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How to fix Subway

In this two part series of the OrderUp Show Tommy walks us through the rise and fall of the largest sandwich chain in the world.

He also gives his thoughts on what he would do to save the chain. He’s got experience in this area as he was involved with a very similar situation in the late 2000’s with another iconic sandwich chain out of Denver.

Give it a listen at your leisure. It has been broken in to two separate podcast episodes below.

Part 1:

https://soundcloud.com/orderupshow/27-how-i-would-fix-subway-part-1

Part 2:

https://soundcloud.com/orderupshow/28-how-i-would-fix-subway-part-2

Ops Mgt Systems Could be as Transformative as POS Systems to the Restaurant Industry

One of the most transformative changes in the history of the restaurant industry was the invention of the POS System. Replacing the siloed cash register and giving brands real-time access to sales data did more to drive multi-unit operation expansion than any other technology. Prior to wide adoption of POS systems restaurants had only changed by a fraction since the time Jesus ate in restaurants.

The next big transformation in the restaurant industry is going to be operations management systems, like OpsAnalitica, and how the data they generate can be used to run more efficient restaurant operations with less employees.

There has been a ton of buzz around all these other types of apps or management systems: mobile ordering, delivery, inventory, and LMS’ etc.. That is because they have huge marketing and sales budgets. These systems generate efficiencies for their users and can reduce waste and time. That is what we are all battling for, to do more with less.

I don’t think anyone would say that Crunchtime with their inventory management is truly transformative. That mobile ordering is transformative, its just another form of call in ordering. I’m not saying that those technologies don’t deliver value, they do, I’m saying that they aren’t transformative, changing how you operate your entire business and the financials associated.

Ops Mgt Systems, you know them as Digital Checklist systems like OpsAnalitica, can be truly transformative to the restaurant industry. Because they, like POS Systems, provide you with real-time visibility, employee accountability, and the ability to change behavior.

I know that most of you think of these systems as just a way to replace your ineffective paper checklists with a digital version. I will admit that we have been guilty of perpetuating this stereotype as well with our marketing. We flat out compare ourselves to paper and the Red Book. If I’m honest, we shouted from the rooftops for years how OpsAnalitica could transform your businesses and that messaging fell on def ears. The restaurant industry just isn’t there yet but you will be. Data is like a drug, very addictive and once you get a taste you will want more.

All software should be implemented in a crawl, walk, run approach to ensure that it gets used and generates a ROI. If we think about OpsAnalitica in that way, your crawl period is getting off your ineffective paper checklists and getting digital checklists deployed at your restaurants. This is actually surprisingly easy with OpsAnalitica and wow’s most of our customers who are used to ineffective partners and botched roll-outs.

If you never go beyond replacing your paper checklists with digital checklists then you will be happy but in all honesty you won’t see a transformation. The transformation comes from leveraging the technology across your organization, reassessing how you operate, challenging the status quo and norms of your business, then leveraging the technology to drive increased efficiency and change.

At their root, platforms like OpsAnalitica drive behavior and facilitate human data collection. Collecting data from human process and controlling behavior across multiple locations before OpsAnalitica was nearly impossible. In that respect OpsAnalitica structures human process and provides data just like your POS does.

To truly transform the industry, companies need to move beyond just doing the normal checklists that they did on paper and managing the same way they always have but without paper. Push beyond what they know and leverage the technology to run their restaurants differently.

Here are some walk and run ideas:

  • Create a ROC (Restaurant Operations Center) that is managing OpsAnalitica for all restaurants simultaneously following up on critical notifications and late checklists. Having a few dedicated people driving system wide compliance and follow-up in real-time could ensure operations compliance across the chain.
  • Great Area Managers are hard to find. It is such a complex skill set and with patch size and time in restaurant, it is nearly impossible to be effective. Instead of paying a premium to find these Jack of all Trades multi-unit operations professionals. Wouldn’t it be easier to find cheaper specialized field team members that focus on very specific job functions: local store marketing, training, ops mgt, hiring, etc.. Leveraging a platform like OpsAnalitica to provide better visibility and accountability than an area manager ever could.
  • Training and On-boarding: our training and on-boarding systems are antiquated and based on employee memorization. This is the best job market in 50 years and restaurant turnover percentage is at 100%. The average tenure of an employee is around 50 days, you can’t afford to pay people to memorize how to do stuff. You need to get every set-up and breakdown checklist into OpsAnalitica and have your people follow the checklist vs. memorize how to do stuff. The great thing about using the checklists vs. memorization is that procedure changes are much easier because you simply change the checklist. Gone are the days of having to update the ops manual, print all new materials, do a road show and train all employees at an all hands meeting.
  • Manage data collection from the field for all your other needs, from shift logs, maintenance requests, health inspection scores, food recalls, training tests, etc.
  • These are just some of the use cases that could transform your business, the people who are best at figuring these use cases are you. You guys know what you need done, what you are being tasked to do and everyday we are suprised at how our clients are using the platform to make their jobs easier.
  • In 2009, I came up with the idea for this platform because I was the RSC Ops Leader at Quiznos and I had to find a way to report on all of our audits, we couldn’t find a software platform that was going to do what we wanted it to do, so I taught myself how to code and built my own. I built this one so you don’t have to teach yourself how to code, you can just leverage the technology to transform your business.
  • To truly transform your business, you can’t bend the technology to meet your current needs. You need to understand how the technology works, then look for opportunities to expand the software within your organization and use it to change how you operate. This is the number one reason why OpsAnalitica has the potential to be truly transformative, because it is so easily adapted and customized to meet the needs of our clients.

    We are a human data collection and task management platform. An inventory platform is just an inventory platform and online ordering is just online ordering.

    You will always need to collect data from your locations, you will always have some amount of humans working there for the foreseeable future. You need a system that can drive their behavior, collect data, provide visibility, and accountability in real-time.

    I urge you to get off your paper checklists and start using OpsAnalitica. Get comfortable with the software, and then start looking for ways to change how you operate. To not continue to operate like we did in 1980, or 1880 for that matter, but to embrace what real-time visibility can do for your business. If you want to talk about your ideas, then go to OpsAnalitica.com and chat us. I would love to discuss your vision with you and how OpsAnalitica could help you fulfill those dreams.

    Dynamic Checklists: What are they and why you should care

    Dynamic checklists are customized checklists that conform themselves to each location as they are loaded. They are smart checklists that know that each location is slightly different and they only show questions that are relevant to that restaurant.

    In short, you can create one checklist that works for every location in your chain and your store level team is always working a checklist that is perfectly configured for their building, equipment, menu, and configuration. Think Sheet-to-shelf inventory lists for checklists and audits.

    Why should you care? Money!!!!!

    Let’s start at the restaurant level where 99% of your checklists are completed. When you are using generic or non-dynamic checklists you are costing yourself money.

    1. Your checklists take longer to complete because they have more questions then they need for each location and your team is spending time trying to figure out which questions they should answer.
    2. Do you really want an employee determining which checks are important and not important for your business and brand?

    3. Your data is less accurate because you can’t require all of your questions to be answered every time. Some people are able to pencil whip or skip bunches of questions.
    4. You have to do more training initially so that your team knows every nuance of your checklists and their location vs. just having a sheet-to-shelf version that they can just complete without thinking and making unnecessary decisions.

    Basically, when you can’t dynamically customize your checklist to your locations, you pay more money for worse execution and mediocre data.

    Before you dismiss this as just pennies of cost. The average restaurant management team is supposed to be completing about 2 to 2.5 hours of managerial, food safety, and restaurant readiness checklists per day.

    Think about it, you have two line checks that take 45 minutes each to complete, that is 90 minutes right there. Most of our clients have between 5 and 15 shorter checklists that get executed throughout the day. Examples of common checklists that our clients are using: Manager opening and closing, HACCP Logs, Shift Logs, Line Checks, Mid-shifts, Deposit Logs, Station opening and closing, prep lists, cooling logs, oven checks, equipment checks, temperature logs, etc..

    At two hours a day, 363 days a year, that is the equivalent of 18 (40 hour) weeks a year your team is spending doing checklists. Quick math that is about 36% of full time employees year spent doing checklists. Making sure the checklists can be completed quickly, accurately, and that you achieve your business goals of running safe and inviting restaurants is paramount to your business.

    Checklists are the most important administrative activity in your restaurant because they are the driver of food safety, operations consistency, and customer satisfaction.

