Operations data are the data points that are generated every meal period in a restaurant that directly affect sales and profitability. Let’s break it down:
- Marketing activities remind your customers that you still exist.
- People come in to eat at your restaurant.
- You serve them food (operations)
- They pay and leave either happy or sad, eager to share their experience with their friends or trash you on Yelp.
Remember we are restaurant operators and operations are our business. Operations data points are the measurement of our operations. Until this time in the restaurant industry it has been next to impossible to capture, organize, and analyze operations data for even a single restaurant location never mind a national chain.
There are two main reasons for this, the first is that we aren’t a completely automated business. We are predominantly a human business where people, not automated machines are the means of production. Number two the technology didn’t exist or it was too expensive to capture the data.
With the invention of tablets and smart phones we now have powerful handheld devices that can be used to capture operations data. A smartphone used every day to consistently capture operations data can feed a data analysis initiative that can drive down waste and increase profitability.
In the spirit of ops data and running better operations we are giving away our ebook, SMART Inspections, Drive Big Data. Click here to get it delivered to your inbox.
I will leave you with this thought. As technology becomes more prevalent in the industry, the companies that can identify, test, and implement new solutions more quickly will have a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.
I’m sure you have experienced this a million times….
I’m going to share a story from my days at bartending in a very busy mountain town.
Spring break was one of the busiest times of the year. Two-hour waits for dinner and up to an hour wait for lunch. No real break between the shifts because we got the apres ski crowd after a busy day on the mountain.
During March, there would be a lot of cash just burning a hole in our pockets, like most ski town residents we would need to unwind at the end of the night. It could sometimes turn into a 4 or 5-hour process and would inevitably make the next lunch shift pretty rough.
It was always a bad idea when all of us would go out together because now instead of 1 or 2 of the staff operating at 75%, we would have 90% of the staff operating at 50%.
Never failed, every time that happened we’d get an early lunch rush. Side work was half-assed, tables weren’t set, outside heaters weren’t on, umbrellas were down, snow on the front patio. You get the picture.
We’d ingest as much coffee as we could stand and GO TO WAR!
The service was horrible because you are trying to complete side work while serving guests. Drinks took forever because there weren’t enough glasses at the soft drink stations, not enough lemons cut, it was a disaster. It hurt our tips and certainly hurt lunch sales.
Anyone who has ever managed a restaurant has worked a shift like this. You walk in the door and your staff looks like the slept in their uniforms and don’t get me started about the smell, like a damp cellar.
Instead of proactively managing your shift, you start your day putting out FIRES.
Instead of walking your dining room and checking it for readiness you are herding CATS.
In the spirit of this story, we’d like to share our FOH Readiness Checklist. Click here to download it for free!
Even if you have a FOH Checklist, you should take a minute and check out ours.
We hope you find it helpful.
If you are interested in learning more about how OpsAnalitica is helping restaurant operators run safer, more profitable restaurants, click here, to watch a quick 14 minute demo video.
The Denver-based chain was served with another subpoena on Jan. 28 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California requiring Chipotle to produce documents and information about the company’s practices at all restaurants system wide. click here to read full article
I don’t think you have to be a legal genius to see what the government is trying to do here. My guess is that they are going to try and show that Chipotle wasn’t operating safely and that it was a system wide problem.
By subpoenaing documentation across all restaurants it is pretty easy to build a case where the numbers look bigger than the percentage. When you have 1,755 restaurants, NRN Top 100 Unit Count June 2015. If each of those locations missed 1 temp log a week that is 91,260 missed temp logs in a year.
Do you even know if your restaurants are doing their daily checklists? If you don’t have an automated system how could you?
How many temp logs does your chain miss in a week? Even if you did them all you are bound to have lost a few from soda spills and misfiling.
What is even worse is if you get a bunch of those documents back from the restaurants and they are incomplete, or appear to be pencil whipped. That would be direct proof that you aren’t doing your due diligence as a company. If the government can prove that management knew that the restaurants weren’t all operating safely and wasn’t doing anything about it, there is your Ford Pinto case.
