All System Education

All Systems Go

A few cool learnings from the NRA Show that you can apply to your business.

Not only was the show full of vendors and exhibits, but there were also a number of
educational programs from which these gems were taken. The common thread? It’s all
about creating systems that can be replicated shift to shift, store to store.

Thom Crosby, president of Pal’s Sudden Service (and 2001 Malcolm Baldrige Quality
Award Winner). Pal’s is all about systems — to the tune of an average 18-second time to
pay and pick up the food at their drive-through. The secret? System after system. Systems to
train their people ( and systems for each step of the order and
preparation process. Employees are required to create enhancements to the systems and
get them tested and approved, and then the new system is implemented chain-wide.

John DiJulius, author of Secret Service. As a salon owner who has seen his business
grow to staggering heights, John recommends “secret” systems — i.e., invisible to the
guest — that help employees customize or personalize the experience. Think about all the
opportunities you have to build systems to help your employees enhance service. A few
ideas that came to my mind: a button on the POS system to identify first-time guests or
those celebrating an occasion, a database to track repeat guests, a “rolodex” where guests
keep their favorite order and which doubles as a punch card — pull out the card, use their
name, pay, punch the card, and return it to the holder.

Drive-Thru Excellence. While technology can certainly help leverage parts of the
business or help you track and manage certain areas, service excellence really boils down
to systems. Clear bags and order confirmation boards might help the perception of
accuracy, but if the back-of-house systems are designed properly and followed, the food
will be made right and there’s no need for the additional expense.

On the other hand, there were a few cool technological advances to consider:

Wireless order/payment terminals. Send out a line-buster inside or at the drive-through. The
guest’s order is entered and credit and debit cards can be automatically processed while
the order is sent directly to the kitchen — no need to talk via the speaker or see a

Self-service order kiosks. Both Sheetz Convenience Stores and a Whataburger franchisee
are seeing success with check-average increase and speed of service by having the guest
do a bit of the work and placing their own order. Seems odd that we can train a guest in a
matter of three to five minutes to use the POS system, but the system our employees use
takes hours — maybe the POS companies will simplify what our employees use!

Build the systems and follow them and the rest of the year will be “all systems go!”

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