Besides serving great food at affordable prices, operational excellence is the path to success for any restaurant organization. At Form.com, we define OPEX, or operational excellence, as the continuous and reliable execution of your business strategy. It might sound simple, but it can be complex in practice—especially if you’re dealing with multiple restaurant franchise locations.
The more your business expands, the more difficult it becomes to understand and act on changing conditions at multiple locations. The larger your business, the more you are forced to manually connect disparate systems, unite paper-based inspections, and decrypt giant spreadsheets.
Instead of wrangling together data silos and paper-based processes, start building a well-oiled OPEX machine. It takes a regular cadence of observational data from inspections, audits, and walkthroughs to achieve operational excellence. You need to continuously improve at all levels, which can be difficult when you’re managing everything from safety and quality to compliance and brand management.
That’s why it’s important to start at the beginning: forming benchmarks and setting reasonable goals. We’ve gathered seven steps below to help you start building your own OPEX machine:
1. Establish a baseline for employee and 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.
After you benchmark performance, make sure you’re using SMART goals for each location’s KPIs (key performance indicators). When you you set a new goal, make sure that it’s Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Instead of a goal like “Increase customer satisfaction,” try “Increase this specific location’s customer satisfaction survey score by 10% by the end of the year.”
2. Integrate observational data collection on one platform
Imagine that you evaluate brand and guest experiences with a mobile application designed for your industry. But, you’re still using a spreadsheet to collect quality control data and paper forms for safety evaluations. Meanwhile, all your sales, order management, and supplier audits are isolated on a separate systems. What’s the point in collecting all this data if none of it interacts?
With a flexible enterprise data solution, you can make all this information work together in a single system. The ability to compare, analyze, and understand data from multiple locations in one place simplifies the process of making data-driven decisions. Instead of micromanaging day-to-day tasks, operational leads can focus on training and planning growth.
3. Leverage data analytics to make more informed decisions
Data analytics will show you the patterns and insights that emerge from the information you collect, and they 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 uncover the cause behind downward trends to make improvements or take preventative actions. With Form.com’s custom reports and dashboards, you can create flexible cross-sections of your data that break the numbers down into bite-sized chunks. You can easily share these with your contacts and include charts, graphs, and data visualizations to highlight key areas of interest.
4. Improve communication to keep everyone on the same page
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. When hundreds of locations are involved, any miscommunication can have a major impact. If a company isn’t regularly auditing, management may not realize the issue until it’s too late.
Maintaining clear communication ensures your franchisees are always up-to-date with the latest initiatives from HQ. With cloud-based mobile forms, you can keep everyone on the same page automatically. For example, when brand standards or safety regulations change, you won’t need to worry about sending out a memo or addendum. Each franchisee’s version of your form will update to the newest version with the touch of a button.
5. Drive decision-making with data and trend analysis
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 high-quality food, great customer service, and a consistent brand experience.
6. Align employees and processes with the OPEX program
If there’s one thing you should remember about making an OPEX machine work, it’s that driving real change requires a company-wide buy-in. You’ll need to gather input from all levels and work collaboratively with the franchisees to implement the changes. Don’t simply let new initiatives “trickle down” to directors, managers, and frontline workers. Everyone can play a role in making your company better.
Honing your operational excellence machine is both an active and iterative process. Gather feedback and confront any issues with an open mind. There may be methods that work for some companies that simply won’t work for yours. Be mindful of how change management will affect long-term employees and acknowledge the potential learning curve.
7. Measure the success of your OPEX program
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 that operational excellence programs are measurable. But when setting your benchmarks, remember to consider internal and external factors to measure against.
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?
The next steps in maintaining your OPEX machine
These are just the first seven steps toward building your OPEX machine. You’ll need to continuously maintain and revise your process as your company evolves. The key to staying ahead of trends is to always be measuring, analyzing, and communicating data as clearly and quickly as possible.
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.
Ready to learn more about how Form.com can help you build a well-oiled operational excellence machine?
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