Anyone that follows OpsAnalitica knows that we have been harping on this stuff forever and a day because it matters.
Here is the crazy thing, if Chipotle was an OpsAnalitica client and they conducted all of their checklists and inspections on our platform, they could pull a report and send it off.
Restaurant safety goes beyond training, culture, daily checklists. A large part of it is documentation and record keeping. You can say you are safe all day long but can you prove it.
There is a reason that one of the 7 HACCP principles is record keeping and documentation.
We are committed to helping you run safer restaurants. From our white papers, to our platform, to our new managed service license. We will help you run the safest restaurants you can and do it in the most efficient way possible.
Click here to download our free guide, 7 Tips to Faster Better Line Checks.
There are two things that I know to be absolutely true:
- If you use the OpsAnalitica Inspector to automate your checklists – YOUR RESTAURANTS WILL BE SAFER!
- Restaurant managers don’t have time to take on additional projects no matter how important they are.
That is why we have created our Managed Service License, the first in the industry.
When the restaurant tech industry is going in the direction of do-it-yourself – we are going in the direction of restaurants by providing you with more personal service.
With a Managed Service License, we’ll take care of everything related to the set-up, daily administration, and report building for your organization.
The only technical thing you will need to know how to do is tell us what you want. It is that simple.
You and your organization will be able to focus on conducting inspections, checklists and reviewing reports.
There is no other easier way to run safer restaurants and get better visibility into daily operations than the OpsAnalitica Inspector Managed Service.
The craziest thing is that our managed service license is only $10 a month more than our Inspector + license. That is nothing. We are going to be the cheapest employee you have that doesn’t go on vacation or require any benefits.
Click here to watch a video message from Tommy Yionoulis, one of the founders of OpsAnalitica, to learn about our new managed service offering.
NO MORE EXCUSES, YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO WAIT ANOTHER DAY WHEN IT COMES TO ENSURING RESTAURANT SAFETY.
If you have any questions give me a call or send me an email any time. Or if you are interested in seeing an OpsAnalitica demo, click here to schedule.
Part of our responsibility is to provide you with content and tools to help you run your business. This blog post will contain links to other resources that we have found on E-coli, Norovirus, and General Food Safety issues. If you know of some other great tools, please add them in the comments and we’ll update our list.
As you look at these different resources you might be asking yourself how can checklists and checklist platforms like OpsAnalitica help me run safer restaurants?
Operations checklists play a huge part in running safer restaurants because they focus managers on what is important on a shift by shift basis. Whether your checklist is having a manager check temperatures or sanitizer concentrations. Or they are using checklists for sanitizing or cross contamination prevention. Manager’s who use checklists diligently run better operations than those who don’t. The checklist keeps them focused and reminds them of all the steps that they need to complete a task and to run safer operations.
Situational Checklists can also guide managers on how to properly address situations that might not happen very often. Checklists on how to manage a foodborne illness outbreak at their restaurant, or a cleaning checklist that they use if they send an employee home who is sick. These kinds of checklists ensure that every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed in an efficient manner.
A platform like OpsAnalitica takes checklists to the next level because we provide visibility and accountability at all levels of the organization. We can see if a manager is following the checklists or pencil whipping them. We can provide visibility from the CEO down to the manager of a unit. Plus our system is self-documenting and organizing. When you complete a checklist on our system it is filed and stored in the cloud accessible from any connected device. No more scrambling to find all of your old temp logs or wasting time filing and organizing, they are just there when you need them.
Here are some resources I found that I thought were good and not too long.
- CDC Norovirus Video – this video is cartoonish but it is full of good info, it’s free, and it’s short.
- E-coli Summary Video – this video is put out by a food testing lab and will give you a crash course on E-coli.
- Handwashing Training Video – I like that this video recommends turning off the faucet with your paper towel. It also launches into a series of training videos. If you are an independent and you don’t have a big training budget utilize YouTube to help your restaurant.
- HACCP Training for Food Handlers – this video was made in Canada and is very Canadian. The video is full of great info and is only 8 minutes long. Also, mentally convert all temperatures to Fahrenheit.
