A Solution to Revolving Doors (and other issues) at Restaurant & Retail Organizations

Does this sound like you? You’re working in a restaurant or retail organization and your default response when senior leadership speaks about razor-thin profit margins and extremely high employee turnover is “we should conduct an employee survey” or “let’s look at engagement scores or benchmarks.” Is this approach effective for you? Do you have an answer when senior leadership then asks you to provide the ROI of these activities? If your answer to these questions is “no,” take a moment to hear about a large restaurant chain that leveraged the power of its people data in order to most effectively pinpoint where to focus managers at all levels to improve its business outcomes, all thanks to predictive analytics. The outcomes it was seeking to improve were the following: (1) customer count (the number of customers eating at the restaurant); (2) customer satisfaction; and (3) employee turnover.

“86” Engagement Scores

Since we’re talking about a restaurant, let’s start with some lingo – “86” – which means remove. And for this chain, it was “86” the focus on engagement scores only. Instead, the chain made its employee survey truly business-focused by honing in on four areas:

  1. Link employee attitudes directly to their real business outcomes (e.g., customer count and customer satisfaction)
  2. Prioritize interventions that have the greatest impact on their business outcomes
  3. Focus front-line managers on the areas that will improve their business outcomes
  4. Show the business impact of improving their key business drivers from the survey

Bake not Broil

A key step in building the analytics process was to align each restaurant’s employee survey data with its respective customer count data, customer satisfaction data, and employee turnover data. We think of it as organizing the food pantry so that canned goods are together, starches are on the same shelf, and so on and so forth. From there, it was critical to use the most appropriate analytics technique — structural equation modeling — which allows the organization to examine multiple business outcomes simultaneously, control for measurement error, and imply cause-effect relation­ships. Just like in cooking and baking, the method matters. You wouldn’t broil cupcakes because even though you had the correct ingredients, broiling would not produce the desired end result. Broiling has its uses as do gap analysis, correlations, and regressions. But, these methods simply are not rigorous enough to warrant advis­ing critical people investments.

An Award-Winning Recipe

For this restaurant chain, the analytics work revealed that the most important drivers of outcomes were Senior Leaders, Teamwork, Management, Communication, Ethics, and Job Fit. Thanks to this information, instead of every manager chasing an engagement score or focusing on what they think are the most critical elements from the survey, all managers across the organization can be working on the business drivers from the survey and truly drive change and get results. Consider the bedlam if, each day, a new line cook prepared your restaurant’s recipes by guessing, or worse, everyone used a different recipe. Figuring out your award-winning recipe for improving your business issues could take your restaurant or retail chain to an entirely new level.

If you’re interested in figuring out your restaurant’s or retail store’s recipe for utilizing employee surveys to improve your business outcomes, please contact us at info@smdhr.com. Also, you may read our white paper that details this approach further.

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