Tag : Food Safety

HomePosts Tagged "Food Safety" (Page 4)

New FDA Rules mean more Manufacturer Self-Inspections


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

How do you use your operations data?

So you are collecting operations data every day, probably every shift, but what are you doing with it? 
If you are like most operators you are filing it in a drawer in the GM’s office never to be seen again. But what a waste of time and data. Why go through the exercise if nobody ever looks at the data again? I can tell you that’s how your managers feel. 
Just take a step back and look at the data you are collecting in your line checks and pre-shift inspections. Close your eyes and think about it for a minute.
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What could you do with that data? How do you think it could affect business decisions is you were able to view this data in usable format over time? 
  • Could you potentially discover an optimal walk-in temperature to reduce spoilage?
  • Could you spot a common trend in your bottom 20% performing locations, or the top 20% for that matter?
  • Could you determine that a hung over Saturday lunch staff is affecting sales tremendously?

There’s power in data, just ask Google and Facebook. If you are making decisions while ignoring important data that is available to you, you’re basically guessing. Sure experience and intuitiveness play a role, but data tells the real story. 

Check out our free ebook, click here to have it delivered to your inbox

“Moneyball approach ” to managing multi-location restaurants

The question is: Which data? What things should our “Moneyball scouts ” be looking at?

That’s where SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocols come into play.

With the SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol, you can leverage your workforce to collect data, which will let you draw correlations between operations, sales, and costs. That will help you determine your shortest path to optimized profits.

Old Pilots Don’t Crash. Old Restaurants Managers Do. Ever see an old pilot skip a pre-flight checklist? Nope. That ’s why so few planes crash. Ever see an old restaurant manager (over confident that he knows it all) crash a restaurant? Yup. Happens all the time. That’s why we have to bring the rigor of the pre-flight inspection to the management of restaurants.

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SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol™ is a checklist system, not unlike the pre-flight checklists that pilots run through to ensure safe operations. Except that the restaurant data that’s captured is not viewed in isolation, nor just logged and stored and never looked at again. 

The SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol is performed by your workers at any skill level, using a tablet or iPad to log in the restaurateur’s most valuable assets: “in-game data.” 

Since this approach is a protocol (a programmatic workflow, based on a pre-established critical path), the SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol is not dependent on the skill levels of your workers. The intelligence is embedded in the protocol itself. Literally anyone can run the protocol. 

Learn how to write your own SMART Pre-Shift Inspections at our FREE Webinar on July 14th @ 3 PM CST. Click here to register today!

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What are SMART Pre-shift Inspections?


At OpsAnalitica, we are big believers that conducting consistent daily inspections drives better operations, safer restaurants, and increases profitability.  We are such big believers we have developed our pre-shift inspection methodology, the SMART Pre-Shift Inspection.  We will be hosting a 30-minute webinar on SMART Pre-shift inspections on Tuesday July 14th at 3:00 pm central time.

Click here to register for this FREE webinar

Here is an excerpt from our SMART Pre-Shift Training manual.

SMART is an acronym for the different categories that you should be focusing on in your pre-shift inspections.

  • S = Sanitation
  • M = Management Responsibilities
  • A = Accountability
  • R = Readiness for Guests
  • T = Temperatures

A SMART Pre-shift inspection will contain questions that take managers on a tour of their location and have

them focus on safety and readiness to serve guests. It should contain both FOH and BOH items, as well as,

items that you know are unique to the success of your operations.

The goal of conducting a SMART Pre-shift Inspection is to focus your managers on the critical success factors

of your business. To know that your operations are safe and ready to serve guests for that service period. The

act of walking around your location with a critical eye and focusing on the most important parts of your

business focus your manager’s on what is required to be successful, this is especially important for hospitality

manager’s because we are always on and almost always in front of customers.


All OpsAnalitica Clients get a copy of our SMART Pre-shift Inspection pre-loaded into their portal and our training manual when they sign-up for our service.  We also offer consulting services around helping you write your own SMART Pre-shift that is custom tailored to your unique operations.




