Audio Blog – Grow Restaurant Sales Through Better Operations

Below is the audio version of our very popular blog, The Only Way to Sustainably Grow Restaurant Sales is Through Better Operations.

Subscribe to our podcast Order Up – The Restaurant Ops Show on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, and Tunein.

Audio Blog – Interview with Ryan Gromfin The Restaurant Boss

The first Order Up – The Restaurant Ops Show interview is with The Restaurant Boss, Ryan Gromfin.

Ryan has vast experience in the industry and helps thousands of restaurant operators on a daily basis run better restaurants. He’s a great interview. Check it out below.

Subscribe to our podcast on the popular services: SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, Tunein.

Reducing Food Costs and Running Safer Restaurants with Checklists

Busy Kitchen

Back in February we did a webinar with Ryan Gromfin, The Restaurant Boss, entitled Reducing Food Costs and Running Safer Restaurants. This is a straight training webinar on how to use restaurant checklists to run better operations and increase profits. Ryan is a cool dude and we kept it light with real world stories and examples. There is a special offer at the end of the webinar to schedule a meeting with us to discuss your restaurant checklist needs and to get some free coaching. We are honoring the pricing and the offers made in this webinar so if you want, you can sign-up and take advantage.

Please enjoy this webinar on using restaurant checklists to run better operations.

If the webinar doesn’t load in your browser, click here to watch in YouTube.

We have made several enhancements to the Inspector since this webinar was recorded, to see the latest functionality I invite you to click here to watch a short two-minute overview video.

My Non-Scientific Prediction that Chipotle’s Sales are Still Down

The title says it all in this blog post, this prediction, some could say a safe one, is based on nothing but my experience last week.  I live in Denver and happened to be grabbing lunch on Evans Ave over by my alma mater the University of Denver.  There on Evans Ave is a shrine to big burrito lovers everywhere the original Chipotle store.

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One block away, one block closer to campus, is a local Colorado burrito chain, Illegal Pete’s.  Illegal Pete’s is a Chipotle clone; they might disagree with that description, but they sell the same size and style burritos that Chipotle made a staple in American cuisine.  Illegal Pete’s claim to fame is that they mix up the burrito ingredients before rolling it up.

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I agree that this isn’t the greatest picture of the Illegal Pete’s store, but I wasn’t trying to capture the store front I was trying to capture the line out of the door.

Something that you can’t know from these photos, you would only know if you had eaten in these restaurants is that the original Chipotle is small.  The distance from the door to the counter is maybe 15 feet.  It seats maybe 30 people.  As an example of how small this restaurant is, they have a storage room in their basement and a trap door in the floor that they raise to go down and get dry storage items.

In contrast, the Illegal Pete’s is much bigger the line area is two or three times bigger than that of the Chipotle, and it has a full bar.

I’ve lived in the University of Denver area for about nine years total in my life.  I’ve eaten at both these restaurants countless times.  In my experience before the Chipotle issues last year, I never saw the Illegal Pete’s that much busier than the Chipotle.  As I said before this isn’t a scientific study of guest counts or sales, this is just my experience.

I love Chipotle; they are a Colorado restaurant company success story, so is Illegal Pete’s.  I want Chipotle to get better and get back to where they were.  I would be surprised if their sales have gone up all that much since last quarter.  I like the rest of the industry are curious how long it will take them to get back to where they were.

If you are interested in running better restaurant operations and driving sales.  I invite you to check out our restaurant checklist, inspection, and reporting app; the OpsAnalitica Inspector.  Click here to watch a short two-minute overview video.

3 Benefits of Labor Management & a Scheduling Strategy

photo-my ameego blog

Please enjoy this blog from our great friends at Ameego, the restaurant scheduling and labor management platform.

Aside from temperature compliance and food comps, what are some of the biggest ongoing challenges for restaurant managers? If your mind envisioned next month’s blank schedule calendar, the binder of handwritten time-off requests or the stack of month-end reports that show you’re spending too much on staff, you’re not alone. Scheduling and labor management tend to fall near the bottom of managers’ favorite tasks, somewhere in line with changing kegs during Friday night happy hour.

What if instead of dreading making the schedule, you looked forward to it because you had tools, data and insight to build a schedule that would keep customers, staff and your bank account happy?

Focusing on labor management and creating a scheduling strategy can have enormous benefits for productivity, and your team and guests.

3 Benefits of Labor Management & a Scheduling Strategy

1. Reduce labor costs

Mention the phrase ‘minimum wage’ to a restaurant operator these days, and watch his face wince.