    Now let’s talk about the wasted money at Corporate because of checklist systems that can’t dynamically create checklists and audits for their locations. We are working with a client and their system administrator was spending 20 hours a week managing their audits and daily checklists on one of our competitors software before coming to OpsAnalitica. This 20 hours was in addition to their other responsibilities.

    They had to have several versions of every checklist in the system. They had to have, in some cases, hundreds of redundant questions to account for deficiencies in our competitors platform. All this added up to a ton of extra time trying to conform their business to their checklist program vs. having checklist software that worked with their business.

    20 hours a week of admin time, that is insane. The worse part was, they didn’t always make the changes they wanted to because the software was hard to administrate. They missed out on opportunities to get better data, to make better operating decisions, because their software wasn’t up to the task.

    Why is OpsAnalitica able to create dynamic checklists when our competitors can’t. First, we were built from day one to be a daily checklist platform when most of our competitors started off as audit platforms. We knew that daily checklists did more to drive behavior change at the restaurant level then audits did and that was learned from years of restaurant management experience from the store to the corporate level. Daily checklists are harder to build and require more nuance than a one size fits all audit solution.

  • The OpsLogic Engine, is our secret sauce. It allows us to create the logic that drives dynamic checklist creation. I’m not going to get into more detail here other than to say that we have the most advanced logic engine in the space today, we are making huge investments to make it more powerful and it going to change how you run your business.
  • One last point about our OpsLogic engine, it goes beyond just yes no questions. We are writing logic that ensures your food safety and quality goals are met. Take cheese sauce as an example: sure it needs to be warmer than 135 but it needs to be less than 165 or it breaks and you have to throw it away. This increases food cost and is equivalent to throwing money in the garbage.

    An Intelligent OpsAnalitica checklist is going to flag that question in real-time and provide the employee with directions, “Cheese sauce too warm, in danger of breaking, reduce temp immediately, take photo to document”. By the way that corrective action is required.

    One of the phrases we use a lot over here at OpsAnalitica is “We take the guesswork out of running the restaurants.” This has never been more true with our Dynamic Checklist creation and OpsLogic engine. To learn more about what we can do to help you run your business and to get a pricing quote, please fill out this form.


    Using Daily Checklists on the OpsAnaltiica Platform as Field Team Force Multiplier

    The traditional field structure in multi-unit restaurant organizations starts at the restaurant level and goes to an Area Mgr or Director, eventually rolling up to a VP of Ops and COO. For bigger organizations, there is obviously going to be more layers of management between the store and top people.

    The person with the hardest job in the management structure is the Area Manager. They have the most direct responsibility; when I worked at Quiznos, our Field Business Leaders had around 50 restaurants each. They were directly responsible for these locations with very little actual control.

    Even on a great day as an area manager, you may only be able to visit a couple of restaurants for an hour or two. Forget it; if your patch is spread out over a large geographic area, you might not visit some of your restaurants more than one time per quarter.

    The area managers role has also expanded over time. Area managers were originally there to provide operations supervision. Assist the store level managers to execute better, conduct some training, make sure that the restaurants were following the corporate standards.

    In a lot of chains, area managers are expected to handle the ops roles from above and to be franchise salespeople, auditors, tech experts, new store openers, etc..

    The Area Manager’s role and patch size have continued to expand over time, and it is becoming harder and harder for them to make a difference at the restaurant level.

    I could write a whole other blog on area managers being used as franchisor salespeople and auditors. Those two roles are in direct contrast to each other, and the incentives are misaligned.

    One last point on area managers, they are expensive. The median salary, bonus, and benefit cost of an area manager in Denver, CO is $146K. Now if they have to travel for work or they get a car, you can add another 25 to 50K to that number.

    Regional Restaurant Manager from Salary.com

    What is one way we can help area managers be more effective?
    We need to give them the management tools that allow them effectively manage their territory.

    Area managers need systems that give them real-time visibility into their store’s operations and financials. The POS systems can provide you with the daily sales numbers from each of your locations.

    The issue has always been in getting real-time restaurant operations data that would allow an area manager to see what is happening in all of their restaurants; this has always been a problem in the past because daily operations checklists and audits are manual and in most restaurants still on paper.