- Shaping your restaurant’s food safety defense plan – this is a great article from NRN about what is coming down the pike from a food safety plan at the restaurant level. It speaks about the concept of Active Managerial Control and Checklists.
- Foodborne Illness Response Guidelines – developed by CIFOR (Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response) this document is cited in multiple articles that I researched.
- The Real Cost of Not Having an Effective Food Safety Management System – this article is a good read about costs associated with not having a good program in place. It also cites several very scary stats around actual deaths that occurred from improper food handling, it is worth reading alone to remind yourself how much responsibility we have.
- 8 Cleaning Tips to Keep Norovirus at Bay – you may have to register to view this content but I think it is worth it.
- Summary of Food Safety Articles on the Restaurant Hospitality site.
- Norovirus Infographic – this was prepared by CDC and is worth a quick look
One common denominator in food service safety from HACCP to SQF, to the CIFOR response plan is checklists and documentation. Checklists are not a nice to have they are a must have in running safe restaurants. Check out the OpsAnalitica Inspector and see how we can help you run better, safer, and more profitable restaurants.
Just this week I came across the above graphic and an article out of QSR Mazazine citing a national study that showed 74% of consumers expect better food safety. The same study also found “that while a slight majority (53 percent) of U.S. consumers say that their level of concern about food safety has stayed about the same in the past few years, 46 percent of consumers say their level of concern has increased and only 1 percent report it has decreased”. Click here to read the full article.
Now more than ever, thanks in part to the Chipotle situation, there’s a lot of scrutiny on the restaurant industry. When such a great, popular, well trusted brand can have issues the sentiment is that it can happen to anyone. And it can.
Multi-unit operators need to be able to know that every location is running safely, every shift. For a single unit operator it’s easier because they are at their location, in person, every day, for the most part. When you have 15 locations spread out across town or 100 across a region of the country or thousands throughout the world you can’t possibly be at every location every day. Therefore, you need to rely on a very well trained staff to execute in the manner they were trained. The easiest, most efficient manner to manage these expectations is through checklists with follow up. You need to inspect what you expect.
Every restaurant chain in the world has access to their register and customer service data for every location at all times, but very few have access to their daily operations data such as temp logs or know for sure that every location completed a full line check before each meal period including staff/FOH readiness, refrigeration temps, holding temps, quality tasting, checking for FIFO, and any other chain specific items related to food safety and guest experience. That is ridiculous, that is very, very important data which when monitored correctly will reduce foodborne illness outbreaks.
In the franchise system world it’s even more important. Consumers, for the most part, don’t understand that it’s Tommy that owns these 10 McDonald’s if they get sick at McDonald’s their are going to go after corporate. Tommy will be in trouble too, but the news story is the large chain got someone sick. It doesn’t matter where it happens either. If someone gets sick in Seattle the brand will suffer in Florida as well. Food safety is important stuff which we all know, but in today’s world information travels at light speeds and spreads like wild fire. Food safety has to be a priority and needs to be managed constantly.
The number in the above graphic isn’t exactly chump change. This is going to draw attention to consumers and thus government officials to try to get this number down. Stay ahead of the curve and start managing by checklists now. It’s not a decision you will ever regret.
Click here to get our list of 8 Daily Must Do Checklists for Restaurants delivered to your inbox for free.
Keep on Inspecting!
A prospective client was evaluating the OpsAnalitica Platform against a competitor’s inspection platform recently. Even though on the surface we are very similar in that we allow people to conduct restaurant inspections through an app, when you look deeper we are worlds apart. You see this other platform is a 3rd party inspection audit platform that is being used in many different industries.
OpsAnalitica is a restaurant checklist and reporting app, and we only focus on restaurants. As you continue to dig into both platforms, you can very clearly see the design choices that were made to accommodate each platform’s core clients.
One quick example: the competitors platform is for 3rd party auditors, so they chose to rely heavily on printing reports and leaving them on-site as the inspector is going to leave.
The OpsAnalitica Platform was designed to be used by the company to self-inspect so we focus on advanced reporting options through our portal because our clients are going to have access to the portal.
