I wanted to take a moment to touch on an operational theory about productivity.  At Culver’s we measure productivity in terms of how many guest experiences (transactions) we have compared to how many team member hours we have scheduled.  Productivity is an interesting metric that can tell an even deeper story than your actual labor cost.  The term comes the base word productive which means being able to produce.  One of the synonyms of productive is fruitful.

  • One of the most dangerous threats to a company is low productivity.  Low productivity hurts team morale, guest service, and overall profitability.  People often say that a slow restaurant is harder to manage because they have limited resources.  From my personal experience I can say that the real secret to this statement is optimal productivity.  I have seen slow restaurants that are not productive that become a nightmare.  I have seen slow restaurants that are highly productive become a success.  I have also seen busy restaurants with low productivity have more operational issues than slower units.  I think that the busy restaurant may have a greater chance to fall victim to this than a slower unit because it can fly under the radar.  A busier restaurant can over schedule and it doesn’t stand out at quickly as a slower unit.  Below are a few main causes of low productivity.
  • To Many Team Members In The Building.  If you have too many team members and managers in the building people have a tendency to not feel responsible for getting the job done.  Most people believe that it is not their responsibility to get something done. someone else will take care of it.  Having too many team members in the building makes everyone feel that they are not required to work to their fullest potential.  Then when the time comes and they need to work a little harder they either cannot handle it or feel resentful.
  • Poor Training.  This follows the line of having too many team members in the building.  If there are too many workers the training is often sub par.  If you normally have only 3 or 4 people for 4 stations everyone knows that they need to train the new person really well.  If you have 5 or 6 people for 4 stations the tendency is to put less effort and emphasis on training.  The level of urgency is lacking during the entire training process.  When the level of urgency is missing during training, this can spill over to how the team member views the job.
  • Not Holding High Standards.  If there is inadequate training, this often leads to not being able to achieve high standards.  Once our standards are lowered we again lose the sense of urgency need to perform when it gets busy.  Short cuts are the crutch used by improperly trained team members when they cannot keep up.  When there are too many team members it is also for a lot of finger pointing when the standards are not met.  The most common answer is that they were not trained correctly.
  • Poor Communication.  Poor communication by both team members and managers leads to reduced productivity.  You need to be intentional and over communicate so everyone is on the same page.  As mentioned before if there is a void of communication it will be filled with gossip.  Gossip is an absolute productivity killer.  Spending a couple of hours communicating the right things to the right people can multiply 10X when it comes to those people being more productive.
  • Working Down.  As an owner of multiple restaurants the number one things that frustrates me the most is when I see our managers / leaders working down.  There are times during the day when you need to pitch in and help out but so many times our managers end up working down way more than necessary.  Working down is a direct result of low productivity.  You end up doing tasks for others that they should be able to handle.  The result of working down is usually working more hours.  The answer to improve productivity is never to simply work more hours.  The answer is to be intentional and get more of your team to work up.
  • Busy Is Bad.  All of the above causes of poor productivity can lead to the mindset of busy is bad.  Once your team develops this mindset the shift is lost before it even begins.  Your team will start to manage the store down to a lower level of sales thinking that they will not have to work as hard.  The reality is that as the sales fall you need to work even harder than before.  Do whatever you need to do to foster the right mindset that it is great to be busy.  I hope we are super busy tonight.  Are you ready for a busy day? 
  • How To Improve Productivity:
  • 1. Have the right mindset and get everyone excited to be busy.  As you think so shall you be.
  • 2. Schedule the minimum amount of people needed for the shift.  The way to know if you have the right amount is if you feel a slight pinch point at your peak times but feel steady during the slow times.  If you have been overstaffed for a while this transition may be rough at first.
  • 3. Get the most out of your training hours.  It is important to let people fail a little bit during their training.  They need to realize how much work is required out of them when on a station.  Make sure that the trainer acts like a coach, not a fellow player.
  • 4. Communication.  Use your shift goals, jump starts, one on ones, training tools, certification sheets, check lists and any other means needed to communicate the plan to everyone.  Make sure that the plan and expectations are clear.
  • 5.  If you see it say.  As we have talked about in other posts, praise and coach at all times.
  • All of these tips will lead to your team working up more than they are working down.  Working up is the ultimate form of optimal productivity.  The closer the level of productivity in the store is to optimal the more fruitful and less stressed we will be. 

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