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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

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.

OpsAnalitica is a Food Safety and Ops Management Platform

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Avoidable Food Safety Incident

Red Robin is in the news for a completely avoidable food safety situation. To date there have been 3 confirmed cases of E. Coli at one of their Colorado locations. One adult and two children have been infected. Two of the three have been hospitalized.

A link to the full NRN article is below, but here are some quick takeaways:

  • Inspectors found critical violations including improper employee handwashing, improper cleaning and sanitizing of food preparation surfaces, and cross-contamination between raw meats and other prepared foods
    • Totally avoidable by Implementing a Food Safety Management System (FSMS) with daily Active Managerial Control (AMC)
  • Red Robin closed the restaurant voluntarily the next day conduct a thorough cleaning and provide food safety training for the employees
    • The problem here is that half the people they trained were gone the next week. Training adds absolutely zero value without processes and job aides in place to enforce behavior change ongoing.
  • Red Robin stated ” We maintain rigorous food safety standards and procedures nationwide, which comply with the most recent FDA Food Code.”
    • This tells us one of two things: Either the Food Code is a joke or, the more likely scenario, Red Robin has procedures in place, but there’s no accountability system in place to ensure the procedures are being followed every shift, every day at every location.

This is a dangerous situation for Red Robin. With the way bad news travels these days this won’t only affect this one Colorado location. This will affect performance at every location. Not sure that Red Robin has the brand power to withstand these types issues. They’re a Colorado company, but they’re not Chipotle (I do realize they aren’t Colorado any more).

This incident is just another reason why digital food safety records need to be mandated. It’s too easy to fake your way through the procedures when it’s filled out on paper.

As promised click here to read the full NRN article.

Top 10 Food Service Management Solution Provider

We are extremely honored to be recognized by Food & Beverage Technology Review as a Top 10 Food Service Management Solution Provider of 2019.

The team at OpsAnalitica works tirelessly day in and day out to develop a best in class solution that is easy to use, packed with value, for a price that is much lower than the competition. We believe that technology should, first and foremost, provide efficiencies in the business, but also be less expensive than traditional paper processes.

We continue to pump out intuitive features that help our clients reduce risk around food safety and deliver consistent guest experiences at all their locations, every shift.

Kudos to the whole OpsAnalitica team for providing a solution and customer experience worthy of this recognition.

Thanks to our loyal customers for their trust in our platform and their valuable feedback which 100% drives our development efforts. We wouldn’t be here without their support.

Here’s to more exciting things to come out of OpsAnalitica in 2019!

You can read the Food & Beverage Technology Review article and interview with our very own Tommy Yionoulis here.

You can access the May issue of Food & Beverage Technology Review in digital format here.

If you are interested in learning more about how OpsAnalitica may be able to help you reduce food safety risk and drive consistency in your operations click here to request more information and schedule a demo.

Chipotle Still Doesn’t Have a Food Safety Culture

There were two interesting articles about Chipotle last week:

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

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

A quick history of our interactions with Chipotle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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