As we continued to look at the competitor’s website it became very apparent that restaurants weren’t their focus, they have pictures all over their site of factory workers and jets. They don’t even call out the restaurant industry as a focal point. Choosing a software vendor that isn’t hyper-focused on your industry is a big deal, and I will explain why in a second.
Having multi-industry appeal might not seem like a big deal, and you might say, “well why wouldn’t a software vendor sell their product to a wider audience?”. They should if their product is universal, like Microsoft Excel, and a lot of times it’s completely fine, but there are instances where it can be trouble for one of the industries.
The restaurant industry is one of these industries because it’s unique in certain aspects: multi-language support, limited time to conduct inspections and checklists, unique data needs, hostile operating environment, training requirements, etc..
The issue becomes design choices, customer enhancement requests, and new features.
I’ve been in the software business for a long time now and here’s how new software is designed and feature requests are evaluated and prioritized.
Every software company will poll their clients for feedback on what they’d like to see as far as new features/products, etc. Software developers can develop some incredible stuff that will blow your mind away, but if it doesn’t add any value to the core customer experience, it’s worthless.
It would be like a vegan restaurant advertising the highest quality, juiciest, most perfectly prepared filet mignon in the world. It might be the best thing ever, but does nothing for their clients.
Clients and product managers have an idea of what they would like to see in the platform based off of their real world experience and where competition is driving the market. Often what clients and product managers want for the product are conflicting.
This conflict makes it difficult to decide which enhancements to engineer into the product. The tendency will be to lean towards requests from the most valuable clients to the company.
If you aren’t in the same industry as a firm’s biggest clients, your needs will not be prioritized because your requests won’t be in-line and benefit the core client base. There’s a large chain that we are working with right now that expressed this exact concern with a solution they have currently. Since it isn’t a restaurant solution, they aren’t able to get their desired enhancements implemented promptly.
In the case of this competitor, if they are primarily focused on large industry and aircraft as their website suggests, then a restaurant features may not make sense for those other industries and probably won’t get implemented into the product.
Remember, every extra button click, or piece of functionality costs money to develop and maintain. There are real dollars and limited time at stake for software companies to add features and functionality to a platform, and they try their best to make sure the features have mass appeal and will generate maximum ROI.
In the OpsAnalitica case where we focus on the restaurant industry, there is a lot of consistency in what the clients are requesting, and that makes it very easy for us to evaluate and prioritize the development of their requests.
Our question flagging functionality that allows inspectors to flag a response for review before they submit a checklist was requested by a client and added to the platform within a month.
At OpsAnalitica, our background is multi-unit restaurant operations. Our restaurant checklist and reporting platform are developed specifically for the multi-unit restaurant operator.
If you are a multi-unit restaurant operator, and you are looking for a checklist and reporting app be wary of vendors servicing mainly manufacturers or airline/trucking fleets, hospitals, construction, etc., but also have a few restaurant clients. You want to make sure that your voice will be heard and that your challenges will drive the future of the solution.
Click here to watch a 14 minute recorded demo of the OpsAnalitica platform or if you would rather be able to ask questions and dive a little deeper into the platform click here to schedule a live demo.
Keep on Inspecting!
Last weekend I ordered pizza from a new place in our neighborhood that we had never tried. We had friends over, and they swear by this place, so we gave them a shot.
The pizza was flavorless. My friend who orders from them regularly commented on how the pizza wasn’t up to par. My guess is that someone over there screwed up on their sauce recipe because the pizza looked properly constructed.
My order was $30 for a pizza, wings, and a salad. I’m not going to order from them again for quite some time if ever. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and they didn’t do well.
So now, all of their hard work to get me as a new customer was for nothing. All of the marketing, the mailers, the signage, the making great pizza for my friends so many times amounted to nothing in my case.
Here is the kicker, this entire scenario was avoidable by doing a line check and tasting their sauce and ingredients before the shift. A line check would have caught this issue, and they would have had time to fix their sauce.
Had they done a line check and served the pizza they thought they were; I might be an enthusiastic new customer of theirs.
Line checks are not optional. They are a required for running a successful restaurant.
