In recent years, multi-unit operators were already feeling pressure mounting to take their operations execution rigor to the next level. The struggle to quickly roll out system-wide initiatives and ensure consistent work quality in every location had become largely expected -- and an accepted status quo faced by restaurant, convenience store, and grocery chains.
But the pandemic has proven to be a tipping point for most operators - maintaining the status quo is now putting the business at potentially catastrophic risk.
Pressures mount against a “status quo” strategy
The struggle for visibility has been a longstanding challenge for operators looking to understand and control the processes and quality of work happening in each store or restaurant (e.g., food safety procedures, brand standards, marketing promotions). This has traditionally been addressed by deploying field teams that visit stores at some frequency but the approach still leaves much to chance that all the right tasks are getting done correctly across all the initiatives and standard operating procedures being rolled out. The feedback loop to the home office is slow, often “leaky”, and tends to be a lagging indicator of larger issues.
At the same time, operators face very real productivity constraints. Employees in stores, the field and HQ are fighting through a lot of manual tasks and processes which leave managers and leaders feeling they barely have enough time and staff to do the things they’re already doing.
With Millennials and Gen Z making up an increasing portion of the workforce, there’s also pressure to enhance the employee experience by removing barriers to internal processes with next generation tools and apps that are as easy to use and engaging as the ones employees use when not at work.
The tipping point
When the pandemic hit in the first quarter of 2020, it was clear that the industry can no longer operate as many have in the past, with a range of issues rising to the top including:
- Safety. The disruptions brought on by COVID-19 put a white high spotlight on employee and customer safety, with most realizing they do not have the processes and infrastructure needed to quickly roll out new safety procedures and strategic initiatives, or have the confidence that every one of their locations is complying.
- Operational agility. In addition to safety concerns, never before had operators found themselves having to roll out new or updated processes and initiatives as quickly. This exposed massive gaps within the operation that weren’t previously as visible or thought to have been a big deal.
- Quality of execution. In this new environment, inconsistent or poor execution of new procedures intended to drive safety or support new modes of operation has become mission critical. Visibility into the quality of work happening on the ground has always been difficult but was now compounded with field team mobility being limited or completely grounded.
Technology disruption creates new opportunities
In the last half dozen years, a growing pool of visionary operations leaders — spanning the domain of restaurant chains, convenience stores, groceries, and other distributed retailers - have been blazing trails and demonstrating that there’s a better way. They’re investing in focused operations execution initiatives that are driving a step function increase in productivity, organizational agility, and controls across the operation.
Technology has been a major enabler for a new set of emerging best practices in the area of operations execution (OpsX), with advances in cloud computing, mobile, and vertical-specific solutions creating new possibilities. The barrier to entry to deploy new technologies has plummeted, putting this new path in reach of all operators, not just the largest or best resourced.
As you chart your own path to take your organization’s operations execution rigor to the next level, here’s free access to the Buyer’s Guide to Operations Execution Software, a comprehensive resource for identifying the right solution for rolling out systems-wide initiatives and ensuring quality execution.
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