It’s a concern that keeps multi-unit operators awake at night. When an established restaurant makes the leap from one location to many, trying to maintain a certain standard across state lines can be a dicey challenge. Traditionally, restaurant owners have relied on audits to stay informed. However, the pen and paper model can be subjective, outdated, and oftentimes better suited for a shredder than a staff meeting.
Ryan Vann, the executive vice president of operations and services at Last Call, a three-concept restaurant group that has more than 80 units, explains the problem from the ground. Even if an auditor completes his assessment of a specific store, scans it, uploads it, and sends it in, he notes, how would an employee at the corporate office really absorb the information? In an industry where time is fleeting, trying to sort through hundreds of hand-written audits is essentially unrealistic. And spotting real issues and trends from a mountain of paperwork is equally foolhardy.
“When I joined the company, all of our auditing, from facilities to operations to cleanliness and organization, to food and beverage specs to how we handle our finances, was only done with pencil and paper and then either just left at the store or scanned and emailed to somebody out there who never got it,” Vann says.
For the past year, Last Call has turned to the HappyCo platform for its 48 Fox & Hound Sports Taverns, 10 Bailey’s Sports Grilles, and 22 Champps Kitchen + Bar locations.
HappyCo’s Happy Inspector mobile app and Happy BI (Business Intelligence) platform automates a restaurant’s audit and inspection process. The information is collected on mobile devices and uploaded to the Cloud, where Vann or anyone from the Last Call team can quickly pull up a location and access the digitalized notes. The BI program arranges it so Vann can see, from a global perspective, what the company averages are on every single question posed in its customizable audits. “Based on that, we can rally around the opportunity as a brand and make an impact very fast,” he says.
Since deploying, the group’s internal shopper score is up from 85 to 91 percent, the cleanliness rating has jumped from 91 to 94 percent, according to a third-party certifier, and guest complaints have dropped from 1.7 to 0.8 per location.
One of the main reasons for this progress might seem simple, but it was a mythical concept pre-HappyCo. With the mobile technology, auditors can take and upload photos to go along with their report, giving Vann some tangible proof of the claims. “It’s like you were there yourself,” he notes. “You can’t argue a picture.”