One thing I've learned over the course of my career is that most businesses don't typically like change.
Change can create discomfort by forcing people to learn new habits, processes and protocol. Change can cause 'business as usual' to be disrupted -- at least for a short time until the change truly takes hold.
The root of most change lies in the need to advance or improve. All businesses (and industries for that matter) want to become better, faster and more effective in making money.
Restaurants are no different from any other business in that improvement comes from either lowering costs or boosting revenue. To accomplish either, establishing and maintaining habits of good communication that are shared by a greater team is the most critical component.
Operations: Where communications matter most
When I was working with Bob Evans, executing at the operations level was drilled into my head. Achieving consistent excellence in each of the more than 500 locations throughout the Midwest was so important to the business that it became one of the mission statements that supported the entire brand.
I never actually worked in the front or back of the house, but always found myself amazed at the complexities behind serving hundreds of guests each day, in multiple locations with staff that rotated shifts and day parts. If the idea of organized chaos truly does exist, I'm certain that it has its root in the food service industry.
Restaurant managers and operators are responsible for a variety of tasks that happen before, during and after each shift in their locations. Theworkload can suddenly become almost too much to manage, especially during busy times of the year or at aggressive day parts.
One of the manager’s core responsibilities is to maintain clear and efficient communication. This entails three main duties on each shift:
Observe what's happening
Address and correct any mishaps and
Record the entire process to create visibility for the next manager and shift
Miscommunications or dropped balls between shifts can lead to poor levels of service, unhappy customers and potentially thousands of dollars in unanticipated costs that impact the bottom line.
Today, a good majority of restaurant managers including those from national chains to local favorites alike, still lean on pen and paper as a key communicationvehicle between managers and restaurant staff. Paper shift log books have been the industry standard for years, but can leave a wide margin for error when it comes to making sure that information is transferred from one shift to the next in the most accurate and efficient manner.
Why ShiftNote could explode in 2013
I first learned about ShiftNote from my friend and associate Audrey Walker.Audrey, a designer and developer who has been involved with start-up companies for the last few years, made the jump to the company to help them figure out how to bring this new app into market.
I can see why she was attracted to the company too – ShiftNote is perfectly poised to make a big splash as one of the emerging sector of digital tools for restaurants.
The company recently released this new video that shares a ton of details on what it can do. Take a few minutes and give it a look:
Embracing digital disruption
We're now well into 2013. With technology accelerating like is has been in recent years,embracing disruption is no longer an option for restaurant operators -- it's a necessity.
ShiftNote represents a strong concept in the growing trend toward using apps to speed up and improve older, but necessary processes in communication. Considering that all said and done, 2012 was a banner year for advances in mobile devices and internet access, and it makes sense that applications like this are being developed to keep pace with device adoption and replace the traditional paper log books.
It's worth your time to start looking at disruptive technology and ShiftNote seems to be a good place to start your education on the tools that are out there that can help boost profits and trim fat from the bottom line.
Right now, operators can license the app for a single location at $34.95 per month. Volume pricing is also available for chains and there is no set up fee or lump sum to get started.
The application is already being used by brands that include Red Robin, Smokey Bones, California Pizza Kitchen and even Hilton Hotels.
Are you adjusting to disruption?
Are their other processes or procedures in your restaurant that are being disrupted by digital technology, apps and other web-based platforms? What are they and how are you adjusting?
Nate Riggs advises mid-sized and enterprise companies in the multiunit retail, food service and CPG industries on how to use the Web strategically to win and keep the attention of their customers and increase profitability. He leads social media strategy as the director of social business at The Karcher Group, a digital agency that acquired his consulting firm (Social Business Strategies, LLC) in January of 2012.