Author: Poornima Mohandas
Time to read: 2 minutes
Recently, we were at the headquarters of a QSR or quick-service restaurant chain to discuss their operational processes and how we could help them drive efficiencies. After some discussions, the COO explained, “We have 12 different applications and all our restaurant operations be it SOPs, checklists, and audits are all digital.” Having lost the wind from our sails, the meeting quickly concluded. Nevertheless, we sought permission to visit one of their restaurants.
The next day, we walked into one of their restaurants, not too far from our office. What we saw was pretty shocking, yet typical. The SOP was a bunch of posters and checklists stuck on the kitchen wall! The restaurant staff were busy with customers and delivery boys, paying little attention to the writing on the wall. This could very well be your situation.
The price you pay:
- Poor visibility of SOP or Standard Operating Procedure adherence
- Inconsistent customer experiences
Here are some ways to improve the SOP process across your QSR chain:
Educate Your Staff on Your Standard Operating Procedure
Very often we see that QSRs don’t spend enough time to educate their restaurant staff on the importance of the SOP. This document incorporates every aspect that needs to be monitored to keep your restaurant customer ready.
It covers everything, right from:
- Is the restaurant’s glass front door smudge free
- How should a customer be greeted
- How many slices of banana should be served along with a pancake.
Tell your staff the story behind it. How was it conceived? Why it matters?
Train and certify your staff on the SOP using an operations app that is secure and exclusive to your organization. Let your staff absorb it, ask questions, clarify doubts, and have discussions on it.
Make It Easy to Adopt
Digitalize the SOP. Roll out daily checklists and set cut off times so your staff fill it out on time everyday. Have them attach photographs of the open restaurant with a date and time stamp. This way, you can ensure your staff have actually opened the restaurant at the stipulated 10:30 am and are not taking you for a ride. Easily see how many stores fill up the daily opening checklist on time. Automatic reminders will follow up with stores that are late and ensure compliance.
Enforce Adherence to the SOP
When the SOP is a paper-based, daily opening and closing checklist there is poor adherence and little tracking. How do you sit in head office and know what is happening in the stores? You don’t. If the SOP is digitalized, real-time reporting can give you a comprehensive and comparative view of adherence. When restaurants don’t open on time or have dirty floors repeatedly, escalate it to the regional manager who can visit the store and get to the bottom of the problem. As the tracking of operational processes becomes more rigorous, you can improve the number of stores that complete it and reduce the number of compliance issues that come up.
Act on Your SOP Data to Drive Cost Savings
SOP needn’t be a passive monitoring exercise. You can actually uncover actionable data and powerful insights.
Let’s take the example of a restaurant. As per the standard guidelines, the restaurant staff is supposed to switch on the air conditioner at 9:30 am so that the restaurant is cool and ready for customers by 10 am when it opens. With historical SOP compliance data at your fingertips, you notice that in more than half of your restaurants, the staff switches on the air conditioner half an hour early at 9 am everyday. You can instruct your staff to stick to the standard 9:30 am and save on electricity bills. Do this for a month across your restaurant chain and you can see the savings quickly add up.
In summary, educate your staff on why the Standard Operating Procedure matters, make it easy to adopt, monitor adherence through robust real-time reporting, and uncover actionable data to drive cost savings. The SOP is your holy grail. It is what keeps your restaurants customer ready. Don’t let it be just a poster on the wall.