In this Q&A with restaurant supply chain expert Matthew Joiner, we explore what an unsuccessful quality management program looks like and the short- and long-term impacts on a restaurant's business, brand and bottom line.
Q: Restaurants hear all the time that quality management is critical for their brands, along with so many other initiatives. Why should operators prioritize it?
A: Matthew Joiner:
Every high-growth brand knows that quality management is mission critical to delivering happiness to their guests, especially in our current environment when supply and labor continue to cause national and global issues. But what they might not know is that prioritizing quality management now gives them the competitive edge to capture additional market share and secure a future for their brand. We’re seeing it being used as part of an overall strategy across top brands like Shake Shack, Zaxby’s and Coffee and Bagel Brands (Einstein).
I’m sure you can remember a time when you dined at a restaurant only to be disappointed because they "eighty-sixed" the fan favorite, or it didn’t taste the way it was described. Having over 20 years in the hospitality world, I’ve seen those bad experiences be detrimental to a brand’s reputation and bottom line, changing that guest’s perception in an instant, and their long-term relationship with the brand. It makes no difference to them that there were disruptions in the supply chain like late or short shipped deliveries. They only remember that their experience was disrupted so it’s critical to consistently deliver the best every time.
You might be asking how are the top brands delivering on quality and making it part of their organizational identity and not just a quote on the office wall? It’s achievable for all brands, regardless of size or concept, with the right data tools in place. As the saying goes, you can’t know what you don’t know, and accurate data provides the truth needed to quickly resolve and stay ahead of issues.
Q: How can a broken quality management process impact a brand’s supply chain and business?
A: Matthew Joiner:
Let me first mention the standard and more obvious red flags of a broken process: difficulty tracking credits, below-average substitutions, substandard product, a lack of training for receiving staff, "eighty-sixed" menu items, a lack of process automation, and poor visibility and communication on where the issues are occurring. However, many times there are unknown issues that impact a brand and go unnoticed; think about the damage a leaky faucet can cause over time.
And these issues are further emphasized today as we’ve never lived in a time where such a high portion of our guest experience is being consumed off-premise, making it more important than ever to ensure consistent quality. With delivery and carryout, your guest might not eat the food until an hour after it’s been prepared. Strip away the atmosphere in the restaurant, the smiles of your staff, and they are left with simply what’s on the plate.
If the highest quality food isn’t even making it to your locations, how are you supposed to win the guest? Where is the highest quality food going? You may not understand why your competitor has a line out their front door, but the answers are in the data.
If brands are taking the time and energy to source the right product from the right vendor, hire and train the right chefs, and develop the best recipes, they shouldn’t be letting quality issues slip through the cracks or be blind to their quality data. So, I don’t think the question is how will it affect the brand, that’s obvious. I think the real elephant in the room is that many brands still accept the problem as a function of doing business, trusting staff to play whack-a-mole with one of their highest priorities and brand tenets.
Q: If organizations want to implement a quality management process or replace an existing one, how should they begin?
A: Matthew Joiner:
Start by implementing a best-practice process that’s easy to use, data-driven, and collaborative. Look for one that will bring corporate supply chain teams, store managers, and vendors into one interactive place where they can band together on issues and address them quickly with reliable data.
Additional features should include process automation that easily allows individual operators or franchisees to adopt it. Also ensure the program provides a closed loop system, from incident occurrence through to resolution.
Finally, tracking and monitoring quality data on items, credits, vendors, locations, and incident types, will help your team make strategic decisions on how to execute.
About Matthew Joiner
Matthew is a restaurant veteran, and he's been passionately serving our industry for over 20 years. He was an accomplished operator, managing at successful brands like Seasons 52, Wyndham Grand Hotels, Brio Italian, and BJ’s Brewhouse. Matthew received credentials from The Court of Master’s Sommelier and the Cicerone Certification Program after spending time as an Assistant Brewmaster with Swamphead Brewery. For the past 7 years, Matthew has been at companies like NCR, Compeat, and Arrowstream, helping restaurant companies utilize cloud-based technologies to better serve guests and meet brand initiatives. Connect with Matthew on LinkedIn.
About ArrowStream Quality Incident Management
Protect your brand and consumers by leveraging data and analytics to ensure you stay ahead of quality control risks and achieve product compliance.
Leading customers such as Dairy Queen, CKE Restaurants, Coffee & Bagel Brands, Shake Shack and Zaxby's are gaining better visibility and control over their store-level quality and service issues using our configurable workflow and partner collaboration tool.
With access to quality analytics, supply chain and quality assurance teams have visibility into partner performance so issues can be caught before they spread, protecting their brand and consumers. Learn more.