In the quest for streamlined efficiency and cost-effectiveness, restaurant executives and operators often find themselves contemplating ways to reduce operational complexity within their establishments. Simplifying processes, cutting down on menu options, and minimizing staff responsibilities can appear to be logical solutions to enhance productivity.
However, like any strategic decision, the choice to streamline operations is not a one-size-fits-all solution. In this blog, we’ll delve into the nuances of operational complexity in the restaurant industry, exploring the potential benefits and drawbacks, and ultimately helping you determine whether always reducing complexity is the right path for your brand.
“I feel like we should reduce our operational complexity to make it easier for the teams.”
At first glance, how could there possibly be any issue with this statement?
Sometimes, due to the nature of your business model (on- or off-premise) and recipes, there’s a level of operational complexity attached to it. There are certain signs to look out for when your operations might be too complex and are taking a toll on your teams. For example, you might hear complaints from your unit-level teams, see longer wait times, or start noticing a bigger issue of order inaccuracy.
So it sounds like there are always opportunities to reduce operational complexity, right?
In reality, most restaurant leaders actually struggle to pinpoint the right area to simplify operations. Especially given that restaurant operations are closely related to the guest experience, it’s extremely important to closely monitor your guest experience metrics when adjusting your operations. You don’t want your efficiency to come at the expense of guest satisfaction.
How to turn this “I feel” into “I know”
First, identify exactly what your team should simplify. By leveraging Tattle’s smart objectives, you could first isolate the operational area that your locations need to work on that will most likely improve guest satisfaction. That could be speed of service, accuracy, food quality and more. This helps you tackle one challenge at a time, and prioritize those with the greatest impact based on data insights.
Next, go one layer deeper into the operational category to identify the factors responsible for most of the guest dissatisfaction. For example, you might be able to isolate the “build-you-own” menu items as the main “culprit” for guest dissatisfaction about order accuracy. Brands have tried many different ways of tackling this specific challenge, from limiting customization options, to placing commonly paired ingredients next to each other at the assembly station. This is where a bit of creativity could help you prescribe the best solution for your teams.
Examples of operations that you might not want to simplify often involve hospitality or quality check. You might not want your wait staff to skip the warm greeting and right away seat the guests at their table, or eliminate any quality assurance protocols before orders leave the door (e.g. MOD Pizza implemented a triple-check policy at the end of the assembly line after noticing order accuracy issues indicated in Tattle).
Lastly, test and monitor your guest sentiment data to track the effect of your changes. Especially when there are major changes — such as removing a menu item due to its disproportionate operational complexity, or completely changing the store layout to optimize your traffic flow — you might want to roll it out at select stores first before implementing the change brand-wide. We recommend designing such controlled tests for a few months and monitor guest sentiment to make sure they’re trending in the right direction. Also, focus on one change at a time so you can isolate the impact and make confident decisions as you go.
Our team would love to show you how the platform works for 200+ other restaurant brands including Chili’s, Hooters, Dave’s Hot Chicken and more! Alternatively, you can watch a quick video to see how the Tattle platform works to generate all the insights you need to make the above decisions.