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6 Types of Food Comps and How You Can Reduce Food Costs

Busy Kitchen

I was recently talking to one of our clients about the OpsAnalitica Inspector, and he was telling me how it helps their company reduce Food Costs.

See if this sounds familiar, their managers have always been required to do pre-shift line checks. Even before they had implemented OpsAnalitica they did their line checks like most people do, on a clipboard with pen and paper.

With OpsAnalitica, each manager knows that their Area Manager can look at a report and see when and if they completed their line check each shift. Our client said that he first looks for restaurants that aren’t completing their line checks and then he looks for the inevitable increase in food cost that follows. No line check = increased comps. That is one of the ways he determines which restaurants he will be concentrating on.

When you don’t do line checks, you are letting your customer find your mistakes instead of catching them yourself.

In the spirit of this story, I have identified six different types of food comps and what you can do to stop or reduce them.

1. Crazy or dishonest customer
I mention this one first because I believe that the perception in the industry is that crazy customers are the number one reason for food comps but if you tracked your comps by reason my guess is that crazy customers would account for a small amount of total comps.

There are people who don’t read menu descriptions or don’t ask questions. They order food that they hated in the past but want to give another try or they can’t eat because of allergies.  These customers don’t want to pay for it if they aren’t going to eat it.

Let’s take it one step further, there are crooks out there, they are a small percentage of people who eat at your restaurant, but they do exist.  They order food with every intention of eating some of it and then lying about it to get the dish removed from their bill.

I went through some advanced customer service training when I worked for The Grove in Los Angeles; the training was based on the Ritz-Carlton method. The Groves owner’s standpoint was this, that yes there are people who are going to lie and think they pulled a fast one on you. Those liars are such a small percentage of your customers that it isn’t worth confronting them or allowing your staff to provide less service to them because they believe that the person is lying.  The cost to your business or your reputation, if you are wrong, is so much higher than one comped dish.  If you allow you or your team to make those judgment calls, and you get it wrong with a genuine person, they may never come back. You just have to suck it up as a cost of doing business.

As a manager, I always had a hard time with this because I didn’t like the feeling I had in my stomach when I could tell that one of these liars thought they were so cool and got away with something. It bothered me, but I grinned and beared it because our owner was right, and when I was able to fix a situation for a customer of ours that we genuinely made a mistake on, I was thankful for the power that I had to rectify the situation and deliver on our service promise.

Now with Yelp and Social media I think this is even more important today to treat every customer like gold because these reviews can live online forever.

You can’t do anything about this type of food comp other than training your servers well around the menu and paying attention to items that are getting returned more than others.  If you identify certain items that are returned more often, get them off your menu or ensure that servers are fully explaining the items to guests as they order. Ex “Just so you know this isn’t your traditional calamari that is deep fried and breaded, this is a stewed calamari that is in a bowl of sauce.”  Try to head the comp off a the pass with over communication.

2. Server Screw-up
Servers make mistakes. There are any number of reasons for these mistakes: didn’t hear the customer correctly, didn’t ask clarifying questions, didn’t understand the menu item or how the dish is prepared, was overwhelmed at the moment, was hung over or tired.

I was pretty consistently hungover or overly tired in my twenties. When I came into work hungover, I made mistakes, and the restaurant comped some food.

Server orders the food incorrectly and the guest returns it.  You solve this by tracking comps by server. You coach and train servers that have more comps and if you can’t fix them then they may not be the right fit for your restaurant. You do pre-shift meetings and evaluate your team before the shift and make adjustments when you have to. Send servers home that are hung over or look like they slept in their uniforms, make an example of people and hold everyone to the level of professionalism that you expect. Spend more time training servers before they hit the floor in their sections, it’s more than just menu knowledge its table management.

