7 Steps to Ensure Restaurant Franchise Operational Excellence

April 26, 2018

Achieving operational excellence is the path to success for any restaurant franchise. But the more the business expands, the more difficult it becomes to maintain everything across all locations. Disparate systems, paper-based inspections, giant spreadsheets. None of these are conducive to getting the most from your business. Only when data is captured and shared from all systems and processes can you truly expect to build a well-oiled machine.

If you aren’t considering mobile software to help you get there, you should read this white paper and see why it’s a good idea. If you are considering mobile software (and you’ve already read the white paper), you know that using mobile software and data analytics can lead to operational excellence and continuous improvement.

But operational excellence doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes a regular cadence of data collection form inspections, audits, and walkthroughs to thrive. You need to be continuously improving at all levels, which can be difficult when you’re responsible for managing everything from safety, quality, and compliance to brand management, customer experience, and employee training/feedback.

1. Establish a baseline measurement of employee/process performance

Operational excellence isn’t something you achieve overnight, which is why you can’t expect to immediately understand what your locations are capable of doing overnight. It’s going to take some time to establish a baseline with mobile software, and it’s going to be next to impossible if you’re chasing numbers from various different systems, spreadsheets, and paper-based forms.
2. Streamline data collection and see all your data on one platform

If you’ve read the white paper, you already know that operational excellence takes a regular cadence of confirmation and calibration. You also know that you need to be continuously improving at all levels, which can be difficult to pull off when you’re responsible everything from safety, quality, and compliance to brand management, customer experience, and employee training/feedback.

For example, let’s say you perform brand and guest experience evaluations with a mobile application created for your industry. But you’re still using a spreadsheet to collect quality control data and a paper/clipboard approach for safety evaluations. Meanwhile, all your sales, order management, and eCommerce numbers are secluded on a separate point of sale (POS) system. What’s the point in collecting all this data if none of it interacts?

With flexible software and cutting-edge services, you can make all this data work together. And when you see all your data in the same place, it simplifies the process of making data-driven decisions. Even better, you can streamline inspections and audits, so operational leads can focus their time on training and strategizing for growth at each location. It’s possible to do, but you’ve got to make sure you have the right technology.
3. Leverage data analytics to make more informed decisions

A data analytics program can show you the patterns and facts that emerge from the information you collect, and help you use these facts to draw conclusions. With the right system in place, you can get a closer look at the data, and brainstorm ideas for advancement before even setting foot in the store. You can even compare data captured from one particular location to locations all over the world to make some sense out of downward trends and identify opportunities for improvement or preventative actions.

4. Improve communication to keep everyone on the same page

Communication is critical to the success of any business. But spreading a consistent message can be tough, especially when you’re constantly opening new locations all over the world. The fact is, the more you grow, the more likely it is than an important message will be misunderstood or missed altogether.

Poor communication can be especially damaging when a brand invests big money in rolling-out a Limited Time Offer (LTO) with complicated instructions and promotional materials. With hundreds or thousands of locations are involved, any minor miscommunication can have a potentially major impact. If a company isn’t regularly auditing all in cases like these, management may not realize that things are going wrong until it’s too late.

Miscommunication at this level not only hurts the bottom line, but it also has a significant impact on the way companies measure the success of their promotions. In fact, we’ve heard horror stories from clients about promotions that failed at half of their locations because they didn’t receive (and didn’t realize they needed) a key element of an LTO.

Maintaining open communication through mobile technology will help you make sure that every employee at every franchise is always up-to-date and on the same page with HQ. Even better, by enabling, encouraging, and providing a consistent channel for discussion, franchisees can help their OPEX initiative simply by communicating openly to spark new ideas, suggestions, and techniques that lead to global improvements.

5. Improve processes with data-driven trend analysis and decisions

Companies that focus on process improvement consistently analyze, improve, and refine their existing procedures – regardless of size and scale. After all, process improvement isn’t just about making big, sweeping changes; it’s also about making several small, but necessary ones as well.

To fully optimize processes and maximize efficiencies, you must have ongoing access to all your data in the same place. Ideally, you’ll also have the ability to implement automated processes and use the lessons-learned from finding and fixing local problems to make strategic decisions that drive continuous improvement globally.

By using trends spotted in data analysis to influence the decision-making process, companies with distributed operations can increase the likelihood that each outlet delivers quality products, impeccable service, and a consistently premium customer experience.

While this sounds good in theory, executing is easier said than done. After all, anyone can poke holes in processes and point out operational problems. Discovering and understanding exactly why the problems are happening and finding a data-driven way to apply solutions that help all locations improve – that’s the true way to drive of operational excellence.

6. Gain strategic alignment on your goal to build a continuous improvement engine

We’ve already discussed the importance of continuous improvement at length. But if there’s one last thing you should remember, it’s that the true key to driving real change is to get system-wide buy-in and acceptance of your initiatives. To get there, you’ll need to gather input from all levels and work collaboratively with the franchisees to implement the changes.

7. Develop a success methodology to ensure all cogs are spinning

By now you know the positive effect that operational excellence can have on your organization. But many franchises and chains are still dealing with some confusion around how to measure the success of their operational excellence programs.

How can you ensure that an OPEX program is worth the time and effort it takes to get everyone on board, not to mention the time and effort it takes to implement it? The good news is, operational excellence programs are measurable. But when setting your benchmarks, remember to consider internal and external factors to measure against. For example:

External Benchmark: Are you meeting or exceeding the growth rate of your competitors. Can you keep it up long enough to gain a competitive advantage?

Internal Benchmark: How much value has been captured from driving operational improvements?
There are countless data points that you can measure against when evaluating your OPEX program. If you're not sure how to create goals to effectively measure your organization's success, or even how to start your organization on the path toward operational excellence, Form.com can help.

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