Yelp Wrap-up



On May 7th, we posted a blog What’s the deal with Yelp, the purpose of the blog was to get feedback from the restaurant community on some of the rumors we had heard about Yelp.

We post our blogs through multiple social media outlets, and a lot of them allow comments on the post. Today’s blog post is a wrap-up of the commenter’s sentiments about Yelp. You are welcome to look at the actual blog comments here.

Restauranteur’s Opinions on Yelp:

  • Overly aggressive sales team
  • The perception that Yelp can make your bad reviews filter toward the bottom of review feed if you advertise.
  • The perception that good, 5 Star reviews, often disappear because Yelp’s algorithm’s thinks they are fake.
  • Major distrust of Yelp
  • Only hear from Yelp when they get bad reviews.
  • Drives traffic and customers to restaurant

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We had several Yelp user’s comment as well, and their basic feedback was that they liked the service. One commenter stated that they used Yelp when they traveled & it had never steered them wrong. That has also been my personal experience with the site.

What we would like to see Yelp do:

  1. Consider requiring or giving additional weight to reviews where the user posts a photo of their check. This photo would provide proof that a customer ate at the restaurant.
  2. Additional proof could also be accomplished by using a 3-D barcode to launch a verified review.
  3. Use the available review metadata that you collect to identify false reviewers and ban them from your site.

Yelp suffers from a perceived impropriety issue. If Yelp doesn’t filter bad reviews to the bottom when people advertise there is a perception that they do. Yelp should address these rumors and provide some transparency on how they filter and their ability to affect the placement of reviews in a restaurant’s review feed.

As a Yelp user I don’t want them to filter any reviews, the value of Yelp to me is that I get an honest picture of what people are saying about a restaurant.  If Yelp is filtering advertiser’s bad reviews to the bottom of their feed, then I might make a bad decision.

Thanks to all of you that voiced your opinions on this blog.



Making the Most of Your 30-Day Free Trial – Part 1

As more and more cloud apps are being designed for business consumers, the 30-Day Free Trial is becoming more and more common in the corporate setting. OpsAnalitica, my company, offers a 30-Day Free Trial for our Inspector App.

The Free Trial is not a new concept; it is one of the best sales models for the manufacturer and the customer. The Free Trial thrives in the app economy because there are minimal costs to the app maker for adding one additional customer to their app for 30-days.

The benefit to the customer is you can cut through the marketing hype and use the tool in the real world. It is one thing to see a demo video and in our case it is another to walk around your restaurant with our app on your tablet inspecting your restaurant and recording temperatures.

Quick Tip: Demo Videos, most app companies have a demo video of their software on their site. When watching a demo video be leery of highly produced videos with lots of editing and cuts. A great screen capture video that shows the app working in the real world is better because you see the real user experience.

The first concept I want to cover in Free Trials is: Nothing is ever Free. A 30-Day Free trial isn’t free because your time and attention cost money. When you commit to doing a trial and you put your credit card down the clock is ticking. So you should go in with a plan and an idea of how you would use this tool in your world.

Quick Tip: Set a calendar reminder for 28 days on the day you purchase the free trial. At OpsAnalitica, we email you twice in the week when your card is going to be charged for the first time to alert you to the upcoming charge. Notifying the customer about an impending charge isn’t a law or requirement. Just remember 30 days at work goes by so fast, and we see a ton of our free trials wait until the reminder emails before they even start using the tool.

Quick Tip: Don’t sign-up for more licenses than you need to conduct your free trial. We have people sign-up for ten licenses and then on Day 30 they get billed for ten licenses when they only needed one.

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Free Trial Phases:
You should break your free trial into two phases. Initial Evaluation and Real World Test(RWT). You don’t move into the RWT if the platform doesn’t pass your Initial Evaluation.

Initial Evaluation:

  • The goal is to use all of the functionality of the app with the minimal time investment
  • Don’t be concerned with data quality, look and feel, in this phase.
  • You should try to get through your Initial Evaluation in two to four hours if possible.