    That is where the OpsAnalitica Platform comes into save the day. When our platform is deployed in all of your restaurants, your area managers will have real-time visibility into what is happening operationally at all of their locations. They will know when things aren’t getting done, they will be alerted to critical violations and will be able to hold their managers accountable right from their mobile device.

    This is a game changer in multi-unit restaurant management because for the first time an area manager can see what is happening at every location right now. They can effectively follow-up with restaurants from anywhere. They can identify and help restaurants mitigate problems before they become forest fires.

    Real-time field management is a completely new way to manage restaurants, it becomes a force multiplier for your field team, and it saves you money. As a matter of fact, it pays for itself in increased restaurant sales and the subsequent franchisee fees from those sales, check out our case study to see how much money using OpsAnalitica can generate in your restaurants for the franchisor and the restaurant operator.

    Let me give you a real-world example to illustrate this fact. When we launched Torpedo Sandwiches at Quiznos, we inspected every location in our chain. For two weeks every field person and about ten corporate employees traveled the country and physically visited and audited every restaurant, over 4000 in total. What do you think that cost us?

    The big things we were looking for:
    – the restaurants were displaying all of the marketing materials
    – the restaurant knew how to make the sandwiches
    – the restaurants were ready for the promotion

    With OpsAnalitica you can deploy a checklist that requires the end user to take photos of their menu boards, photos of the different sandwiches, you can gather readiness data on all of your restaurants. Remotely. You can see which restaurants have done this and haven’t done it before the promotion and then follow-up appropriately.

    Another client of ours runs over 50 short checklists a day and restaurant readiness has gone through the roof.  Their field teams know when each restaurant is doing what they are supposed to through the day and are alerted when a restaurant is falling behind. A quick text message to the store is all that is needed to get the restaurant back on track.  If critical violations are discovered the field team member can investigate right from their phone and determine the best cause of action to take.

    If you couple the OpsAnalitica Platform with a centrally managed checklist program, where corporate provides the mandated checklists and is consistently refining those checklists to address business goals, it becomes a potent operations combination. One of the features that make OpsAnalitica unique is that corporate can create core checklists but still allow restaurants and franchisees to build their own for their locations. Check on this blog on the OpsAnalitica way.

    For area managers to be effective, they need the tools to manage their ever-expanding job responsibilities. OpsAnalitica can provide area managers with real-time ops visibility into their locations allowing them to more effectively manage restaurant operations in their territories.

    Corporate can keep a finger on the pulse of their operations, creating a feedback loop and constant improvement cycle.

    The program pays for itself from restaurants running better operations and will lead to better operations chain wide.

    There is one last key to success to make this kind of force multiplier program work. You need complete system adoption. You can’t leave it up to restaurant managers/franchisees to decide for themselves.

    If you don’t mandate the solution then you will be managing two systems, and it will not be sustainable nor will you reap any benefits. When everyone is on the platform that is when you get the economies of scale.

    To learn more about the OpsAnalitica platform check out OpsAnalitica.com or check out our case study.

    Podcast – Interview with Adam Frager, Restaurateur/Entrepreneur

    In this episode of, OrderUp – The Restaurant Ops Podcast, Erik sits down with Adam Frager a St. Louis restaurateur and entrepreneur.

    Adam is one of the founders/owners of Blood & Sand and Death In The Afternoon, both amazing restaurants here in St. Louis. He is also a founder of Brigade Society POS that was born out of his own frustrations with the available solutions at the time. He brings a great perspective on the industry including craft cocktails and make sure you stick around until the end for the great story about ODB’s (Old Dirty Bastard) last performance ever. It’s very funny!

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

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

    Screenshot 2016-05-10 15.37.32

    Other Interesting facts from the article:

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

    Screenshot 2016-05-10 15.37.52

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

     

    The Only Way to Sustainably Grow Your Restaurant’s Sales is through Better Operations

    Screenshot 2016-04-12 14.52.05

    It’s time to return to basics and focus on what works for long-term sustainable sales growth, which is better operations.  Nobody wants to hear better operations because they are either delusional about the current state of their operations, or they don’t want to put in the hard work and discipline of focusing on running better operations.