3. Kitchen makes order incorrectly
This type of comp is very similar to number 2 Server Screw-up, it’s just on the other side of the house. The kitchen makes an order incorrectly, and the guest returns the item. Kitchen mistakes happen more often when there are modifications to the dish, and they don’t make it correctly. The solution is the same, train your staff to ask more questions. A cook should never complete a dish unless they fully understand what they are doing. Servers should be trained when there are a lot of modifications to an order to go back to the kitchen and explain the mods to the cooks or check with the cooks if they are doable before ordering.  If you have cooks that don’t know how to make the menu items, then you have to train and coach them and if they don’t improve this probably isn’t the right restaurant for them.

4. Kitchen makes recipe mistake
This type of comp is different from making an order wrong this is where they made an ingredient, a sauce for example, incorrectly and it tastes horrible. Kitchen prepares food with horrible tasting ingredient and guest send food back.

Kitchen recipe mistakes are one of the easiest issues to catch if you do line checks. A manager should taste every sauce, every soup, all side dishes each meal to ensure that they taste the way they are supposed to. Then you can catch your mistakes before your customer catches them for you. Recipe mistakes are 100% avoidable when doing line checks. In our experience, a restaurant that makes more of their food from scratch on a daily basis will see a greater reduction in food cost from performing line checks.

5. Kitchen takes too long to make food
Food taking too long to get to the table is a double a whammy because it is probably affecting more than one table and can generate a lot of comps when nothing was wrong with the food. There are several reasons this can happen:

  • The kitchen is just slammed because everyone sat at once.
  • The kitchen is slammed because they weren’t stocked to par and not all of their food is thawed and ready – slowing down cook times. This once again should be caught and addressed during the line check.
  • The kitchen or the service staff are making mistakes and there a lot of refires that are jumping in line and overwhelming the kitchen staff.

If this is a consistent issue, then you have to take the proper management actions and get the right people on your team.

6. Food runners make mistakes

Food runners sometimes drop off food at the wrong table. I think the rule is that if they leave the food on the table and walk away or the guest touches the food then they can’t give it to the correct guest, and now we have a comp. This is a training and communication issue. They should be trained not to leave a table where there is any question that the food isn’t correct. If they keep the dish on their tray or off the table, they can figure out what is happening and avoid the comp.

Take Aways

After looking at these different types of food comps, you can boil them down to a couple of core issues.

  • Managers that have not confirmed they are ready for service – line checks and pre-shifts.
  • Bad communication – training and hiring decisions.

1. Using line checks and pre-shifts to confirm that you are safe and ready for service are a no-brainer is the low-hanging fruit in these scenarios because you are 100% in complete control of doing this. Whether you are the manager of 1 location or 100’s of locations you can benefit from implementing a pre-shift/line check protocol in your restaurants. The key to making your line check protocol a success is following-up with your managers on a daily basis to make sure they are doing these pre-shifts correctly. If you implement pre-shifts with follow-up you could see your comps and food waste go down; we’ve seen as much as 1/2 to 2% with some of our clients.

2. Bad communication stems from hiring and training issues and are much harder to address because each person is different and each shift that they work is unique. When you are training your team, make sure they understand the why behind what you are asking them to do. Make sure you train them on using clarifying questions and always to get more information before ringing up an item or making an item.

3. Show the team what comps cost the restaurant. I think that it’s beneficial to do training around food cost and how it affects the business. I’ve seen this attitude where employees compare what they would buy a steak for in the grocery store and how much the restaurant sells it for. They believe that the restaurant is swimming in profits, anyone who has ever managed a restaurant knows the truth.

Hold a training session where you show your BOH and FOH teams the cost of each part of a menu item. Factor in labor and everything else that goes into serving this plate to a guest, go crazy here and really dig deep into your costs. A good way to do that is to divide the average meals served in a month into all of your fixed costs (insurance, rent, loans, etc.) and do the same with your non-food variable costs (profit % of rent, power, etc.).  Calculate the true all inclusive plate cost and watch your teams reactions when they understand that there is really only a small percentage of profit on every dish. Explain to them that when we make a mistake or have to comp a dish how that adds up. By explaining the numbers to your team and how comps affect those numbers, you will hopefully see some change in behavior.

