Every Business Has Issues

There is one common denominator between all multi-location operators. Every restaurant company has identified an issue that is bugging them, that is costing them customer satisfaction, sales, profits, or all three. Every successful restaurant company is always focusing resources to address these issues as they identify them. 

One of the most interesting things that I’ve found working at OpsAnalitica is how different those issues are.  I just didn’t expect that, you think they are all restaurants, they all do basically the same thing, they are going to all have the same basic issues. 

That thinking is just a gross oversimplification of large organizations. These issues that businesses are trying to address are based on culture, training, operations control, menu, ingredients, hierarchy structure, franchisee sophistication, etc..

For a long time we treated our platform as a fix for specific operational issues and then one day, our largest client set us straight, they realized that the most important thing our platform does is it helps identify ANY operational issue. If it is being tracked in our system and it is an issue in your operations you will be able identify it quickly and efficiently. 

We are the tool that our customers use to identify and fix recurring operations issues. 

How do our clients use our platform to identify issues and I think more importantly fix those issues once identified. 

First off, you have to be tracking the issue.  That is easy when the issue is being identified by an audit or daily checklist. Not all operational issues start off that well defined.  What a lot of our clients are doing when they have a vague issue is they are adding questions in their checklists and audits trying to identify what the issue is.  Or, even better, they are crowdsourcing information from their field teams and restaurant employees.  

It is so easy to post a question in a checklist to the field and let them tell you what is really happening.  Ex: Hey we are seeing in our customer service data that when people order this dish, they are not happy. What can you tell us about this issue and why our customers are so upset about it?  

The first question is to get a handle on what the issue might be. Then they use that initial information to then craft follow-up questions that are more actionable and tied to operations, training, recipes, execution, etc.. 

It’s actually in the second round of questions that you identify the real problem and collect enough data to start to figure out a solution.  I want to make a crucially important point here. Do not be afraid to get the solution from the field, especially, the restaurant employees.  They often know better than you what is happening and how to fix it.  

If their solutions make sense and you use them. Make sure to give them the credit they deserve. This makes the employees feel good but it does so much more, it builds credibility in the feedback system you have created.  That the daily processes that you are holding them accountable to following and the data that is being collected are influencing operations decisions. Most importantly the employees experience and knowledge is valuable to the company and how it runs the business.  

Creating this type of culture  will do more to power your business forward and to give you a competitive advantages than anything else you could do. An organization that can self identify problems, crowd source a solution, and implement a change in process quickly will take better care of its customers than it’s competitors who don’t have that process in place  

I’ve covered at a 30,000 foot level how you can use our platform, or platforms like ours, to identify issues.  Specifically, our checklist reporting is the part of the platform that you can use to identify these issues and see when they are happening and what the employees are telling you about the issue.

How do you change a process to fix an issue? Once you have identified the issue and put together a plan to solve it. You use the OpsAnalitica Platform, specifically updating your checklists with the new procedure to change the employee behavior and to fix the issue.  

It is literally that easy, you change a process in the platform and have that change cascade to all of your locations simultaneously in hours vs. weeks.  You will be able to do this without having to retrain everyone and spend 10 months rolling out the fix. 

Sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t.  At the beginning of the COVID lockdowns back in March, one of our biggest clients, rolled out a COVID-19 Employee screen to their entire organization in an afternoon.  They didn’t have to test it, create a ton of training materials around it, do a road show and 50 zoom calls. They simply added the employee screen to the daily schedule and voila it started getting done.

I know a lot of you are skeptical about this but let me explain how they were able to accomplish this so easily.  It’s because they manage their processes through a system, the OpsAnalitica Platform. So instead of having to train specifically on each process, line check, walk-arounds, LTO’s, labor law issues, COVID Health Checks, etc.. 

They simply put all of those processes into the platform. The platform is consistent so once people are trained on how to follow a scheduled process one time, they understand how to execute all the processes in the platform, they just know how it works. It doesn’t matter that the processes in the platform are different because the platform is the same.  

To use a different example, everyone here is familiar with Microsoft Word or an equivalent program. The content of the documents can all be different but when you open up Word you know how to edit them, print them, add pictures and save the documents.  

It really is that easy, you change the process and that changes the employee behavior. Because the processes are self documenting and we have great reporting you can observe if your changes are having the appropriate effect on correcting the issue. 

Everything that I wrote about today is iterative:

  • You identify an issue
  • You collect additional data
  • You create a solution
  • You track to see if the issue has been corrected.
  • At any given point in the process, you may learn something new and that might change your solution or force you to ask better questions, more questions, etc. 

That is the point, we are never really done getting better, we are never done identifying new issues, of having our focus pulled in a different direction. The most important takeaway from this blog post is this: we all have something that is bugging us, that is costing us customer satisfaction, sales, profits, or all three.  We are never going to be done working on our business because there is always something new.  

Now for those of you who aren’t systems people that is a thoroughly depressing thought. For those of you who are systems people, who have invested in a Operations Management Platform, such as OpsAnalitica, then knowing that there is always going to be an issue is actually kind of fun, in a perverse way. 

It’s fun because squashing issues like bugs across all of your locations is super satisfying and makes you feel powerful and effective. To do this effectively, you need the system, you need to create the feedback loop, and you need to enjoy coming up with creative solutions.  

If you want to learn more about how OpsAnalitica could revolutionize your business, go to https://scheduledemo.opsanalitica.com/ 

Tommy Yionoulis

I've been in the restaurant industry for most of my adult life. I have a BSBA from University of Denver Hotel Restaurant school and an MBA from the same. When I wasn't working in restaurants I was either doing stand-up comedy, for 10 years, or large enterprise software consulting. I'm currently the Managing Director of OpsAnalitica and our Inspector platform was originally conceived when I worked for one of the largest sandwich franchisors in the country. You can reach out to me through LinkedIn.

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