    Nothing that you will do, no new system (delivery or take out), no new technology like a better POS or better website, is going to do more for your business than having delicious food, in clean well-managed restaurants, with great customer service.  NOTHING!!!!  If you didn’t want to be an operator and focus on being excellent, then this isn’t the business for you.

    I was the dining room floor manager of a busy restaurant in 2001 we added $80,000 a week to revenue over a ten month period.  That is right 80K a week, not a month, and we didn’t spend an extra dollar in marketing nor did we add any new sales channel.  You know how we did it:

    • Moved the servers from 5 tables to 4 table stations- which all the servers hated at first.
    • We started using checklists to ensure that we were ready in the FOH for each shift, this included pre-shift meetings with the team.
    • We actively managed the dining room each shift focusing on service and turning tables.

    You see we had latent demand that before we focused on operations we weren’t getting because our service was slow and quite frankly not that good.  When we made the sections smaller, brought in more servers, invested in training those servers on the menu, customer service, upselling, etc.  They had more time to do a better job servicing guests.  When we focused each shift on making sure that the restaurant and the team were ready, it was easier to wow guests.  I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know; better operations, focusing on the little things, and providing an excellent experience is your best marketing initiative and the quickest way to grow sales.

    Here is some information that provides more evidence to the better operations theory:

    • A 1-star increase on Yelp leads to 5 to 9% revenue increase.  Entrepreneur.com
    • One negative review on Yelp can cost you, 30 customers.  Entrepreneur.com
    • An A grade in your window, for those restaurants that have to contend with health inspection letter grades, can lead to a 5.7% bump in sales.  (Based on California Sales Tax Data for LA County)
    • Only 16% of Yelp reviews are fraudulent so don’t assume that every bad review you have is just a competitor out to get you – respond quickly and appropriately.  Entrepreneur.com
    • According to a recent study by AlixPartners, a global business consulting firm, “28 percent of diners surveyed say they would never eat at a chain affected by a food-safety outbreak, regardless of the geographic location of the outbreak.”  Tennessean
    • Olive Garden same-store sales are up 6.8%. This is what their CEO had to say:

    “We’re just running better restaurants today,” Lee said during the company’s earnings call Tuesday. “I don’t think we should discount the importance of ensuring we’re properly staffed, our teams are properly motivated, simplifying the operation, reducing the size of the menu, processes and procedures.  NRN

    “One of the things we’re focused on now is trying to keep things simple,” Lee said. “Simple is hard. Doing simple things every day is really hard. That’s what’s given us the biggest lift at Olive Garden. We’re not relying on promotional activity to drive business.”  NRN

    Look at your experience in restaurants. The restaurants that serve delicious food with great service that are clean and well managed on average are much busier than their competitors who fall down in any of those areas.

    There are so many outside factors affecting your restaurants every day, from minimum wages, weather, street construction, commodity prices, competition, shifting dining trends, government regulations, cook shortages, and social media to name few.  It can feel overwhelming.  How do you manage all of those outside factors and run your restaurant?  The answer is to control what you can control and react as best you can to outside forces.

    If you know that you aren’t doing all that you could be doing in your business to run better operations, make a plan and start focusing 100% on your most critical issues and check them off the list one at a time.  

    The quickest and most effective way to run better operations is also one of the easiest systems to implement:  checklists with follow-up.  Checklists focus your managers on those most important items each shift that have to be done to operate at your best.  They are self-documenting and easy to use.  By executing checklists every day in the same order, they build a routine and drive consistency shift to shift.  Checklists work, we asked 107 restaurant managers and owners recently if they thought that managing by checklist would help them run safer and better operating restaurants, and 107 of them said yes.

    Most restaurants today have checklists in place, but they are conducted on paper, paper checklists make it impossible to hold your team accountable.  We recently conducted a survey and 94% of restaurant owners, and managers believed that their teams weren’t completing their checklists accurately.  94% of paper checklists are being pencil whipped and therefore the restaurant isn’t getting any of the benefits of safer and better operations because people aren’t conducting the checklist.

    The key to getting the benefits of your checklists is to use a system like OpsAnalitica that can hold your managers accountable and make pencil whipping a thing of the past.  By simply moving your checklists to a tablet we can track start and end times, duration, and make the data available on any device from anywhere.  You will always know if your team is doing what they are supposed to be doing.

