they can double check or wipe down surfaces they are going to be coming into contact with. It might also be a good idea to have masks and gloves available for customers and employees upon request. Obviously at the time that I’m writing this blog, those items are in high demand and should be reserved for medical personnel but the belief is that in the very near future we will have an excess and it would be fine to maintain a stock of those items at your business.

Offering a customer a Clorox wipe or sanitizer or pro-actively wiping down a chair or counter will go along way with customers who are very concerned about COVID-19 germs.

Other Things to Consider while Sanitizing

  1. Always use approved Sanitizer and disinfecting solutions.
  2. Always follow the instructions on those solutions.
  3. Allow surfaces to air dry, wiping surfaces dry with a cloth can lead to cross-contamination or a reinfecting of an area.
  4. Have chemicals present for different types of materials, like cloth and concrete.
  5. You are never going to be able to ensure a 100% germ-free environment and that is totally ok. That is why we include the mitigation strategy items to make up for that.
  6. This sanitation process has to be rooted in the reality of your business and it shouldn’t interfere with your operations.

Sanitation Theater

I want to introduce the concept of Sanitation Theater, it is making a big deal of the sanitation activities and the reduction of human interactions that you are doing to ensure that your customers are and feel safe and secure doing business with you.

I would argue that sanitation theater is almost as important as actually sanitizing. We are all feeling a lot of stress and anxiety right now about being in public, touching things, being too close to other people. Until there is a vaccine and our medical system can effectively treat COVID-19 these feelings are going to be a reality.

It isn’t going to be enough to have an effective sanitation program. You are going to have to be able to communicate that program and the lengths you are going to protect your employees and customers to them. You are going to have to show them what you are doing and why.

Your customers are going to need to feel comfortable and safe doing business with you. Don’t be afraid or shy in communicating what you are doing because it is going to be a differentiator and could help you drive sales.

Sanitation Software

I would highly recommend that you invest in a platform or program to help you manage and document your new sanitation procedures. Especially if you have multiple locations and you are not able to be in each location every day.

The benefits of using a software platform to manage your sanitation program:

  1. You are going to be adding a lot of new sanitizing tasks to your daily routines.
  2. You need a program that guides your employees through those processes to ensure that everything is completed on time and on schedule.
  3. Data is coming in rapidly from around the world, having a centrally managed solution that is easy to update and implement will be imperative in keeping your sanitation procedures up to date across all of your locations.
  4. You will want to review that each of your locations and employees are executing these procedures because it is going to be imperative to your brand that you are operating safe locations.
  5. You are going to want to document your sanitizing procedures and also that you are executing them, just to be on the safe side moving forward. I fear that after this initial outbreak that litigious people are going to start being litigious. To protect your business it makes sense to document your actions to show your due diligence.

We at OpsAnalitica have been working with the restaurant industry for years, helping multi-unit restaurant operators manage their daily operations and food safety compliance. Many restaurant companies use us today to manage their restaurant sanitation processes. We have 1000’s of locations and operate in 18 countries.

There is no difference between sanitizing a restaurant, hospital, business, school, etc.. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you implement our Sanitation Software Platform to help you protect your employees, customer, and brand, please click here.

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Area/District Managers Should Stop Visiting Restaurants During the COVID-19 Crisis

I’m writing this in early April of 2020 and I’m setting the stage of the current environment so readers of this blog in the future will understand the situation here in the US at this time. 2/3 + of the US is on mandatory social distancing, stay at home isolation through 4/30/20, restaurants are only allowed to sell take-out and delivery, and we are two to four weeks away from the dreaded peak of cases.

If you are a restaurant without a delivery or takeout business channel you are probably closed and you are worried about ever being able to re-open. The National Restaurant Association is predicting that 30,000 units have already closed permanently. This is the new reality and this isolation only went into effect 2 1/2 weeks ago.

Currently, I have clients that are still open and operating because of their robust delivery and take out models and their Area Managers are still visiting their restaurants in their local patches.

