How to Find the Right Service Provider for Your Business

By

Lindsay Olsen

Facility and asset management requires keeping track of multiple moving pieces. Whether you’re tracking work orders, vendors, or invoices, you and your team need to create systems that match your business needs.

Developing a network of reliable service providers is a key part of keeping your operations running smoothly. While service providers may not work for your business as employees, successful partnerships minimize interruptions to your equipment and facilities with timely repairs and proactive maintenance.

A reliable, high-quality service provider network is essential for your business, and yet, devoting the time to research and vet service providers can feel like a daunting task.

You’re not alone in your search for the right service provider for your business. Here, we’ll go over how you can approach the task, what you should be looking for in a service provider, and the places and tools you can use to make the process easier.

What to Look for in Your Service Provider

If you were looking to find a new food vendor for your facility, you would take your time in the research phase before signing a contract. You’d ask questions about their sourcing, standards, systems, and other details like payment terms.

The same care and concern should go for your service provider. You’re not just looking for any service provider; you’re looking for a partner who can deliver for your business and your needs. As you start your search, it’s important to keep certain qualities in mind.

Experience & Stability

Just as you draw from your experience to determine your facility management strategy, your service provider should also have a secure foundation of industry experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for details of a potential service provider to understand how “mature” their business is.

Consider starting with questions like:
● How long have you been in business?
● How many clients do you have? (Are any of them local or similar to my business?)
● What is your training and experience?
● What is the training and experience of your employees?

Service provided fixing equipment

Relevant Certifications

Depending on the exact service, a potential service provider may be required (or simply encouraged) to have certain certifications. Consider asking any service provider about their trade background requirements and any relevant professional certifications.

In addition, if you use technology tools such as facility and asset management software, your service provider should already have the ability to use your system or be willing to undergo training to get up to speed.

Responsiveness and Accessibility

Whether you need to plan scheduled maintenance or last-minute repairs, accessibility is an important trait to look for in a service provider. How quickly your service provider can schedule services is a critical factor in how they will work with your business. Take the time to communicate your expectations at the beginning of the relationship, so you can decide whether potential service providers will be available and accountable when you need them the most.

In addition, don’t want to wait until a critical piece of equipment is broken to figure out who to contact in an emergency. Discuss upfront what methods work best for everyone: phone calls, texts, app messages, emails? How does your facility staff prefer to communicate, and how does the service vendor communicate? Agreeing on these details ahead of time can help you manage expectations and keep both parties happy.

Quality of Work

Ultimately, engaging with a service provider is an investment in your facilities. You want a high quality of work that you can trust. Even though you may sometimes need a service provider to respond urgently, you also don’t want to compromise the quality of work. Your service provider should balance accommodating your immediate needs and meeting expectations.

Courteous & Thorough Communication

Throughout your vetting process, your potential service provider’s communication style can indicate a lot about their customer service.

Both you and the service provider should devote time to developing your relationship, even before any contract is signed or work is completed. While a service provider will inevitably have other clients, they should have the capacity to communicate thoroughly with you as a client.

How to Find the Right Service Provider for Your Next Project

There are many ways to help you find the right talent for the job. You may need to use a mix of different methods to find the partners you need, but investing this effort over time can pay dividends for your facilities.

Facility manager searching on computer

Online Search & Reviews

One of the most common and immediate ways you can explore for a new service provider is through an online search. You can find names of various service providers, contact information, and even reviews about services.

While this method is relatively easy, it comes with its challenges. Searching for something like “plumber near me” can lead to an almost overwhelming amount of information.

Reviews can be a helpful tool in your search, allowing you to learn about experiences other business owners have had with a certain service provider. However, reviews don’t tell the whole picture. Some quality service providers may not actively prioritize reviews, leaving them as an unknown factor. Other times, reviews may range widely, leaving you unsure about the quality of a vendor.

An online search can provide a lot of information, but you may be left with more questions than answers. Ultimately, the results of an online search may not be extremely well-vetted.

Reviewing Service Provider Websites

If you want to go one step further than online search and reviews, examining service provider websites can tell you a lot about their business. Take a close look at their online presence, including any testimonials, helpful resources, or blogs. An active, thoughtful online presence can indicate that they prioritize communication with their clients — a trait that you want in your service partner.

women writing reviews

Word of Mouth

Asking your peers about local service providers can be another great strategy. You can hear from businesses that may be facing similar challenges to your facilities. However, if you aren’t connected locally with other business owners or some businesses are hesitant to share their experiences, you may need to look elsewhere.

Service Provider Directory

Using a tool like a service provider directory can be one of the most effective ways to find your next service provider. These directories leverage word of mouth, relying on service providers that work with real facilities. Because the directory is managed, service providers are also typically more vetted than a generalized online search.

For example, Ecotrak maintains a nationwide service provider network for various trades. Available to Ecotrak customers, this resource connects facility management professionals with service providers that work in their region.

Your business can benefit from direct communication with service providers within the software. These service provider professionals are already trained and up to speed with how to use our facility management software system, allowing you to take advantage of streamlined requests that include equipment details, historical asset information, and even photos.

Finally, with a service provider directory, you can rely on quality indicators like the Ecotrak Certified Vendor Badge, granted to trusted vendors who have completed Service Provider Training.

Finding Service Provider Success

Creating a network of reliable, high-quality service providers takes an investment of time and energy. However, with the right approach and tools at hand, you can develop valuable relationships that support healthy business operations.

Request a personalized demo of Ecotrak today to see how the leading Facility and Asset Management Software can help you find, organize, and leverage quality service providers.

Ecotrak’s full-service provider directory will be launching in July of 2022!