    Better operations can increase your sales anywhere from 5 to 9%.  Checklists can play a major part in running better operations on a shift basis.  It is consistent daily execution that will yield the highest returns and generate those positive reviews and word of mouth recommendations that will grow sales organically and in a sustainable manner.

    I invite you to check out OpsAnalitica by clicking here.  To see a list of the checklists that every restaurant should be doing, I invite you to check out this other blog post.

    The Value of Operations Data at Your Fingertips

    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. 
    Your restaurant’s operations: the food, service, speed, perceived value, cleanliness, and safety standards all determine how your guests will feel when they walk out of your establishment. 

    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.

    Maybe You Shouldn’t Do Checklists

    How could paper checklists be bad?  Paper checklists are bad because people pencil whip them or lie on them.  We recently conducted a survey of over 100 restaurant owners and managers.  94% of respondents believed that their teams weren’t completing their checklists accurately.

    Which raises the question; why would a sane person have their team complete checklists that they know are being lied on?

    A sane person wouldn’t, because they know that it is a waste of time and money.  It costs money to develop checklists.  It costs money to print checklists.  It costs money to complete checklists.  It costs money to file and store checklists and when it is time to get rid of them it costs money to shred and recycle checklists.

    Yet as an industry we do spend money to have people complete checklists on paper even though we know they are being pencil whipped. Why do we do that?

    The limitations of paper checklists aside, the fact that we still have people pencil whipping checklists in our businesses is because even a 30% accurate checklist is better than no checklist.

    Let’s stick with the thought that even a partially completed checklist is better than no checklist.  A person who completes a line check 30% accurately is still checking 30% more items than a person who skips their line check.  They have a better chance of catching an error in preparation or finding an unsafe item and correcting it before it get’s someone sick.

    Imagine a world where restaurants employees completed all of their checklists accurately and when they didn’t you were at least able to catch that they didn’t and coach them about the importance of doing them correctly.  How much better would your restaurant run?

    If every shift your team checked everything that was important enough to make it on a checklist.  They checked every temp, tasted items, checked sanitation and portion controls.  The restaurant when opened was clean and ready for guests.

    Do you think that running better operations would translate into more sales, safer restaurants, happier guests, and most importantly more profits?

    Of course running better ops would accomplish all of that.  If running better operations couldn’t do that then we wouldn’t spend a penny on training or any operational initiative, we would only spend money on marketing because the only way to get sales would be to con people to come to your restaurant one time.

    By the way, this is what the restaurant managers and owners told us on our survey.  100% of them agreed that checklists could help them run better and safer operations.  That is right 100%.

    Because checklists when completed diligently and followed-up on work.

    The problem with paper checklists is that you can’t tell when they were started, when they ended, who did them, and if they were pencil whipped.  Basically paper cannot help you hold people accountable.  Also, this is for multi-unit owners who cannot be in every location every day, you can’t magically see paper hanging on a wall in a restaurant from your office.

    What our industry needs is a checklist solution that is as easy to complete as paper checklists but allows us to hold our managers accountable and get visibility into our daily operations.

    This solution would need to do the following things to be effective:

    • Needs to hold managers accountable by tracking time, location, response cadence, and  actual geo location.
    • Needs to be able to identify unsafe operating conditions and communicate that to management.
    • Needs to as easy as paper to use, with minimal training time.
    • Needs to be as flexible as paper being able to capture different types of information, not just True and False questions.
    • Needs to be better than paper allow you to utilize mobile technology to take pictures and leave additional comments.
    • Most importantly you need to be able to get at the data you are collecting and start using it to make better operations decisions.

    A solution that could replace paper checklists and hold people accountable at the store level up through the corporate level of a system could drive better, safer, and more profitable restaurants.

    A restaurant company that could deploy a solution like this and start holding their unit managers more accountable and harness this new feed of operations data could optimize their operations and beat their competition by running more efficiently and making better decisions.

    Think about the data that corporate restaurant management has access to today.  They have register, inventory/ordering, and customer service data and they use that data to make the best decisions that they can.  If you used a checklist solution to capture pertinent operations data at the store level, which would drive better operations.  You could also use the date with your other data feeds such as sales, inventory, and customer service to create a complete picture of how your restaurants were operating. Remember that operations affect sales, inventory, food costs, and customer service, its not he other away around.