I see people making a huge mistake all the time, which is they won’t start testing an app unless they have it configured perfectly with real world data. Configuring takes time.

What I’m saying here is against my self-interest as an app maker. The more time a customer invests in the tool during a free trial correlates to their purchase behavior. A customer puts a psychological value on their time and is less likely to cancel the trial, even if they aren’t happy with the tool because it will look and feel like they made a mistake.

So much of selling is playing on the pride and laziness of the customer.  That is why they will let you mail back the Bowflex for a refund because they know no one is going to pack that bitch back up, and it get it shipped. So as soon as you unpack the Bowflex, it is never going back. The only way you are getting it out of your house is when you sell it for 1/3rd of what you paid for it on Craigslist.

Investing too much time configuring in the Initial Evaluation, is unpacking the Bowflex, and it plays into the hands of the seller.

Using our app as an example, I have test inspections I can load into the Inspector for you. They are full of questions that may apply to your business but more than likely they won’t cover everything you might want to inspect. That is OK. You need to use your imagination, use my preloaded test questions, walk around your restaurant inspecting it and determine if the app and reports could work for you.  There will be plenty of time to conduct real world tests with real data if you proceed to RWT.

The same is true for any other app you are testing, ask the company if they have preloaded data for you to use. Your time is money so don’t waste it data entering when you aren’t sure that you are going to be using this thing tomorrow.

Other Apps:

  • Task Management apps – add two fake tasks to the app and work them to completion before you invest 5 hours moving every task from your current app into that platform.
  • CRM App – Put in your personal contact info and then work yourself through the system on a fake deal before you invest the time to move your entire contact list into the tool.
  • Restaurant Scheduling – Make a fake schedule with a couple of employees and see how it works.

As you are testing make a bullet point list of questions and concerns. If you like the App, then you can contact your sales rep or support and get the questions answered before moving to RWT.

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Quick Tip: In programming going from one to two is harder than two to 1,000. What that means is, if you are testing something always use at least two items in your test. If it works for two test items than it should work similarly for 100 items.

Quick Tip: There is no app that is going to 100% conform to how you do stuff today. The point of bringing in apps is to speed things up and make data more available. Just know that you are going to have to change how you do things a little to work with an app.

When you have gone as far as you can or need to go in your Initial Evaluation, look at the list of questions you have generated and categorize them as Must-haves and Nice-to-Haves. Must-have’s are deal breakers, Nice-to-have’s are “it would be cool if your app did it like this.”

Let’s break the Must-haves concept down a little bit more, because this is probably the biggest barrier I see companies stumbling over. When evaluating functionality you have to clear your mind and focus on the end goal.

As an example: The business requirement is that a customer gets a notification email when a certain action is taken, if there is no way to make that happen within the app. That is a Must-have that is not being met.

If the email notification is sent, but not the way you would ideally like it to happen. For instance: you have to click a button, or it doesn’t go out immediately; then that is a Nice-to-have issue. The business requirement is met just not the way you would have preferred it.

Initial Evaluation Decision Time: You have your list of questions and concerns; you have rated it by Must-haves and Nice-to-haves. You have gotten clarification from the app maker that your list is accurate. Now you have to decide if it’s worth investing more time into testing or should you look for another solution.

There is no formula for the percentage of Must-haves to Nice-to-haves when deciding. It comes down to how many Must-haves are on your list and is the pain of your current system enough that you can live without that functionality.

Quick Tip: Don’t get caught up in the personalities of your company and what you think people will do or won’t do. If there is a strong business case around implementing technology and you can prove ROI, people will adapt.

Over the years, I’ve see so many people not move forward with an app that has proven positive ROI because some guy on their team, Doug, is never going to do that. Just because Doug is an ass head and has managed to stop all progress at the company because he is afraid of technology, the rest of the company shouldn’t have to suffer.

Quick Tip: If you aren’t going to move forward, you should cancel the app immediately before you forget. I cannot stress this enough, make your decision and move on.