AREA/DISTRICT MANAGERS NEED TO STOP VISITING THEIR RESTAURANTS IMMEDIATELY!

An area manager that is infected with COVID-19 and who didn’t show symptoms for the average time period of 7 to 10 days could visit 5 to 10 restaurants, or more. Exposing those employees to the COVID-19 germs.

The following guidelines come directly from the state of Washington’s Dept of Health, most states are following similar guidelines here, I chose this one because it was very easy to understand:

Look at the 3rd bullet point: being within 6 feet of an infected person for about 10 minutes. That is all that it takes. The bottom paragraph states what you are supposed to do.

“You should monitor your health for fever, cough, and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. YOU SHOULD NOT GO TO WORK OR SCHOOL AND SHOULD AVOID PUBLIC PLACES FOR 14-DAYS.

The reason for this isolation is that you can be sick and contagious with COVID-19 for 7 to 10 days without having any symptoms. You could be infecting people for a week before you get your first fever or sniffle.

Because Area Managers are visiting restaurants, any customers that come into contact with employees who get sick have to do the same.

I’m not trying to be overly dramatic but having your Area Managers visiting their restaurants is exposing your brand, your employees, and your customers to an incredible risk.

The whole point of this blog is to avoid this:

A worse case scenario is that an Area Manager spreads the COVID-19 virus to multiple restaurants, resulting in their shutdown for a period of 14 days and the requirement of a major deep cleaning.

The part that is going to damage the brand immensely is going to be the public acknowledgement that customers who visited those restaurants are going to need to isolate, get tested, etc..

This could ruin confidence in your brand and will hurt the restaurant industry as whole as people will rethink eating from any restaurants during this time.

Some unlucky chain or restaurant is going to be the first. It is inevitable, and it is going to happen in the next couple of weeks or month. There are simply too many people that are infected right now that don’t have a clue that they are sick.

Do everything you can to not let it be you, I fear that very few brands could come back from that.

We recognize the need for Area Managers, they are a very important part of the multi-unit management infrastructure of our restaurants. We need to get them the tools they need so they can be affective from managing from home. We cannot risk them getting sick or exposing the units to unnecessary risk during this period.

We are hosting a webinar on how to make area managers more effective from home. You can click this link to sign-up: https://calendly.com/oa-sales/webinar-enabling-field-team-wfh

FYI: after the webinar is over, we’ll post a video in the blog of the webinar content.

OrderUp: Recap of Restaurant Operators being Duped by Silicon Valley’s Big Money

In this episode of the OrderUp Show Tommy recaps his blog on the big money that has been funneled into 3rd party delivery companies that has been used to convince restaurant operators that delivery will solve all their problems.

Well the data suggests otherwise. Take a listen below.

https://soundcloud.com/orderupshow/30-silicon-valley-big-money-is-trying-to-trick-restaurant-operators-recap

OrderUp: Murk Maddock Interview

In this episode of the OrderUp Show Tommy sits down with Murk Maddock, an ops services guru,. They discuss Murk’s career and his thoughts on the state of the restaurant industry today. He’s a very interesting person take a listen below.

https://soundcloud.com/orderupshow/29-interview-with-murk-maddock-ops-services-guru

How to fix Subway

In this two part series of the OrderUp Show Tommy walks us through the rise and fall of the largest sandwich chain in the world.

He also gives his thoughts on what he would do to save the chain. He’s got experience in this area as he was involved with a very similar situation in the late 2000’s with another iconic sandwich chain out of Denver.

Give it a listen at your leisure. It has been broken in to two separate podcast episodes below.

Part 1:

https://soundcloud.com/orderupshow/27-how-i-would-fix-subway-part-1

Part 2:

https://soundcloud.com/orderupshow/28-how-i-would-fix-subway-part-2

Silicon Valley Big Money Is Trying to Trick Restaurant Operators

As I have been watching the industry over the last couple of years, I’ve concluded that the big Private Equity and Venture Capital firms from Silicon Valley are trying to hoodwink the restaurant industry.