    It would be a major competitive advantage for any restaurant system that took advantage of operations data.  Look at how companies like Walmart, FedEx, Nordstrom, and Google use data to streamline operations and generate increased profits.  Restaurant chains could do the same thing if they had the data, which they have, but just need to get it into an accessible, usable format.

    How do you do this in your chain?  You should implement the OpsAnalitica Inspector platform in your system for daily operations checklists and corporate inspections.  The OpsAnalitica Inspector will hold your managers and teams more accountable at the restaurant level and our custom reporting and data warehouse will provide you with the data that you need to optimize your business.

    The future of the restaurant industry is possible today for those chains that are bold enough to take the first step forward.  If you are interested in learning more please click here and set up a call with our team.

    The Restaurant Industry’s Dirty Little Secret

    Busy Kitchen

    The dirty little secret in the restaurant industry is that we know a lot of our restaurant safety-documentation is not completed accurately.

    Every day in restaurants across the country, restaurant managers are supposed to complete temperature logs, line checks, and other safety checks to ensure that they are operating safely. A lot of those logs are pencil-whipped, or to state it more bluntly they are lied on.

    The reasons for the lies are numerous:  ran out of time, who cares no one ever looks at them, I know we are safe, we’ve never gotten anyone sick, etc.. This behavior is so commonplace in the industry’s culture that it is almost a joke.

    I was recently in a meeting with some restaurant executives, and we were discussing their line checks, their checks included food temps and sanitation items. The company’s policy was restaurant managers would complete two line checks a day, one before each meal period.  Area managers would review the line checks once a quarter when they performed their site inspections. I asked these executives, are these checks getting done twice a day? When your area manager is going through their site inspection are they seeing 180 of these a quarter?  Everyone in the room chuckled, “yes, they all get done accurately every shift”  was the ha ha response.

    Daily checklists not being completed or being completed inaccurately seems to be a common issue no matter how large or small the restaurant system is.  We recently talked with a chef of a restaurant who was working there six days a week, and she didn’t feel like she knew if the checks were getting done accurately and she was only managing that location.  That speaks to how hard it is to manage in restaurants, you can’t be everywhere all the time.  We spoke with a multi-unit franchisee who stated that he has walked into his restaurants and looked at the temp logs on the wall and knew they had been pencil whipped.

    We recently conducted a survey of over 100 restaurant managers and owners from around the world. Here are the results:

    • 100% of respondents believed that conducting checklists could help them run safer and more profitable restaurants
    • 42% of respondents conducted daily line checks
    • 45% of respondents conducted daily temp logs
    • 88% conducted checklists on paper

    This final stat is the kicker:

    • 94% of respondents believed that their checklists were not being filled out accurately.

    Here is the light at the end of the tunnel.  We just did a deep dive with one of our clients who has used the OpsAnalitica platform for 20 months. They were able to cut critical food safety violations by 55% when they did their daily checklists.  How; because they saw stuff that was wrong every shift and they fixed it. When you actually do your checklists, they do work and you run safer and better operations.

    The reason pencil whipping is so rampant in the industry is because 99% of the time it doesn’t matter.  It is a hard truth to hear, but it is true.  If it mattered, then we as an industry would have corrected this issue by now.

    To fully understand pencil whipping we have to break down the safety checklist into it’s two parts:  checking to ensure items are safe and documenting the items safety status.

    When you pencil whip a checklist or log you are committing two sets of lies:

    1. You are stating that you checked the safety of the items on the checklist.
    2. You are falsifying a safety document.

    The reason that you are being asked to check the safety of these items is because they have been identified as high-risk factors that could contribute to getting someone sick or even potentially killing them.  If you check the item and catch a problem, then you have an opportunity to fix that problem before it affects your guests.  That is why we do the checks.

    When you don’t check the safety of high-risk items or of your sanitation procedures, you are rolling the dice with other people’s lives and it is no different than driving a car drunk or shooting a gun into a crowd.  It can have the same exact consequences.  I know that sounds dramatic but ask the families of those people who died from eating a Blue Bell ice cream last summer.