I had an employee once that did a 30-day free trial, didn’t like the app, told us all in a meeting that we weren’t going to use it. Then forgot to cancel, didn’t realize that he had forgotten, and we were billed for a month. He had to put that on his expense report to me and tell me how he had made a mistake, and then accounting wanted to know what the charge was for and ultimately we all looked dumb.  Cancel when you decide.

In part two of this blog, we will pick-up on Real World Testing(RWT).  Click here to go to Part II.

Also, in Part II we will have a printable 1 page pdf of best practices.

Click here to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss our upcoming posts on Piloting your new App and Questions to ask your Cloud App Provider.




Bad Manager vs. Good Manager Part II

Restaurant Managers Without Line Check Technology Are Just Putting Out Fires With Gasoline!

Lexi Without A Line-Check App vs. Lexi With a Line Check App, With OpsAnalitica to the Rescue.

Don’t be embarrassed if the person we describe sounds exactly like you.  Actually, it may be you, but not for long.  You won’t have to read far to see how transformative technology can be to your workday…and your career.

Here’s part two of the Bad Manager vs. Good Manager blog. Part one was posted yesterday, click here to read part one.

The Good Manager

8:03 AM: Lexi the restaurant manager shows up to get ready for putting out 125 meals, the lunch rush just four hours away. She’d already checked in from home with the OpsAnalitica app suite on her iPad to see 100% compliance with the line checks from last night and this morning. All temps checked out. She noticed on last night’s closing walk-through that they were low on Guac.  She sent a digital purchase order to Sysco, and the dispatcher says delivery will be there in 25 minutes.

Lexi is so glad that she didn’t become a nun, as her mom had asked. Shes running the top restaurant in town and had 17 right-swipes since 5pm yesterday.

8:17 AM: Lexi arrives at the location to check the kitchen.  The line cook pours her a fresh latte’. “That’s my thanks for the sharp knives” he says with a wink and a smile.  The previous evening, Lexi had read a comment on her OpsAnalitica line check app that it was time to sharpen the knives.  She’d assigned it to the owner’s nephew Randy, who she just hired. He’s a cute kid with a lot of promise, and always eager to learn a new skill.

Lexi catches a scene from Court TV on the screen above the bar, and she wonders how these criminals get into such trouble, when life is so carefree and fun.

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8:22 AM: Lexi checks her OpsAnalitica app suite on her iPad over a second delicious latte (this one from the wait staff, who didn’t have to fill any of the smalls). OpsAnalitica app suite tells her that all her requests from the previous night had been fulfilled. She hasn’t had any problems with the breakers after the alarm was set, since adding that question to the closing checklist. There was, however, one non-compliant worker, and she texted and email him a message that they needed to talk when he had time.

Lexi simply cant believe how great that latte isthe temp just right. Astounding.

8:44 AM: Lexi gets a text. It’s the board of health and they are pulling a surprise inspection. Inspector wants to meet her in the lobby.  To prepare, Lexi grabs her tablet and pulls her line check report for the past two months.  They show compliance with all health standards.  She even prints out a few Yelp and Tripadvisor comments to show the inspector what customers think of the food.

Lexi had scored 2300 on her SATs and she’d been recruited by Duke and Stanford to study with a leading hedge fund, but shes glad she went into restaurant management. Unfathomable wealth is nothing compared to being in complete control of a top restaurant location.

10:00 AM: Board of health inspector gives her location an A+. He even tells her what a great job her team is doing.

Lexis iPad gets an alert, and she wonders what could be going wrong.  Did OpsAnalitica app suite let her down?  But its yet another compliance report email. Mid-day line checks have been properly performed again. Bathroom inspection reports back spotless, and the server stations are stocked and ready for the rush for 63rd day in a row.

11:00 AM: That cute Sysco truck driver texts to thank Lexi for the Google traffic alert, which she’d sent last night. He’ll be early today.