What are the five big initiatives that most large restaurant companies have been focused on in the past couple of years:

  1. New POS Systems (Toast, Par, Oracle)
  2. Delivery (Uber Eats, Door Dash, Grubhub, Postmates)
  3. Carry Out
  4. Mobile Ordering
  5. LMS Systems (Learning Management Systems)

Have you ever asked yourself why you have been thinking about or focusing on these initiatives? It’s because these companies have raised millions/billions of dollars across their industries and they have been marketing/selling to you in every way possible.

Here at OpsAnalitica we have never raised money, we are bootstrapped and proud of it,  but we know a lot of people that have. For those of you who might not be as familiar with Venture Capital or Private Equity money, here is a crash course.

  • You trade equity/shares in your company for cash.
  • Investors are looking for Unicorns, Google was a unicorn, they give tons of money to companies to get them to grow as quickly as possible.
  • When a company raises 100 million dollars, they don’t always get all 100 million on day 1. They might get 33 million on day 1 and then they have promises to get the other 66 million over the next 12 to 18 months if they make their numbers.
  • If a company deploys the money and grows by some agreed upon metrics, they get more money. If they miss their numbers, then the investors can pull their future investments and the company runs out of cash very quickly.
  • These investors want you to spend as much money as you can as quickly as possible to try and generate as much growth/market share as possible.
  • This isn’t about responsibly spending money, they don’t want you to stretch this money out for 10 years, they want it completely spent in 18 months. Fast is the name of the game.
  • The belief is that you can grow market share and customer base quickly then you can figure out profitability when you are big enough.
  • When these guys get money, they hire the best of the best as quickly as possible. They focus on Marketing, and Sales People.
  • If you ever watched HBO’s Silicon Valley you see what it was like for those guys. Also, it is a hilarious show.

Over the last five years or so, the products I mentioned above, POS’s, Delivery, LMS’s, Carry Out, Mobile Apps have all been vying for a dominant share of the restaurant market. These companies have been getting acquired or raising massive amounts of capital to grow and to establish themselves as the number 1 players in their spaces.

Here is an article from 2018, The Spoon Blog, $3.5 billion invested in Food Delivery Start-ups This Year.

3.5 Billion, lets be conservative and say that 2 Billion of those dollars were deployed in selling restaurants and customers that food delivery was a must have.

Let’s talk POS Systems, look at this article from Venture Beat Toast POS raised $500 million dollars with a 2.7 Billion dollar valuation. This articles takes you through a series of other POS company capital raises that easily exceed over a billion dollars.

If you have been going to the NRA show over the last couple of years, you cannot spit without hitting a POS company.

LMS systems, aren’t as sexy as POS systems and Delivery but they have been raising money as well. Look at this article from Elearningside.com. These guys in this article have raised between 500 million and 1 billion dollars.

My point is this, that these companies have been getting billions of dollars in free money that they have been using to tell restaurant companies that they need their products to be successful.

The ROI numbers for the restaurants aren’t jiving with the marketing.

Remember, when you take 100’s of millions of dollars in investments, you can make yourself look huge, credible, and successful overnight. You can have a software platform, marketing & sales teams, conferences, ad’s on every type of media, public relations articles and interviews for your executives on TV, billboards across every city and airport, literally in a couple of weeks.

Raising money not generating revenue becomes the story, because people wouldn’t invest in your company if you weren’t growing and making real money, right? WeWork and Uber!

Because this type of investing is relatively new we sometimes forget that these companies are paper tigers, they haven’t generated their operating captial from actually being successful, organically fueling their growth through happy satisfied customers that got an ROI from their investment in their services. They are getting handed billions of dollars in cash and told to spend it.

Everyone is buying into it, every time we talk with an enterprise client they seem to have another project going around one of the aforementioned systems or platforms. Are those platforms generating an ROI?

Let’s look at the reality in the market today. As of  the end of January 2020, 3 restaurant companies filed bankruptcy in the last 10 days: Bar Louie, Village Inn & Baker Square, and Krystals. All of these companies had delivery and POS systems. I would hazard to guess that they had LMS systems as well. You could call in and order food or do it online and pick it up.