If you don’t do this already, I recommend that you track the causes of your food comps in your register system or on paper. It could be as simple as:

  • Server Error
  • Kitchen Error
  • Food Runner Error
  • Customer Didn’t Like.

Review those numbers after a period and look for patterns.  This exercise should tell you where you can focus some attention to your business.

Comps are a fact of life because we are in a people business. I’m a big believer in Control what you can Control and manage to the rest. So many of the comps that we highlighted were because of a lack of communication between the customer and the server, the server and the kitchen team, the kitchen team and the server, or the kitchen team and the food runners. Those people comps we have to manage to as best we can and make the hard decisions when we have to.

Doing line checks and pre-shifts is part of the control what you can control philosophy.  Restaurant managers should be doing line checks every shift and following up with their teams to ensure they are getting done accurately. If you do this, you will be able to reduce comps and food waste.

If you would like to learn more about how OpsAnalitica can help you with line check compliance and reducing your food comps, click here  to watch our OpsAnalitica demo video.

Tough Year for Chipotle

It’s been a tough year for Chipotle. From pork supplier issues to a salmonella outbreak in Minnesota, a norovirus issue in California, and now the latest e coli outbreak in the pacific northwest closing some 43 locations.

Now you can’t blame all of these issues on Chipotle. The pork supplier was a case of Chipotle sticking to their guns on responsibly sourced ingredients, but it still cost them a good amount sales. But it will pay off in the long run with their ravenous fans.

The food-borne illness outbreaks, however, are completely opposite issues. This is bad press for the king of the hill. You have to wonder if there is something broken in their processes or supplier selection. Just in passing I’ve heard from a few different people, not in the restaurant industry, that quality has gone down recently. All this points to something that isn’t working as it should.

It’s interesting because we talked to Chipotle a while back about our solution. The response we got was that the culture at Chipotle doesn’t allow for checklists and follow up. Their philosophy is that if you hire the right people and treat them well they will do the right thing. This is absolutely true. To an extent.

The issue is that everyone is different and has had different life experiences. This brings about a different view of the world for everyone. So thing that you as the business owner know are important may not seem as important to your managers. If left to their own discretion they will not focus as much on the things that you want them to as they will naturally gravitate to ares they think are most important and where they feel they can add the most value. How much you pay them will have zero influence. They might just do what they think is most important better.

This can leave your operations somewhat vulnerable. If you are paying a couple extra bucks more than the competition you will attract better talent for sure, but you still need to have defined processes and inspect what you expect.

The reality is there are real consequences in our industry for getting someone sick. Just take a look at the ex Peanut Corporation of America owner and CEO. He was recently sentenced to 28 years in prison. Granted he was blatantly negligent and knowingly shipped tainted product. But the bar has been set. Food safety has to be taken very seriously.

Having a repeatable, documented process is the only way to minimize these outbreaks. A strategy around consistent daily execution will help you run safer restaurants all around.

Click here to check out a recording of our webinar, Setting Up An In-House Self Inspection Program.

Free Management by Exception Webinar

We would like to invite you to our Running Better Restaurants in Less Time webinar, on 11/5/2015 at 3:00 pm Centralclick here to register.

This webinar is going to be packed full of best practices around managing your restaurants by exception.

Management By Exception (MBE):  is a practice where only significant deviations from set standards, ex: unsafe temperatures or operating conditions, are brought to the attention of management. The idea behind it is that management’s attention will be focused only on those areas in need of action and immediate follow-up.

We are going to cover the following topics:  

  • Management by Exception for Restaurants
  • The Power of Exception Reports & Dynamic Scoring
  • How to Implement Exception Reports in your Company
  • Building Exception Reports in the OpsAnalitica Report Builder

This webinar is going to be full of good information, and you are guaranteed to leave with some ideas that you could implement in your business immediately.

