4 things I learned when I swapped the board room for the restaurant floor

by | 20.12.2016
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Our entire business at Quinyx is built around understanding our customers’ operational challenges and helping them to solve them by developing great software.

 

There’s no better way to understand something than experiencing it first-hand. That’s why, on the invitation from Vapiano’s CEO, I swapped my day job as the CEO of a multi-national tech company for a day as a shift leader in one of Vapiano’s restaurants.

Now, I’m no stranger to the challenges restaurants face. In fact, it was when I was working part-time for McDonald’s I first had the idea for Quinyx. But this was 10 years ago and I knew it was going to be a steep learning curve, especially as I was headed to one of the largest Vapiano restaurants in Stockholm.

What happened next was one of the best insights I’ve had into the day-to-day lives of one of our customers. Here’s the 4 key things I learnt after spending a day as a Vapiano shift leader:

 

1. Running a large restaurant require excellence in operational skills and structure

Cooperation and communication are vital to enabling a restaurant to run efficiently. With well over 50 employees on a daily shift and stations including a welcome desk, five different food stations, a bar and also their pasta baking station, there's plenty of communication and planning challenges to manage at Vapiano. Brilliantly, they have developed the "rule of 3" which describes their ambition to have cues no longer than 3 for any of the aforementioned stations in the restaurants. This rule helps staff prioritise and ask for help where necessary.

 

2. Restaurants need mobile & user friendly software

If you're planning to sell software to restaurants make sure you develop something user friendly and efficient. Employees in a restaurant are on a tight schedule and don't have allocated time for learning or managing a complex software program. Systems needs to be intuitive and available on the floor (preferably through mobile apps). Even larger restaurants typically only have one proper store computer. Smartphones have the capacity to transform the way restaurants operate by making KPIs and data available in real-time for employees to take better and more informed decisions.

 

3. There's no margin for error when you have ten customers looking at you

A big difference in a restaurant compared to a tech-company is their direct exposure to customers. In B2B-tech we're used to meeting one customer at a time (and many times over the web). In restaurants employees are being observed by tens of customers all the time and the slightest mistakes or shortcomings will impact customer experience instantly. This, of course, puts the highest requirements on quality and also on hiring and building a team that thrive in this type of environment. Vapiano has also put in place NPS-measurements on a daily basis to keep track of customer experience.

 

4. Restaurants need passionate employees 

My most important takeaway from the day was having the opportunity to work with such passionate and highly skilled workers. Vapiano has developed a world-class on-boarding process that make sure each employee has the right skill-set and also lives and breathes the right type of culture. What’s even more impressive is that they have designed an organisation that continuously deliver quality despite high turnover of staff sometimes reaching way over 50% yearly.

I’d highly recommend this kind of experience to any CEO, especially if the industries you sell to are very different from your own. Experiencing the challenges, demands and pressure your customers face will quickly give you an unparalleled and unexpected insight into their world. This will, without question, help you improve your offering and grow your business.

 

At Quinyx, we'll continue on our mission to help create a smiling workforce by offering the most user friendly workforce management software on the market.

 

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Guest writer: Erik Fjellborg

 

 

Erik Fjellborg

Founder and CEO of Quinyx.

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