facebook pixal

Staying agile to align with changing consumer habits

Photograph: Shutterstock

As the end draws near for what has proved to be a challenging year for everyone, consumer habits continue to evolve. Things like readily available hand sanitizer and social distancing practices would never have factored into someone’s decision of where to eat prior to COVID-19, but are now at the forefront of peoples’ minds.

While many consumers have begun returning to restaurants, a recent survey conducted by Intouch Insight revealed that many are only doing so only once a month—giving establishments limited opportunities to impress them and win their repeat business. This makes it more important than ever to ensure each customer interaction reflects the quality and care put into both the food and dining experience regardless of when or where they choose to visit.

Procedural checklists and regular audits have been used for a long time to maintain operational standards, but how these are implemented can either help or hinder their execution. For businesses still using paper, one procedural change can make all related paper forms obsolete in a split second. Common office software may better facilitate small changes but still result in a multitude of disconnected sheets that need to be reviewed individually or manually input into a database—duplicating effort and the opportunity for human error while making it impossible to track trends.

The right tool for the job

As restaurant patrons become more comfortable returning to dine-in service, leveraging technology is critical to keep teams on track when it comes to meeting quality standards and keeping customers safe. Intouch Insight found that quality of food is now the top priority for consumers when just a few months ago it was cleanliness. In today’s world, where procedures and protocols are constantly changing, finding tools to help restaurant operators roll-out daily operating checklists, sanitation inspections, or food safety checklists will keep teams on track, and help keep businesses operating. 

Mobile forms software turns any smart device into a digital clipboard, equipped with any forms you need, and feeds all submitted data into a central repository without losing any of the benefits of outdated solutions. Need to help a guest in the middle of an audit? No problem—save the progress and complete it after. Dodgy Wi-Fi in a basement storage area? Simple—justdownload the necessary forms and work offline.

Because mobile forms are managed from a central hub, restaurants can roll out updates quickly. So, as guests' priorities continue to change, operators have the flexibility to easily update procedures to meet their needs. This central hub also aggregates the data employees collects in order to drive actionable insights. Applications like IntouchCheck™ provide clean, clear dashboards that allow operators to view key metrics at a glance as well as dig deeper in order to understand trends in data. Easily track top issues that have been flagged and target procedural updates to avoid them recurring in the future.

Save employees valuable time by leveraging built in automation. Critical items in an audit can be set up to automatically create follow-ups. If the freezer temperature isn’t correct, there’s no need to wait for a supervisor to review the audit when mobile forms software can alert them as soon as the audit is submitted. Operators can even alert regional managers if any part of the recurring audits score below a certain threshold during a specific time period to make managing multiple locations much easier.

The “Goldilocks” problem

With a variety of mobile forms software available, choosing which application is just right can be challenging. So here are four features to look for:

1) Customizable dashboards: A well designed, out-of-the-box dashboard will account for most of what’s needed and get restaurants up and running quickly. However, over time, there may be specific items that matter to a unique business, and it’s important to have software that will provide that flexibility.

2) Scalability: As business grows, new locations open or new uses for mobile forms are uncovered, the software should grow as well.. Be sure to choose a solution that can grow with the business, without breaking the bank.

3) Built-in automation: This is a big time-saver. Keep teams on schedule with alerts and flag new items for follow-up, as well as launch and track cases for quick resolution.

4) Data integration: Don’t let operational data be siloed. Ensure the software being used can be easily integrated with the other tools in use so the impact of operating procedures on loyalty rewards and point of sale systems can be measured.

Equipping teams with the tools to effectively implement meticulous brand and operational standards ensures operators are delivering a consistent experience for customers. Aggregating those audit and inspection results across locations has the added benefit of helping identify areas where staff may require additional training thereby maximizing the ROI of training budgets. Operators can even sign up for a free trial to test possible solutions before buying.

Help teams track trends over time and proactively drive exceptional customer experiences with mobile forms software, so that when someone does spend their one night out a month at a specific restaurant, they’ll want to spend the next one at the same place.

This post is sponsored by Intouch Insight

Want breaking news at your fingertips?

Get today’s need-to-know restaurant industry intelligence. Sign up to receive texts from Restaurant Business on news and insights that matter to your brand.