Register Here – act now as these webinar’s fill up quick.

We all know that the only way to get location managers to do what we need them to do is to hold them accountable and follow-up.

Implementing a MBE program in your chain will give you the tools to follow-up quickly and consistently.

Webinar:  Running Better Restaurants in Less Time

Time & Date:  11/5/2015 3:00 pm Central

Click to Register

Face the Facts: It’s a Drag and Drop World – Part III

Here’s part III of the series, the final installment. To catch up on part I click here, part II click here.

How to Craft a Workflow Strategy

  • Seek out a check-list driven workflow app provider that has restaurant specific knowledge.
  • Examine the pedigree of the management of the app provider.  The restaurant business is perhaps the most idiosyncratic business in the world.  Do they really know what goes on in the kitchen and on the floor?
  • Don’t be a guinea pig for a company that’s trying to break into the restaurant sector with new app development.
  • See how quickly the workflow app provider can implement you with their “off the shelf” apps, and how quickly they can customized a new workflow app for you.  Sometimes, as with OpsAnalitica, it’s as simple as upoading a spreadsheet.
  • Make sure your provider offers dashboard views of procedure compliance.
  • Make sure your provider offers analytics of your operations, because they are the “window into the soul” of your business. 

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Maximizing Your ROI

  • Technology at any cost is worthless unless it quickly pays back your investment.
  • Accountability management workflow apps, like those from OpsAnalitica, are famously quick to earn back initial investments… in part because they are relatively inexpensive to put in place to begin with.
  • When searching providers, be sure to look for an ROI calculator, or case studies that show how quick the earn-back was.

Finally, ask your accountability management workflow app provider for their input on which apps will do the most to optimize your restaurant locations.

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Face the Facts: It’s a Drag and Drop World – Part II

Here’s part II of this series. Part I was posted yesterday. If you haven’t read part I yet click here and read it first.

Signs you are ready for Workflow Management Apps

The obvious signs that you’re ready for workflow management apps are:

  • Your operations are unprofitable
  • You can’t identify where your problems originate
  • You suffer food quality issues
  • Your operations are in disarray
  • Your operations are disorganized
  • You can’t track or account for losses
  • You are suffering from high staff turnover
  • You are suffering from low employee morale
  • Your services or locations have been red-tagged
  • Your locations have failed a health inspection
  • Your services or locations have been panned on Yelp or TripAdvisor

All of the issues listed above can very likely be solved by creating best-practice workflows, and driving them into your operations through apps on mobile devices.

Let’s look at but one item from above: “You suffer food quality issues.”  A workflow can be instituted to track and Q/A all food items, from the moment they are dropped off, through their storage (temp controls, quantity, dating, expiration dates) to their use (inventory monitoring, ingredient checks) to their preparation (standardized menus deployed, kitchen staff protocols enforced), to their service (wait staff prep, facility prep) to clean up (facility open/close protocols enforced).

What’s best, management can use dashboard-style systems to monitor compliance and get alerts to workflow variations, in real-time, tied to the person responsible.

The question is not: “Are you ready for workflow management apps?” The real question is: “Who isn’t!?” 

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How Workflow Management Apps Improve Productivity

Workflow management apps, like those from OpsAnalitica, improve productivity for these basic reasons:

  • The apps standardize procedures and workflows mentioned above:
    • Line checks
    • Temp checks
    • Menu standardization
    • Setup checks
    • Open checklists
    • Closing checklists
    • Employee onboarding
    • Employee training
    • OSHA compliance
    • Health inspection compliance
    • Customized apps
  • The apps allow for compliance checkup
  • The apps can be adopted from standard workflows, or…
  • The apps can be customized to display entirely unique data sets

By putting procedures in place (either standardized procedures or procedures customized just for your organization), users can drive best practices through an organization, enforce compliance, and monitor variances.