11:15 AM: First customers arrive.  Location doesn’t open for 15 more minutes, but Lexi and he crew have already done pre-shifts, and everyone is running ahead of schedule. She welcomes the guests.  Turns out they are scouting for a wedding reception, and they love how they are treated special.

12:00 AM: Regional manager calls Lexi all excited, says he’s bringing the chain owner over for lunch. He asks how lunch is going. Lexi says, “Can’t wait. But we are full! Do you mind eating at the bar?”

Lexi leaves a sticky note on the walk-in door: Silk on silk: Thats how smooth this place runs! Thanks everyone! Thanks OpsAnalitica app suite!

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Bad Manager vs Good Manager Part I

Restaurant Managers Without Line Check Technology Are Just Putting Out Fires With Gasoline!

Lexi Without A Line-Check App vs. Lexi With a Line Check App, With OpsAnalitica to the Rescue.

Don’t be embarrassed if the person we describe sounds exactly like you.  Actually, it may be you, but not for long.  You won’t have to read far to see how transformative technology can be to your workday…and your career.

The Bad Manager

8:03 AM: Lexi the restaurant manager shows up to get ready for putting out 125 meals, the lunch rush just four hours away. But as she walked through the door, she thought she’d walked into a frog dissection class at the high school.  She was met with a putrid smell at the door of the walk-in.

Rotten food.

No temp check was run at closing last night, and the breaker on the walk-in had tripped when the closer had set the burglar alarm. All the food has spoiled. Even the hard boiled eggs.

Eyeing the staffing chart from last night, Lexi tries to recall the distinction between murder and manslaughter and which brings a shorter prison sentence.

8:17 AM: “I’m being poisoned!” is all that Lexi can hear the line cook repeatedly screaming. She dashes back to see him rinsing out his mouth. Someone had mistaken his water bottle for the bottle that holds the sanitary solution and filled it up to the brim with fresh bleach. The line cook is staring at the owner’s smarmy nephew, Randy, who no one wanted to hire anyway. The cook eyes the knives but realizes they are too dull to hurt anyone.

Not for the first time, Lexi wonders why she didn’t become a nun, like her mom wanted.

8:22 AM: On the phone to Sysco for an expedited delivery of food for lunch, Lexi has to separate two waitresses who are arguing over who will fill the salt and catsups.  Every single table needs complete restocking. No one ran post-dinner side-work check last night to make sure all the smalls were topped off.

Lexi almost hangs up with Sysco to call the Army recruiter, hoping for a lower stress position in Afghanistan. In active combat.

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8:44 AM: Lexi gets a text from the hostess. It’s the board of health and they are pulling a surprise inspection.  Inspector wants to meet her in the lobby. Now. She sees him holding his nose and writing something on his clipboard.

Lexi thinks back to when her parents urged her to take the SATs seriously in high school. Shed be a wealthy lawyer now in Cabo had she only listened.

10:00 AM: Board of health inspector asks for extra paper for his writeup.  Lexi is frantically signaling behind the inspector’s back for the wait staff to crank down the temps on the salad bar. The wait staff signals back, but they need just one finger to convey their true feelings.  Board of health inspector finds the guac tray on the salad bar is at 71 degrees. Should be 37 degree.

Lexi wonders how far one must fall to actually die when jumping off a building.  All nearby buildings are just two-story.  She wishes she’d taken a job in city center. 

11:00 AM: Sysco truck driver calls, furious because no one warned him that road construction would force him down an unfamiliar road. They are letting air out of his tires so he can fit under a low bridge. The refrigerator unit was smashed.  “Do you know someone with a pickup truck who can pick up all this fish before it rots?”

Lexi looks longingly at the line cooks water bottle. She wonders how much grenadine will knock back the taste of bleach long enough to get a few mouthfuls down.

11:15 AM: Cook texts Lexi to say there is no propane.  No one checked the tanks, and the crew is dead in the water until another delivery is made.

Lexi logs into Monster.com, and searches: Anything, anywhere but here. Compensation unimportant.

