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.

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