3 Ways to Maintain Strong Roots in Operational Excellence: Part 1

Tom Hart
Published On:
Jul 01, 2022

Developing and maintaining strong roots of consistent operational excellence in foodservice can be similar to the nurturing needed to establish a tall oak tree; good hearty soil as a foundation, the right amount of water for continued growth, and sufficient sunlight to allow the tree to reach its full potential. If any one of those are lacking, or insufficient, the tree may stunt in growth, or perhaps never really take root.   

Striving for operational excellence in your restaurant, convenience store, or supermarket needs a sufficient balance of a strong foundation of principles and standards, a growth plan for team members to flourish, and “sunlight” to understand results and celebrate success. 

In this 3 part series, we’ll break down how this impacts frontline teams. 

Part 1 - A Strong Operations Foundation: Non-Negotiables and Transparency

In multi-unit operations, you and every one of your stores need discipline, a set of common goals, and clear expectations for your team leaders. It’s good soil for the future growth of your oak tree. Without this foundation, employees often carve their own path, and that can send your team in too many directions - tough to manage and impossible to establish growth. 

I can remember this challenge when called upon to lead a convenience store operations team that was in disarray. We didn’t have a foundation of any sort, just individual priorities and problems that we solved as they occurred.

empty shelves in a store

I took a step back and wondered; if I had to build this team from scratch with a whole new approach, what would I do? This clean-slate thinking opened up possibilities for a new way to manage this team that was struggling to find its way. It wasn’t a lack of talent, or experience; we had plenty. We did not have the right disciplines, common goals, or even expectations. 

  1. Non-negotiables. First we created “non-negotiables.” These were critical areas that were not open to debate. A series of agreed upon situations, or policies where we all followed the exact same protocol. Typically these revolved around reporting accidents, safety procedures, proactive loss prevention methods, and supporting key initiatives that have been established, like a marketing campaign. Although it may seem nuanced, it wasn’t. These non-negotiables established a set of disciplines that no longer had to be debated, rather a series of actions were set into place. We all moved in the same direction with these directives. 
Team working together


  1. Transparency. When you are in operations, problem-solving is on the menu each and every day. It can’t be avoided. Sweeping problems into a corner, or hoping they will go away only makes the foundation weaker. Embracing transparency in a way that opens the door of communication without the fear of repercussions, or immediate judgment allows the team to share common issues together. This transparency will lead to quicker problem-solving amongst the team and understanding that if we work together early, we can mitigate a much larger problem down the road. This takes time and trust needs to be established. 

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of this series and download the Zenput Guide to Agile Operations Execution to learn how to quickly turn new strategies & procedures into the right actions across all your locations. This guide gives you the tools to take immediate action around public health & food safety initiatives, brand standards, marketing promotions, and more.

The Zenput Guide to Agile Operations Execution








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