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The one-key theory

Pal’s Sudden Service, the 23-unit, Tennessee-based QSR, knows how to run a burger joint. In 2002, it won the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige Award for its highly structured management system. One of the cornerstones of its management philosophy is keeping everybody’s head clutter-free. Everything is managed down to the finest detail so workers don’t have to waste time thinking about what to do in any given situation. For instance, unit GMs are told how many and what color pens to have in their desk.

Micromanagement? Sure, but it also lets managers think about other, more important stuff. And if the chain puts that kind of attention on pens, imagine what it does with burgers. The head office takes the philosophy to heart too. That key founder Fred “Pal” Barger is holding? It is the only key he carries and it opens his house; his New York City condo; his Destin, Florida, condo; all Pal’s units; all locks within Pal’s units, including padlocks; Pal’s headquarters; and all garages at Pal’s facilities.

“We are always looking for the simplest and most effective solution,” says Pal’s President Thom Crosby. “We limit distractions and non-value-adding processes so we can serve the customers faster and more accurately.”

And get Pal into his stores faster and more accurately, too.

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