12:00 PM: Regional manager calls Lexi all excited, says he’s bringing the chain owner over for lunch. He asks how lunch is going. Lexi says that things are going “really well” and that there is sushi for lunch, because the raw fish is “fresh off the truck.”

“I thought we were a Mexican restaurant,” regional manager says.  Lexi says that she’s been changing the menu every so often “to stay with today’s truck-to-table model.”  Regional manager says, “Wow, news to me, but whatever works. Be there in five.”

Lexi leaves a sticky note on the walk-in door: “I eloped with Sysco truck driver. Good luck sorting out the wreckage of this doomed madhouse. PS: Randy — good luck in prison.”

Click here to read part two, the Good Manager.



“Fair work week” efforts a problem for retail, soon a problem for restaurants

Although sales numbers appear to remain positive for the restaurant industry, other challenges continue to mount. On top of the rising minimum wage restaurants are now faced with potential scheduling regulations as well.

NRN.com contributor, Joe Kefauver, posted an article summarizing the regulations that are currently being proposed in some fashion in 10 states and quickly spreading. They seem to be targeting larger organizations, 500 or more employees in California, but it will be a state by state case. Some of the most common areas covered include:

  • Advanced scheduling notice
  • Minimum pay when “cut”
  • Elimination of “on-call” scheduling

These regulations certainly make scheduling tougher for management, but I don’t see it being avoided. It’ll be a change for the employees who enjoy the flexibility of the full service restaurant industry, trading shifts, picking up doubles etc. I see the consumers suffering the most from these regulations as most restaurants will be very conservative with their scheduling so when there’s a no call, no show there won’t be anyone available to cover the slack. As consumers this is something we’ll just have to get used to on the service front. There will be more technology and less human interaction in the future.

I have copied the full article below:

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Just last year I wrote a cautionary column about the emerging issue of sustainable scheduling in the retail sector, and warned readers of a coming wave of “fair work week” legislation and its potential spillover into the restaurant industry.

Fast forward to 2015, and it appears I might have a future in fortune telling.

Pending legislation is running the gamut from mandating the number of days or weeks in advance that schedules must be posted, to the number of hours off between shifts, and to punitive time-and-a-half mandates for transgressions. The efforts are advancing through the actions of retail-focused unions and their worker center partners. Today, up to 10 states have introduced bills surrounding scheduling of employees, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Minnesota, New York and Oregon.

The California bill, in particular, applies to food and retail employers with 500 or more employees and is designed to target the growing number of companies using “just-in-time” and “on-call” scheduling practices to minimize labor costs. It mirrors the fair scheduling bill that passed in San Francisco last year, which will take effect in July.

In addition, proponents of these bills have leveraged their connections within the attorney general community to engage and enforce “reporting-time pay” laws where they are on the books, which includes eight states and the District of Columbia. While these rules are all somewhat different, they basically require non-exempt employees to be paid a minimum amount whenever they report to work as required or requested by the employer — even if no work is performed.

Last month, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman informed 13 major retailers that they are being investigated for “questionable scheduling practices.” You can be certain that other attorney generals will follow suit. Like the legislative efforts, if anyone thinks these types of investigations will stay limited to the retail sector, then they have not been paying attention.

The Fair Work Week provisions are a particularly tough issue for the restaurant industry. For one thing, there are business owners who have some questionable business practices.

“On-call” scheduling — the practice of having employees call in prior to a shift to see if they are needed — basically freezes that employee from scheduling social or family-related activities, or even other employment opportunities. Even more, if they are not needed, they are not paid. While rampant in the department store world, we have seen it used in the restaurant industry as well. Realistically, the practice is a tough one to defend publicly.

Other instances have surfaced where owners have intentionally overscheduled staff in anticipation of no-shows. If everyone happens to show up for their shift, some employees are sent home without pay. Again, this is almost impossible to defend in the public domain.

The supporters of change to this kind of workforce management and the proponents of legislation to enforce new rules can easily identify and publicly highlight workers who have experienced overscheduling or on-call practices. And of course, the media predictably eats it up.