I would like to give you our new white paper, 7 Tips for Faster Better Line Checks today by clicking here. In this white paper, we do a deep dive on some ways to make your line check more effective and quicker to execute.
Hope you have a safe and profitable New Years Eve!
If you have any questions give me a call or send me an email any time. Or if you are interested in seeing an OpsAnalitica demo, click here to schedule.
Question and response tagging.
Sounds great doesn’t it?
Well… What is it?
Ok let’s take a look at what question and response tagging is and what it means to your checklists and operations data. It is hugely beneficial and saves you one of your most precious resources. Time. And we all know what time is.
Let’s say you wanted to see a report with all of your not safe refrigeration temperatures across your chain. Question and response tags make this so unbelievably easy.
With OpsAnalitica you can get this report generated and emailed to you on a schedule as often as you need. For this particular example we hope that the report is empty. No news is good news.
Tagging facilitates management by exception. By tagging your questions with a common attribute(s) it allows you to quickly look at those questions across your chain regardless of which checklists/inspections they are associated to or the location.
To narrow this report down some you might want to only look at temps that are not safe or safe, but not optimal. See, analyzing your temp data over time and comparing it to food cost you might find that there is an optimal temperature range for your operations where you see less spoilage.
So even though some of your locations might recording safe temps on a daily basis, they may not be in the optimal range. With OpsAnalitica’s dynamic scoring and response tagging you can tag and score temp responses appropriately based on the temp recorded in the line check.
For example you might give 0 points and the not safe and not optimal tags for temps above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, 5 points and the safe tag for temps that are between 33-34 and 38-40, and finally 10 points and the safe and optimal tags for temps between 35-37.
Now you can focus your time on getting all your locations to the optimal range, thus reducing food spoilage and increasing profits.
This is just one example. There are tons more. Staff readiness, FOH cleanliness, any metric that you feel is important, etc.
The goal is to maximize your time and expertise on the areas and locations that need you the most. Provide you with the actionable data that you need without all the distractions.
2016 is right around the corner, and we all want to start it off right. Watch our 14 minute recorded demo by clicking here to see how OpsAnalitica uses question and response tagging to help restaurant operators across the world run better operations.
Commit to running better, safer, and more profitable restaurants with OpsAnalitica in 2016. There is still time, we can have most organizations up and running within 1 business day.
If you would rather see a live demo and get all your questions answered, click here to schedule.
If you have any questions give me a call or send me an email any time.
A couple of years ago I met with a Chipotle Director to show him the Inspector app of that time. My hope going into the meeting was that he would have been so blown away that he would have walked us into the VP of Ops office.
He didn’t, full disclaimer, he wasn’t officially speaking on behalf of Chipotle when he decided not to bring it to his bosses, we were just two guys having dinner.
The reason I’m even recounting this to you was his reasoning for not wanting to bring it to his bosses. In his opinion, the culture at Chipotle was not about checklists. Chipotle’s culture is based on the belief that if you hire the right people, train and empower them than you don’t need checklists.
I agree with their philosophy on hiring great people and would argue that checklists are vital to all industries but especially to the restaurant industry.
Checklists provide focus, and when checklists are completed thoughtfully and followed-up on, they drive safety and consistency in operations.
Chipotle’s CEO officially apologized this week and said that the controls they are putting place are going to make them the safest place to eat in the country. Here is a link to a Slate Article Chipotle is So, So Sorry for Sickening all Those Students.
The last paragraph of the article states that Chipotle is planning on more audits, which is a good thing.
The only way to ensure that you are running safe operations is through consistent daily checklists and inspections of your locations by your employees.
I would like to give you, for free, our 4 Daily Must-Do Steps to Safer Restaurants white paper. It details a model of for the kind of self-inspection program you should consider implementing in your restaurants.
Get your copy of the 4 Daily Must-Do Steps to Safer Restaurants by clicking on the link.
If you are interested in starting a daily self-inspection program in your restaurants in 2016, you should know that there is still time. We can get OpsAnalitica implemented in most chains within 1 business day.
Click on the schedule a demo link to see the platform in action or if you have any questions give me a call or send me an email any time.