Across North America, restaurants are facing increases in minimum wage. Even the smallest increases spread out over years will be painful because that money can only come from one place: the bottom line. At the same time, in many places, food costs are on the rise. And yet, with the influence and sharability of reviews, it’s more important than ever to dish up amazing food and service.

How can you possibly meet all those expectations and turn a profit? Schedule smarter. Scheduling software aligns clocked hours with daily sales so you can staff the floor according to sales, to the hour. It’s true. What time does that June Friday night happy hour rush ebb so you can send home your split-shifters? Could they start later or be cut earlier? Now you know. That’s the instant value of a scheduling strategy.

2. Increase staff happiness

When you find that star bartender or the server who can take 10 tables with her eyes closed, wouldn’t it be great to keep them around for a long, long time?

We all know what’s it like to go a few weeks understaffed. Servers are stressed and overworked. Morale goes down. And it’s not much better when you’re overstaffed, sending people home early time and again, or keeping them with not enough to do and not enough tips to make.

Now that you have insights about what triggers the need for fewer or more bodies, and to ensure you have stars on the floor when you need them most, you can create a schedule that will keep your team happy.

According to this University of Warwick study about the link between employee satisfaction and productivity, “…happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”

And, when restaurant staff are happy, so is someone else….

3. Deliver a Better Guest Experience

What difference does it make if table five gets their drinks in two minutes or 12? What’s really at stake when a table doesn’t see their server for half an hour? Two words: complaints and comps. Neither of them do your restaurant any favors.

In 2014, Consumer Reports conducted a survey about Americans’ most common restaurant complaints. ‘Slow service’ was a complaint for 51 per cent of respondents. Other all-too-familiar service and timing follies ranked high:

• Impolite or condescending servers, 72 per cent
• Tables not ready more than 15 minutes past reservation time, 50 per cent
• Feeling rushed to leave by the server, 61 per cent

With data-driven labor forecasting and scheduling, however, you know you have just the right number of staff on the floor to maintain the kind of elevated guest experience that generates rave reviews and return visits. When staff can not just stop by their tables but also truly listen to diner feedback, they’ll be able to build the kind of loyalty that makes a big impact on profits.

Scheduling mindfully creates this cycle where staff want to do their best and guests get the best. Both lead to a better culture that leads to more of the same: smiling faces and nice profits.

With the ability to access valuable information and plan effectively—not just for next week but next year—focused labor management and a scheduling strategy is kind of like your expediter for growth and success.

By Ameego
Ameego online restaurant scheduling software helps managers create the perfect schedule in minutes and increase restaurant profits. As a mobile-friendly online scheduling program with tools such as labor forecasting, POS integration, time tracking and team communication, Ameego truly is your restaurant’s best friend.

National Restaurant Show 2016

This was my second year attending the national restaurant show, and as show attendee veteran.  Here were my thoughts in no particular order.

  • Holy hell is it a big show.  I walked over 10 miles trying to cover the entire show. That was going up and down rows.
  • The technology is getting more advanced.  Last year we posted this video of the fry flipping robot. This year’s version was half the size, and it looked as if it could do more activities.
  • Broasted chicken is so delicious.
  • The Vienna Beef guys gave at over 16,000 full hot dogs at their booth last year.
  • 3D printed edible sugar sculptures; they were beautiful.
    • NRA Sugar Sculpture 2 NRA Sugar Sculpture
  • Start-up Alley was cool as there were a lot of great young companies with cool stuff.
    • Including an automated salad machine that you can just put a bowl in and 20 seconds later a custom salad has been made and is ready to serve.

I’ve enjoyed attending both of these years, and if you are in this industry, I recommend that you try to get there one time to see how big our industry is and how much cool stuff there is for operators.  Wear comfortable shoes!

5 Tips to Writing Better Restaurant Line Checks

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Every restaurant should be doing some form of line check for each meal period.  The reason you do line checks is to ensure that your food is safe and ready to serve to your guests.  Line checks allow you to catch your mistakes before your guests do, which reduces food comps.  They also allow you to check for line readiness:  FIFO is being observed and your not selling newer food and wasting older food, proper portion controls are in place, back-ups are thawed and that the line is stocked and ready for the rush, which improves execution and sales.

We have one client who saved 1.2% in food cost when they were doing line checks on the OpsAnalitica Platform vs. when they weren’t.  That equated to a $2,200 per month savings from just better food management.

The hard part about writing good line checks is that you have competing priorities to deal with.  You have safety and quality vs. time.  If your priority is time, then you can sacrifice safety and quality to speed up your line check.  If your priority is brand protection (safety & quality), then you can have an incredibly thorough line check, but it could take longer to complete.