Click here to read part III.

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Don’t Market Yourself Off A Cliff

Screenshot 2015-10-20 12.46.40Screenshot 2015-10-20 12.48.41

Two of the most iconic moments in film history are Thelma & Louise driving off that cliff and Butch and Sundance charging out the door to take on the Bolivian army.

They are scenes of people choosing their destruction.

There are restaurant owners and managers that do the same thing every day.

Screenshot 2015-08-09 08.41.41

We recently wrote a blog about how GrubHub was hurting restaurants that weren’t ready for the sales increases. Restaurants would put themselves on GrubHub and start to get a ton of delivery orders and then not be able to keep up with the volume of both deliveries and in-house guests.

When Groupon first came out, there were stories of restaurants getting so slammed with Groupon customers, especially around expiration dates, that they angered many first-time visitors and in a lot of ways did more harm to their business than good.  This happened to some amazing waffle guys in Denver that I spoke to.

When I first got on Groupon, I watched this idiot massage guy sell over 3,000 $39 90-minute massages in one day. I did the math, and it would have taken this guy over three years full-time doing these deeply discounted massages to get through all the Groupons he had sold. It was crazy. Ironically the next day he enlisted five other massage people to help him work all the Groupons and I don’t think my wife ever got hers.

Back in 2008 I ran the Franchise Assistance Program for a large sandwich franchisor. It was a tough job to have right at the beginning of the recession because a lot of our franchisees were hurting and required assistance.

I was only allowed to give qualified franchisees access to our delivery platform for free. Adding delivery makes a lot of sense for a sophisticated operator who has the bandwidth to market and successfully implement the program. Delivering food requires additional employees and can stress a team if you don’t have the proper set-up. Look at a Jimmy Johns, they have one sandwich line for their in-store customers and one just for delivery, they are set-up correctly.

Unfortunately, for most of our franchisees, delivery wasn’t something that could help them because they couldn’t implement it successfully.  For those franchisees who did it half-assed, it probably hurt them more than it helped them.

My point is this. There are tons of new technology solutions being marketed to the restaurant industry that will help you drive new sales: table kiosks, delivery, carry out, mobile ordering apps, etc.. They can be great tools for your business if your operations are rock solid, you staff up, and you put the systems in place to handle the increased volume.

If you don’t plan for the increase, it is like sending out a coupon that is priced incorrectly, a coupon where you lose money on every redemption. The coupon is the best deal ever, and people redeem it. You feel great about all the business you are getting until you see your bank statement. You marketed yourself right out of business.

A lot of these tools get a service charge per transaction or take a percentage of the sale, so their motivation is to get you a ton of transactions. Your motivation as a restaurant owner is to take great care of your guests and run a financially successful business. Those motivations can be at odds with each other. I think a lot of Groupon’s early customers felt that way.

If you are going to open a new sales channel, then you should do the following things:

  • Put together a financial plan to determine how much it is going to cost you in staffing, food inventory, etc.
  • Make sure you can afford to start this channel for at least 30 to 90 day period.
    • In some cases, you will get busy right away and the danger is in not being prepared.
    • In other cases, you may experience the opposite, which is not enough sales and you have increased your labor and food costs. You need to be able to hold on and give this test a chance to be successful.
  • Make sure you time starting the new channel correctly.
    • Don’t just turn it on, plan it out and start slowly.
  • Find out if the vendor can throttle you in their system to ensure that you don’t get slammed when you aren’t prepared.
    • It’s always better to drink from a trickle than a fire hose.
  • Focus on customer service and quality of product above all else.
    • If you do that then the increased sales will come and be sustained.
  • Make sure you are running safe and efficient operations before adding a new sales channel.
    • Volume increases bring out hidden issues in your operations very quickly.
    • Consider using an automated checklist program, OpsAnalitica, to ensure safety and readiness every shift.