Perhaps the biggest challenge we face is the fact that this issue polls better for the unions than any other we are currently facing. It polls better than minimum wage, better than paid sick leave and better than wage theft.

The bottom line is that we need to be better at publicly highlighting the reasons why job flexibility is a major component of what makes restaurant jobs attractive for millions of workers. We need to do an even better job internally to make sure we are not using practices in our workplaces that make us easy targets for attack. The industry is doing a good job quickly coordinating a defense against these work week proposals, but it is a huge mountain to climb.

Candidly, we knew this was coming for a long time. We have a propensity in this industry to be somewhat myopic when it comes to how we assess potential threats. For too many years, we dismissed the assault on Walmart’s reputation, business model and the subsequent labor protests as “Walmart’s problem.” Now look where we are. When that labor effort came to our industry, we spent far too long pretending it was “McDonald’s problem.” Now look where we are. For too long, we didn’t admit that threats to the 7-Eleven franchise model were actually threats to the entire restaurant business model. Now look where we are. And for the last two years, we, for whatever reason, decided that the scheduling issue was a retail problem. So here we are.

What scheduling practices have you found most effective at your restaurant? Join the conversation in the comments below.

While we consider ourselves restaurateurs, we are actually food retailers. That means an assault on any retailer’s business model or reputation is an assault on or own. We tend to work within industries and not across industries when it comes to dealing with these threats. Interestingly, the other guys who are cleaning our clocks on this stuff look at retail and restaurants collectively, working across both industries to advance their activist agendas.

Which playbook seems to be working better?


Panera 2.0

An article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, “From iPad to plate, technology speeding up food at Bread Co.”, highlights some of the early findings of some of the technology improvements being made, known as Panera 2.0. Here in St. Louis Panera is still called St. Louis Bread Company or Bread Co for short.

They are starting with rolling out ordering kiosks where patrons can order and pay for their food without talking to an employee. They have rolled out kiosks to 123 of their 1900 locations so far. Here are some stats:

  • Panera 2.0 cafes are reporting that 20% of their retail sales are digital meaning either online or a kiosk
  • Gross retail sales have increased nearly 6% since the rollout at 2.0 cafes

They have added a new position in the kitchen to help manage all the incoming digital orders to make sure everything is process correctly. Panera is saying that they are investing in more labor than what the kiosks are currently offsetting, but I’m sure that’s temporary. Once the staff and customers are comfortable with the new process they will be shedding labor as fast as possible. That statement in the article is a PR move. You don’t invest in technology to increase costs. Sure they are also making the customer experience a better one which is important and what their customers desired, but let’s be honest there’s a huge financial upside as well down the line through automating labor intensive processes.

Another huge benefit cited in the article are the upselling opportunities through the kiosk. Kiosks don’t fear upselling. You program to do and they just do it. Whereas with employees for most it’s outside of their comfort zone to upsell. That’s just human nature. Now with the automated system every single guest that uses the system will get asked if they want to add stuff to their order. That will pay off in no time.

Early survey results show that both frequency and satisfaction have increased among customers that use the kiosk. So take that for what it’s worth.

I have copied the full article below:

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As customers entered a busy St. Louis Bread Co. in Kirkwood, some made a beeline to a row of iPads set up just inside the restaurant’s doors. The tablet computers allow them to place orders and pay, avoiding the inconvenience of waiting in line during the lunchtime rush.

Soon their orders of chicken salad sandwiches, salads and fruit smoothies were ready, all without having to speak to a restaurant employee.

The new ordering kiosks are part of the “Panera 2.0” initiative by Panera Bread Co., the Sunset Hills-based chain that operates locally as St. Louis Bread Co.

So far, 123 restaurants have added the technology, including about a half dozen in the St. Louis region, since the initiative was announced a little more than a year ago.

The chain, which has 1,901 restaurants in 45 states and Ontario, Canada, is expanding kiosks at several hundred more restaurants this year.