Like all things in this world, compromise is going to be the key to writing an effective line check.  You want to check everything but do deeper checks on high-risk items. Below is a photo of one of our client’s line check kits, it includes tasting spoons and a dirty spoon container, gloves, test strips, alcohol wipes, and thermometers.

Line Check Kit

  • Line check question Attributes:  the perfect line check question should include the following parts.
    • Item Name:  Alfredo Sauce
    • Pan Size:  1/4, 1/2 pan
    • Safety Control:  temp range or time
    • Portion Control:  weight or portion size
    • Par: how much you have to have on hand to make it through the shift
    • Every Item Checks:
      • You should make sure that each item is properly labeled with the make and expiration dates because that is what the health inspector is going to do.
        • Note in the comments if item wasn’t properly labeled.
      • Taste every prepared item: dressings, sauces, sides; that is safe to sample for taste and quality.
        • You can make notes in comments if items taste bad.
        • The key here is to fix bad tasting items so your guests don’t have to taste them.
    • This is where the competing priorities come into play as you could temp each item, confirm the above attributes and taste the item and describe it’s quality but to do all of that becomes three questions that need to be answered. That line check could become very long very fast.
    • Staying with the example of Alfredo sauce I would write the question like this:  Ex:  Alfredo Sauce – 1/4 pan – 145 to 160 – 3oz ladle – 1 up 1 warmer.
      • SPEED TIP:  Don’t have the people conducting your line checks make comments on things that are good only have them comment on exceptions.
    • I would also have them record the temp of this item because it has a proper holding temperature range.  Not all items do, but when there is a top range that could affect quality, then it is a good practice to get those temperatures because it would give you data to analyze if food costs are high.
  • Temperatures Questions:
    • Temp everything but you don’t need to record every temp.
      • In my opinion, it is ok to temp items on the line, verify they are safe and note that you checked the item without writing down every temperature.
      • This practice will ensure safety and speed up your total line check.
    • Always record temps for:
      • High danger items: chicken, shellfish, pork, sauces like hollandaise, etc..
      • Delicate items where a too high or too low temperature could drastically affect quality.
      • High food cost items where you could take a big comp hit if this item goes bad before you have a chance to sell it.
    • Think like a health inspector.
  • Time as a control:
    • It is perfectly valid to use time as a control on items that need to be stored at room temperature.
    • The key to this kind of question is recording the time that the item went out on the line so you can prove that you are timing it and making sure you are discarding the items after 4 hours.
    • It is also good to have some kitchen timers or something that you can set to show that you are paying attention.
  • Critical Item Questions:  These are items that a health inspector is going to check and could get you a Critical item violation.
    • Make sure you have all the critical items covered every shift on your line checks:
      • Food being stored properly in walk-in
        • Cross contamination, labels, covering, soups and sauces being cooled correctly.
      • Sanitizer Buckets with test strips
        • You may even want to record the ppm on your line check.
      • Hand sink is clean, stocked with soap and paper towels, and that the water is hot.
      • Nothing on the floor
      • Chemicals stored in the correct place away from food.
  • Shorter is better than Longer:
    • You don’t get any awards for writing longer line checks.  It comes down to balance between brand protection and speed to complete.
    • Focus on the most critical items for your restaurant and leave out any fluff.
    • I see too many super long line checks that take 50 to 90 minutes to complete.
    • When you complete your line check go and test it in the real world for a couple of shifts and see how long it takes to complete and try to pair it down if it is too long.
    • Make sure that every question can be answered by every location or give the option for N/A.

Writing line checks is not sexy work, but a good line check is a foundation for running better operations and growing sales and profits.  Once you write your line check the only way to ensure that it is getting done correctly is to Inspect what you Expect and to follow-up with your managers when you see inconsistencies.  Without follow-up, your line check could be pencil whipped, and your investment in it will not show any returns.

If you would like to learn more about how OpsAnalitica can help you hold your managers accountable and effortlessly follow-up, click here to learn more.

87% of Restaurants Surveyed Plan to Invest in Restaurant Tech to Improve Operations

Great blog post from eMarketer, to see the complete article click on the title – Restaurants Invest in Technology to Improve Overall Efficiency.   “Most US restaurant IT decision-makers plan to invest in technology to improve operational efficiency.”  87% said that Operational Efficiency was important compared to 55% they were going to make investments in guest engagement/loyalty.  

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Other Interesting facts from the article:

  • 37% of restaurant IT decision-makers said they’re investing in technology to increase employee productivity.
  • 7% of respondents said they’re investing in the technology because they want to keep up with their competitors.
  • 5% are doing so to keep up with franchisee expectations.

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One of the best ways to improve efficiency and run better operations is to start managing by checklist with follow up.  If you would like to learn more about how to get your checklists into the cloud, check out our demo video.

 

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