Marketing and adding new sales channels can grow profitability and expand a restaurant’s trade area exposing it to new customers. Generating more cash and growth. This growth can only happen when the new channel is implemented flawlessly, and the quality of the product matches the customer’s expectations.

If operations cannot keep up with new demand, then the new channel can accelerate the demise of your business, and you can market yourself right off a cliff.

Face the Facts: It’s a Drag and Drop World – Part I

You either get dragged (or drag yourself) into restaurant management and accountability technology…

Or be forced to drop out for running an unprofitable business.

There is no middle ground.

That’s for one simple reason: Perhaps 15 years ago it was possible to run a business without a web page, but today it is not. You cannot run a successful restaurant without technology. It’s impossible to do so profitably. It’s just a matter of how much and what kind of technology you adopt.

The days of the hippy cafes or sandwich shops managed all loosey goosey are long gone.  Now, competitors with iPads, tablets, web apps, and interactive spreadsheets will eat your lunch, while serving lunch to all the customers who used to go to the old establishment.

Whether it’s food inventory management, staff scheduling, reservations, or automated line checks, restaurant management and accountability technology is here to stay, and it’s only getting more innovative, more seamless, more integrated.  In fact, the next wave of restaurant management technology is focused workflow and accountability management, and there are exciting solutions on the market today.

Enforcing Best Practice Management

  • Today’s workflow management and accountability technology actually enforces best practices.  The workflows are driven forth through procedurally organized critical paths.
  • That means automated management of such activities as:
    • Line checks
    • Temp checks
    • Menu standardization
    • Setup checks
    • Open checklists
    • Closing checklists
    • Employee onboarding
    • Employee training
    • OSHA compliance
    • Health inspection compliance
    • Any procedure: You name it, even custom workflows
  • These critical paths can be set up to be self-improving, and informed by positive feedback loops.
  • The procedures and workflow that used to be dependent on someone’s memory, or on a list taped to the walk-in… they can now be standardized in an app suite.
  • The value of any standardized workflow is only as good as your ability to put in the hands of all your workers.
  • App-driven workflows can be easily deployed on smart phones, iPads, and tablets.  Linked to the internet, the data that spins off from the apps can feed corporate awareness of operations at extremely granular levels.
  • Reporting and compliance can be monitored through management dashboards.

Click here to view part II.

Share Your Thoughts On The Industry

Every week we aspire to create content for you that will make a difference in your business. You guys have downloaded tens of thousands of reports, eBooks, tools, and articles.  

http://bit.ly/1M83oSQ  

Some weeks we create content that is very popular, and hundreds of you respond by downloading it.   

Other weeks we miss the boat completely.   

If you could take just 3 minutes and tell me what is the single biggest challenge that you’re struggling with in your multi-unit restaurant operations right now.  

A) It would mean the world to me.  B), most importantly I’ll be able to use that information to gear my upcoming emails toward topics you specifically want to know more about.

Click here to take survey.

Keep on Inspecting!

Visibility: What Does It Mean For Multi-Unit Operators

An Amazing Story About Checklists

Wow! What an amazing write up about checklists in Restaurant Hospitality. It’s an older article from 2012, but it’s timeless. There’s no better use case for implementing checklists than what the author lays out in this article.

He talks about taking the unknown out of making sure that your staff is getting things done and doing it correctly. He mentions that your own life experiences drive what’s “common sense” to you and since your staff hasn’t had the same life experiences your views of common sense will be different. Thus laying out what you want accomplished into a checklist ensures that the things you want done will get done, your way.

There are some great tips in the article (copied below) about how to go about creating your checklists. Also talks about the ever evolving checklist that changes over time. That makes complete sense as the way you do business today may (probably) won’t be the same as you do it down the road.