While boosting digital ordering through kiosks, Panera also is testing delivery, although not yet in the St. Louis area. It views the digital expansion as an important part of growing its catering and delivery business.

Blaine Hurst, Panera’s executive vice president of transformation and growth, said the chain began developing Panera 2.0 in 2010 as a way to cut friction customers encountered while waiting to place their orders.

Panera surveyed customers and found out they loved the food and environment at cafes but didn’t like what CEO Ron Shaich has called the “mosh pit” ordering process at Panera registers.

“Panera 2.0 was really born out of a pursuit of how do we make it easier for our guests to get in and out, with the accuracy they desire,” Hurst said.

Panera first tested the use of a kiosk at a restaurant near Fenway Park in Boston in 2012, and added kiosks in Charlotte, N.C., the following year. In 2012 and 2013, Panera also added online ordering and debuted a mobile app that allowed customers to place orders on their smartphones.

The kiosks build on another element of Panera 2.0’s digital effort that launched last year, Rapid Pick-Up. The service allows customers to place orders through a smartphone or iPad app and pick up the food from a marked shelf at the restaurant.

Following the introduction of Panera 2.0 last year, digital sales are accounting for more than 20 percent of retail sales at Panera 2.0 cafes.

“We have seen tremendous growth in our digital properties,” Hurst said. “We went from virtually no online transactions to nearing 9 percent of our total sales.”

When it last released a breakdown of operating metrics for the converted 2.0 restaurants, for the period that ended Dec. 31, gross retail sales at those stores increased nearly 6 percent a few quarters following the addition of the technology.

While digital sales are increasing, Panera also has invested in new production equipment and systems and added staff to handle a large number of orders coming in at once from the registers, counter registers, kiosks and online. A new position has been added in the kitchen to ensure the accuracy of each order.

“We’re taking the labor that kiosks save and putting it back into the kitchen,” Hurst said. “We are increasing labor more than the kiosk offsets.”

The kiosks can make it quicker for a customer to place an order, but many customers are spending more time ordering by customizing the kinds of cheese and condiments they want on their food.

“We see a much higher propensity to modify orders,” Hurst said.

When customers customize their orders, there’s the option to tack on items that come with added fees. When ordering an $8.59 roasted turkey and avocado BLT, for example, customers can add Gouda cheese for an additional 75 cents or Thai style peanut sauce for 50 cents.

For those who prefer to have their order taken by a person and have the option of paying with cash, there are still several cashiers staffing cash registers at Panera 2.0 cafes.

As the chain seeks to introduce the technology, employees have been designated as “kiosk ambassadors” at restaurants to greet customers as they enter, point out the kiosks and walk them through how to use them.

Laura Fuller, 58, was one of several customers during the noon hour who placed her lunch order through two of the five kiosks at Panera’s Kirkwood restaurant on Manchester Road last Friday.

“It’s much faster,” Fuller said of the kiosk, as she bypassed a line several people deep at a cash register.

Panera isn’t alone in using kiosks for ordering food. St. Louis-based Hardee’s recently added self-order kiosks as a pilot in a handful of restaurants, and McDonald’s is testing them in a some restaurants.

Investors are wary of some of the upfront costs, however. On Feb. 12, the day Panera reported its fourth-quarter earnings that showed higher costs tied to the technology, its stock dropped 10 percent to $157 a share. The stock has since rebounded, closing Thursday at $183.

In its most recent quarter, CEO Ron Shaich said in a conference call with analysts April 29 that new initiatives hurt first-quarter results, but he said the tech upgrades would improve earnings in the long term.

While the upfront costs for technology and training are significant, Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy said the investment was paying off for Panera.

“With the increase in the number of transactions they’re seeing, the costs are warranted,” Hottovy said.

Through its MyPanera loyalty program that has 19 million members — accounting for nearly half of the chain’s transaction — Panera’s surveys on the new technology have received positive feedback, Hurst said.

“We’ve found that guests who use kiosks, the frequency of their visits goes up and guest satisfaction goes up.”

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