    The second offense is just dumb; you should never put your name or complete any official document with knowingly false information on it.  This goes back to that early statement that 99% of the time this won’t come back to haunt you until the day it does, and then you will regret that decision.

    If your restaurant get’s someone sick, look at Chipotle they just had their safety documentation from every unit subpoenaed, are you going to want to stand by all of the false documents.  The lawyers and investigators are going to use that documentation to show your wanton disregard for your safety procedures.  If you are a manager or an owner, take this one step further; do you think your employees would lie for you on the stand in that scenario?  My guess is that when asked they are going to tell the truth.

    Here is something that most restaurant owners don’t know about, most restaurant liability and food borne illness insurance policies have writers in them that release the insurance company from responsibility if the restaurant is acting unsafely.  Here are some actual writers that we pulled from a policy:

    • 3.13  Any Food Borne Illness that occurs after the Insured has knowledge of a defect or deviation in the production, preparation or manufacture of the Insured Product(s), or circumstance(s) which have or are likely to result in such deviation or defect, and fails to take corrective action.
    • 3.19  Any dishonest, willful, wanton, fraudulent, criminal or malicious act, error of omission by the Insured(s).  This is your Pencil Whipping Clause!!!!
    • 3.21  Any Food Borne Illness that occurs where the Insured is or ought to be aware that the Insured is in violation of the corporate mandated food handling or food procurement procedures and has not taken action to rectify the violation.

    We have all heard about insurance companies doing whatever it takes not to pay out claims are you willing to risk that consequence on pencil whippers.

    What do you do?  

    I hope that we all have come to the conclusion that completing checklists accurately makes sense because we are acting responsibly as operators and we are looking out for the best interests of our customers and brands.  If you are going to incur the costs of creating and mandating that checklists get completed, then you have to hold manager’s accountable for getting them completed on-time and accurately.  That means that every shift that safety and quality checklists are completed before we start serving guests and that the managers take the time to check each item and record the items safety status on the checklist.  That is the only way that you can generate an ROI from your checklists and ensure safe operations.

    There are a ton of ways to do this.  If you are going to stick with paper checklists, then you can have the person time date stamp when they started and ended each checklist.  If you are a multi-unit operator, you can have your restaurant manager’s fax in their checklists to corporate each day or scan and email them.  The reason most people don’t do this is because it is a giant waste of time and it pushes the burden of managing all of this paper to different people in the business.

    With today’s technology, the easiest way to manage your checklists is to use a checklist system app.  These are the features you should be looking for in a checklist app:

    • Works on different devices: phones and tablets
    • Works on different operating systems, technology moves to fast and you don’t want to be stuck on an obsolete platform
    • Doesn’t require wifi to complete a checklist – wifi isn’t always great in kitchens and can stop you from inspecting outside
    • Supports different question types – not just True False – you need to be able to capture different types of answers and report off of them
    • The system should be able to reference additional help and training documentation so inspectors can understand the why behind the question and the answer scale
    • Is quick – the quicker it is to complete a checklist the greater the chance it will be completed every shift accurately
    • Make sure you can build custom reports so you can get the data you are collecting in a format that works for your organization
    • The system should hold managers responsible and track what is happening when they complete an inspection
    • Should be easy to use and train on so that checklists are completed consistently across the organization even as you experience turnover
    • Should be easy to administrate or even better the provider should offer a full-service plan so that you can get up and running quickly and stay up and running over time – remember employee turnover

    Pencil whipping has been happening in our industry for years, but it needs to come to a stop.  There is a benefit to completing these safety and operational checklists every shift.  Not only at the restaurant level to ensure that you are safe and ready for service but also at the corporate level where operations data can be collected and used to assist the restaurants.  Keeping people safe is a moral and brand imperative and the best way to do that is through solid operations that are driven by checklists.

    If you aren’t using daily checklists to manage your operations, or you are using paper, there is a better way.  I invite you to click here to learn more about the OpsAnalitica Platform.  We can help you digitize your checklists and get you up and running doing your checklists a better way today.  We have a managed service offering that takes all of the burdens of setting up and managing your checklist program off of your shoulders and puts it on ours, we can have you up and running in as little as a day.  If you are a DIY type of person we have a plan that fits your needs.  The first step is jumping on a quick call and learning more about how we can help you.  Click on the learn more button at the top right of your screen.