He also talks about accountability and if you don’t actually follow up on the checklists and look at them your staff will notice and stop doing them all together. Everyone is busy and if they perceive a task as being unimportant they will push it to the end of the list. So following up on the checklists and using them as coaching opportunities will ensure that they continue to get done, which is what you want.

Now the one thing that is missing from all of this is the automation piece. Being that it’s 3 years old can have something to do with it as mobile technology has come a long way in the last years. It was around for sure, but the devices, bandwidth, affordability, and usability of technology has progressed at warp speeds the last few years.

Conducting all of your checklists on a mobile device and storing the data in the cloud available for anyone in the organization (with the proper permissions) to view is the final piece to the puzzle. Now you can make sure that not only are the checklists are getting done, but who really did it, when did they complete it, how long did it take them to complete it, etc. You can put rules and processes in place based on the answers submitted so the follow up can be automated. You can manage by exception through management dashboards and proactive reports.

None of those things can happen when you are collecting the data with pen, paper, and a clipboard. Right now it’s so simple and affordable to implement. Plus all your employees are so tech savvy so they will have no problem doing the checklists on their phone or the store ipad.

Click here to watch a video of a checklist app in action!

I have copied the full article from Restaurant Hospitality below:

Checklists help ensure tasks get done your way

If you think all of your employees possess the common sense to complete tasks successfully, you’re wrong. Employing a simple checklist eliminates the need for common sense.
Do you sometimes just want to fire everyone in your restaurant and do all the work yourself? Do you wonder why people can’t just do it the way you want it done? Do you ever find yourself saying, “It’s common sense?”

Common sense is a shared understanding based on experience. I can tell you right now that your managers, each and every one of them, do not share your experiences. They have not grown up in your shoes. They do not possess the same core values. They are not you and will not automatically do things your way just because you think they should have common sense.

You can overcome your assumptions about common sense with an easy two-step process.

Step 1: Create checklists for everything!

Creating checklists sounds so simple, yet I can’t even begin to count how many restaurants don’t have them. And when checklists do get drafted, many restaurant owners are not explicit enough about what they want done or how they want it done.

Here’s the easy way to avoid this pitfall. Grab a pad of paper, stand outside your front door and start writing down everything you see on a daily basis that needs to get done. Especially note the things that really get your blood boiling because they seem so obvious. Continue writing as you walk through your restaurant.

Be precise in your expectations. For example, “Clean glass on front door every two hours, starting with opening shift.” Then list the times.

When your list is complete, task one of your managers to customize opening and closing checklists incorporating every item on your list for every position. Remember, you cannot be too specific.

You have no idea how happy this will make your management team. They’re happy they no longer have to read your mind or endure your inevitable freak out. With lists in hand, your management team will be cool, calm and collected when they see you coming. They can say with confidence they didn’t miss anything if they followed the simple checklist.

Side note: Your checklists are never finished. You will continue to add all of the new things that drive you crazy as they come up. Don’t be surprised if your checklists are two to six pages long. But also don’t be surprised at how well they work.

Step 2: Follow up on the checklists.

Now that you have your checklists and have trained your managers and staff to use them, the easy part is done. You will see results almost immediately. I guarantee it.

But here’s what tends to happen. About three weeks after implementing checklists, when your managers see that you are not looking in the designated binder to confirm the checklists are being used, your managers will start to slack off. And once they slack off, everyone else will slack off. Eventually they’ll quit using them altogether.

How do you hold them accountable? To start, review the checklists daily at first. Find what your managers are missing and point it out. Better yet, show them how you want it done. It’s your job to coach your managers and help them be successful.

Once you see they are following them routinely, you can start to randomly spot check them a few times a week. These checklists will keep everyone on the same page for as long as they’re maintained, but you must check them or they will go away.

When you don’t communicate your expectations to your managers, you’re setting them up to fail. You’re also setting yourself up for endless frustration. Checklists give you an easy way to communicate your expectations and an easy way for your managers to know what is expected of them. This way, everyone is happy.

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