In the first two parts of this blog I set out why I believe multi-unit managers should have a structured approach to conducting business reviews and what that structure should look like.
Let’s now finish this exploration by looking in greater detail at what elements should make up this structured business review process (BRP).
- Unit performance – KPIs and financial result
- Quality of operations – standards of appearance, cleanliness and adherence to brand procedures
- Customer experience
- Employee experience and development
- Competitor activity
- Unit performance – KPIs and financial results.
A review of the most recent profit and loss management reports (P&L) that focuses on monthly results (against budget as well as last year) and year-to-date
performance. Where relevant individual P&L lines should be explored to understand variances (good and bad) but the emphasis is on the unit manager to have already analysed their performance and have answers ready for the discussion.
The conversation should move back and forth between the P&L and the quarterly action plan to determine the success of initiatives to drive sales or minimise costs. Again it should be stressed that the unit manager comes prepared, knowing the extra revenue or savings achieved by the actions agreed on the plan.
Other KPIs such as customer feedback metrics can of course be discussed here, again with relevant links back to the quarterly action plan. One-off actions and tasks should be recorded on a rolling action point tracker, which can be reviewed quickly during visits or phone calls, as needed.
- Quality of operations – standards of appearance, cleanliness and adherence to procedures
Existing audit processes (conducted by others) allow the multi-unit manager to focus on highlighting examples of good or bad performance by exception, rather than going through the whole process of audit checks themselves.
This doesn’t mean a walk-through of the unit, front and back of house, isn’t a sensible thing to do but the manager should be the one leading the walk-through, explaining what issues they may have had (highlighted perhaps by a recent audit) and, crucially, explaining what they’ve already done about it.
The multi-unit manager’s role is that of the coach, not the cop. They should be asking questions to challenge the manager’s thinking and actions, not directing what needs to be done unless the unit manager is clearly incapable of resolving a specific issue. Their focus is on understanding what their manager does and does not see in the unit, and then using coaching style techniques to explore gaps in the perceptions of the unit manager and multi-unit manager.
- The customer experience
Naturally following on from the quality of operations is the way in which the customer experiences the brand. From a restaurant perspective, this means both observing the unit in operation during lunch or evening trading periods and then taking an active role in giving feedback to managers, shift leads and team members.
Where new servers are in training, they should serve the multi-unit manager to see how they perform. The multi-unit manager should be on the lookout for examples to recognise and celebrate, as much as for issues to correct.
Reviewing customer feedback comments, mystery customer and/or social media comments (e.g. Trip Advisor reviews) should happen during the unit review section of the BRP. Understanding the customer experience can only happen in the restaurant as the multi-unit manager listens and watches the service unfold.
From checking that the service process is being followed, to sitting in on shift briefings, to noticing examples of how servers up-sell and bring the brand values to life; the time spent observing the operation in swing is critical and it is best to involve the unit manager in the process to once again see what they do and do not see.
- Employee experience and development
The rule of 7 development plan is meant to be an overview of the development activity happening in the unit monthly. Having a copy of this during unit visits allows the multi-unit manager to formally review it with the manager and follow-up with individual team members as they comes across them on shift. Checking in with them to understand what’s actually happened and what they’ve learnt is critical to making the development plan come alive.
It is likely that most unit managers will focus attention on the tasks and technical skills required in an individual’s role. What they may struggle with though (therefore needing the multi-unit manager’s support) is the behavioural skills needed, especially for anyone in their team who is required to manage and lead shifts.
“How do I develop someone who doesn’t know how to talk to the team, give feedback or motivate the team?” is a typical challenge the unit manager might have. The multi-unit manager needs to help them think through this and then get these goals and actions recorded on the development plan.
The rule of 7 is essentially a basic way of looking at succession planning. Who could be the next unit manager, who could step up to be a shift manager? These are questions that, across the units, the multi-unit manager should have answers for. While they won’t be personally developing people to become shift managers, they should be aware of what training they’re receiving and make a conscious effort to follow it up to show the importance they place on it.
- Competitor activity
How aware is the unit manager of what their nearest competitors are up to? Pricing, new menu items or promotions and improvements in service are all aspects of the competitor’s performance that the unit manager should care about.
They can only really know these by experiencing the offer during regular visits to their competitors. As part of the BRP the multi-unit manager and the manager (and other members of the unit team; as per their development plans) should go and visit these competitors.
The focus should always be on what the competitor is doing right and what implications this could have for the operator’s business. Operators naturally look for faults in the service experience and the quality of operations they see. The challenge is to get them to ignore the problems (that’s for the competitor to pick up on and resolve!). We’re interested in what’s going right and what we can learn from it?
At every part of the BRP the unit manager should make notes of actions that they need to take (with deadlines and accountabilities) and amend their quarterly action plan. Multi-unit managers should place an emphasis on reviewing these one-off actions and quarterly action plans to see what progress is being made. Once again it is the responsibility of the unit manager to ensure these documents are updated prior to the multi-unit manager’s visit.
Coaching and supporting the unit manages to do this will take time, however there should be demonstrable improvement in the unit manager’s ability to create and execute these plans within three to four months.
As ever, poor performance is normally a result of one or more of these factors:
- Purpose – they do not understand why the task needs to be done or the impact/importance it has.
- Capability – they have not had sufficient training to complete the task to the required standard and/or this training may not have been recorded formally.
- Opportunity – they have had enough time to practice and get feedback from others on their performance, but they do not have the tools and resources to complete the task effectively.
- Motivation – they simply do not want to do the task or see there’s any real value in it. Fundamentally, there are no consequences for not doing so.
As Jim Sullivan puts it: “the number one reason people don’t perform is very simple. They are allowed not to!”
The BRP is a way of working that prevents this happening by striving to ensure that the issues of purpose, capability, opportunity and motivation are tackled sufficiently.