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New survey reveals restaurant chains struggling to translate operations strategy into consistent customer experiences

November 13, 2018

70% of operators say store compliance with operating procedures a primary obstacle

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 13, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Zenput, the global leader in operations execution solutions, today shared results of a survey of restaurant chain operators. The research revealed new insights into the primary obstacles facing operators as they look to roll out and get their stores to adhere to key procedures and initiatives. Key findings from the survey reveal:

-- More than 70 percent of respondents report a primary hurdle to consistent customer experiences is that their stores are not correctly following operational procedures. -- Only 20 percent of respondents graded the roll-out of operating procedures and key initiatives as “very effective” in terms of store compliance. Just over 1 in 10 respondents reported more than 95 percent of their stores in compliance with core operating procedures. -- 3 out of 4 respondents called out “improving compliance with operating procedures” a top priority in the next 12 months to drive operational excellence. -- 92 percent of respondents report either using or planning to use mobile technology to enable store operations.

“Restaurant chain operators know that delivering great customer experiences and superior performance across stores is a direct function of the operating procedures and strategies they design for their stores to follow,” said Vladik Rikhter, CEO of Zenput. “The data coming out of this research effort seems to emphatically underscore the reality that most operators are having a hard time rolling-out brand standards, food safety protocols, marketing promotions, and other key initiatives -- especially when it involves driving compliance across dozens, hundreds, or thousands of locations.”

Zenput surveyed both restaurant corporate brands and franchisee organizations across QSR, fast casual, and casual dining segments, with nearly 90 respondents in roles spanning the C-level, operations, regional managers, and IT. Here are other key insights from the research.

Visibility into store compliance and flagging potential issues early are key obstacles to operations execution

A core part of the issue operators face appears to be lack of visibility into how well stores are adhering to the operating procedures, standards and initiatives being rolled out, with only 1 in 3 respondents saying that they have “very clear visibility” into individual restaurant compliance.

Identifying potential issues early and quickly resolving them also seems a common challenge, with only 18 percent of respondents reporting they are able to “very quickly” identify store-level issues, with 2 out of 3 respondents reporting it takes anywhere from one to four weeks to address issues once identified at their stores. Store auditing rigor might be a partial root cause, with only 26 percent of respondents reporting that audits were performed “very effectively” in terms of timeliness and issue resolution.

Taking control of food safety is a top-of-mind concern

When asked to what degree they were confident that they are able to identify potential food safety concerns before they become an issue, only 52 percent of respondents reported a high level of confidence. It was then not surprising that only 1 in 4 respondents believed that more than 95 percent of their stores were in compliance with food safety protocols, with 22 percent estimating that less than 75 percent of their stores were in compliance, which seems to indicate a general feeling of vulnerability in the industry.

Restaurant operators are embracing mobile technology in a wide range of areas to improve store operations - and they plan to ramp investment in 2019

Two-thirds of respondents reported their stores had at least one tablet in place for back-of-house use in each of their stores or restaurants, with 21% reporting two tablets in place. Looking ahead, 40 percent of respondents plan to purchase at least one additional tablet for back-of-house use in each of their restaurants over the next 12 months.

As operators hone their strategies for 2019, the top areas where corporate brands report they plan to invest in mobile technology over the next 12 months include 1) store tasks and audits, 2) inventory tracking, and 3) temperature reads/monitoring. In contrast, the top areas where franchises plan to invest include 1) employee training, 2) audits and 3) inventory tracking. Other top areas of planned investment across all respondents include incident reports and sharing operating procedures, with 1 in 4 respondents planning to use mobile in these areas.

To get even more insights into this research, view this infographic. A deeper dive into the research results will also be shared in a webinar on December 6th -- click here for more information and to register.

About Zenput

Zenput is how top operators make great customer experiences happen. Restaurants and other retail chains such as Dominos, Chipotle, KFC, Jersey Mike’s, 7Eleven, and Mapco use Zenput’s operations execution platform to see inside and improve the operations of every location. By making it easy to roll-out, track and enforce compliance with operating procedures and key initiatives, Zenput helps operations leaders who are collectively overseeing 40,000 locations across 35+ countries collaborate more effectively with employees in the field and in their stores to improve performance and exceed customer expectations. For more information, visit us at zenput.com.

For more information contact Cassie Ebinger at (800) 537-0227 x110, or email hello@zenput.com.

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