These companies all bought into the hype of the marketing and sales but it wasn’t enough to save them. Why? Because it doesn’t matter if you have a great POS system and Delivery if no one wants to eat your food. 

Restaurant customers care about the basics of the restaurant experience: clean restaurants, safe and delicious food, served by nice people, they care about sticky floors and tables, clean bathrooms, they care about wait times and food that doesn’t have them sitting on the can 30-minutes after they eat it.

The restaurant industry is in one of the toughest most competitive markets it has ever faced. I’ve learned from my own experience working at corporate for a large restaurant chain that when times get financially tough the first thing that goes is a focus on the basics of running great restaurants and delivery exceptional experiences.

The restaurant companies stop executing on the basics at the store and corporate level. Once you aren’t executing on the basics, then nothing else matters and nothing you do to increase revenue will work. As things get worse the leadership team starts looking for Hail Marry’s, delivery was that for a lot of chains.

Here is the reality, if nobody wants to come and eat in your restaurants because your operators aren’t delivering the Basics of good restaurant management and service, they sure as hell aren’t going to pay extra to have that horrible experience delivered to their homes. A fancy POS, better training, better mobile ordering experience, none of those are going to work either.

In this RestaurantBusinessOnline.com about Bar Louie’s bankruptcy they sited “The inconsistent brand experience coupled with increased competition and the general decline in customer traffic visiting traditional shopping locations and malls, resulted in less traffic.”

Inconsistent brand experience is code for bad operations and gross food. Delivery and mobile ordering is supposed to fix these issues of declining mall traffic because it shouldn’t matter where you are located right?

The point is that in the last five years as the labor and restaurant market has gone haywire that a lot of restaurant chains started to put all of their hopes into these highly marketed solutions to get their businesses back to profitability and lost sight of the basics of running great restaurants. That loss of focus is putting them into a hole.

One last dig at delivery as the savior of all things: in 2018 Subway inked deals with all 4 major delivery platforms, throwing 9,000 plus restaurants on delivery. It was the largest system to go on delivery at that time. Subway’s decline is staggering and reminds me of my days at Quiznos. Delivery isn’t working for them because nobody wants to go to their restaurants and they have more of them anyone else.

Here are some restaurant statistics that kind of drive home the importance of focusing on the basics of restaurant management first:

This is from the Steritech Diners Dish 2018 Customer Survey, let’s first look at basic restaurant cleanliness: 

Let’s look at the impact that a foodborne illness outbreak could have:

Here are some quick delivery statistics:

Now lets look at some statistics around employee turnover from Seven Shifts. The fact is that training is important but that we have to move away from our traditional method of memorization based training to a more business process oriented approach.

The fact is that employees arent staying long enough to warrent teaching them to memorize things. This is where checklists and daily processes with a training back-up can improve employee efficiency. To learn more about how Opsanalitica can help you improve employee efficiency and business process, click here

I know I through a lot at you in this blog. What I want you to take away from this blog post is the following:

  1. That the delivery, pos, and LMS companies have litterally spent billions of dollars marketing and selling to you that their solutions are going to change you world.
  2. None of those solutions will help your business if you don’t have a restaurant that is already popular and focused on the basics of great restaurant management and customer experiences.
  3. If your restaurants are hurting financially, double down on great experiences and the basics and get those inlign first before you add new sales channels. 

I’m going to leave you with one last thought around what is happening in the industry. My business partner got this in his daily email about restaurant technology.  

Red Lobster is going to grow through delivery, I don’t even want to guess what that is going to taste like. Grubhub says it can’t make 3rd party delivery work.

Grubhub was supported by millions of dollars of other people’s capital.

Please, please, please return to focusing on the basics of great restaurant management, systematize your operations, put all of your emphasis on wowing your customers, and your business will grow fast and sustainably.

Then when you are just crushing it, all these technologies will take you to the next level.

We at OpsAnalitica can help you rock the basics of running your restaurants and improve your business processes.

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.

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