How to Adapt Your CMMS Facilities Management Strategy

By

Sean Sierra

There are myriad ways the COVID pandemic has impacted and disrupted us all, which has resulted in the unusual holding pattern in which we currently find ourselves. We know things will eventually return to quote-unquote “normal”. We know it will be a new normal. We know that how you choose to position yourself during this time could make the difference between soaring high upon the industry’s recovery or being left behind.

Restaurants have been hit particularly hard. The reduced workforce is wreaking havoc, and it’s incredibly difficult to rely on vendors to be there when you need them, and the only thing you can count on these days, it seems, is the continued need for repair and maintenance of equipment.

Thankfully, technology can help. As we’ve all been forced to think outside the box and come up with new strategies and processes on how to accomplish day-to-day activities, your CMMS facility strategy also needs to adapt. But what should it look like in a post-pandemic world, and how can it help position you for success?

Worker using tablet, analytics

Managing and Planning

When the COVID-19 pandemic descended upon us so quickly in early 2020, nearly every restaurant was forced to part ways with some percentage of its workforce. Hiring back has been an enormous challenge, particularly as we continue to navigate consistently inconsistent rises and falls in COVID variants and their accompanying protocols and restrictions. Since many veteran restaurant workers have now transitioned to other industries, there is an inexperienced pool of applicants. The numbers are staggering:

- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of late 2021, restaurants were trying to fill 1.7 million jobs.

- 28% of operators believe it will take between 7 and 12 months to return to normal.

This is where a good CMMS platform can help.

In managing workload, a good CMMS allows you to ramp up quickly. It allows you to be in tune with your locations without having to be on-site. It maintains clear-cut processes for the benefit of veteran and new employees alike, keeping everyone on the same page and training much easier.

In the restaurant industry, things will go wrong; equipment will fail, facilities will break. A CMMS eliminates frantic questions of who should be called, where is the vendor’s contact info, how much must be allotted for that repair. By removing such concerns, your team can instead focus on running a successful restaurant and adapting to the new normal.

Another thing about this new, younger workforce: They are more “plugged-in” than any generation before. They’ve grown up surrounded by technology, and expect it to inform, guide, and assist them in everything they do. Their expectations at work will be no different, which is why you’ll want to increase operational efficiency and put actionable data and analytics at their fingertips. Train them, empower them, then allow them to focus on the guest experience that will be so vital in determining which restaurants continue to move forward.

Someone repairing a damaged machine

Real-time visibility

If we are to effectively manage this predominantly-new workforce, we’ll need more of a reliance on CMMS than ever. Heading into the pandemic, most restaurant concerns fell under the heading of penny-pinching, looking to see where they could trim the fat. These days, maintaining profits continues to be a concern. It has also been compounded by workforce worries, suddenly unavailable service providers, and other issues.

Let’s say it’s the dead of summer, 105 degrees outside, and your HVAC goes out. Now your guests are essentially sitting in a sauna, your kitchen is vulnerable, and you’re in danger of losing a day of revenue. It is crucial that whoever is addressing the problem is empowered to get ahold of the proper service provider, get them the information they need to come out, and have all the details they’ll need on the unit – its age, model number, maintenance history, and so on.

Questions abound, and you’ll have the answers: Is it time to repair or replace? What is the effectiveness of your contracted maintenance? Where are repair and maintenance dollars going, and why? With a CMMS like Ecotrak, a desktop interface and app allows you to streamline communication, reduce time on the phone, increase accuracy and get it all to the right vendor every time.

At a moment when you need streamlined facilities management to counter a reduced workforce, it’s more important than ever that you get things right the first time. A first-time fix helps minimize downtime, maintain that all-important relationship with your guests, and allow others to stay focused on front-of-house concerns. The next time they need a plumber, an electrician, or anyone else, all they need to do is open the app and with a few swipes, they can get the information and approvals they need to resolve a situation.

The CMMS platform then provides invoice statuses in real-time, so it’s simple to track costs, monitor spending, and ensure that your service provider has been paid. And you can bet that the service provider will remember your organization and promptness, so the next time that phone rings, they’ll pick up quickly.

Using data, you can reduce your repair and maintenance spending. You can improve vendor relations and sidestep equipment downtime. You can streamline your facilities management and navigate this tricky time of reduced workforces.

Responding to a crisis is one thing; preventing it is far better. A good CMMS solution is akin to having a psychic on your payroll, as it uses machine learning to analyze your data and automate the building of analytical models that predict when, where, and how soon your equipment will need to be repaired or replaced.

Construction worker hardhat

As we move past this pandemic, and the volume that comes back, your structure will be amplified. In other words, if you have a good structure and a solid CMMS solution in place and are well-deployed, you’ll be able to flex those strengths. If you don’t, your weaknesses will inevitably become your Achilles’ heel, leading to more wasted hours, wasted money, and wasted effort. Reducing spending and managing maintenance is the common goal of every restauranteur, and a good CMMS solution can position you to make sure that when we finally emerge from all this, you’ll be in control.

3 Technology Trends to Watch for in 2022 and Beyond

By

Sean Sierra

Sean Sierra, Ecotrak's Director of Business Development, was a featured speaker at the 2022 Restaurant Facility Management Association (RFMA) Conference. Sierra presented a RIF Talk on "3 Technology Trends to Watch for in 2022 and Beyond." Watch the full presentation below.

To shift from surviving to thriving, leading restaurant brands are tackling industry challenges with new innovations in facility management software. In order to stay relevant and be efficient, facilities professionals need to be at the forefront of evolving technology trends. Here are three trends to keep an eye on so you and your team stay on top.

Takeaway 1: Asset Tagging –  Focusing on asset lifecycle management and utilizing predictive analytics data from a CMMS will be used in making purchasing, design, construction and development decisions. 

Takeaway 2: Internet of Things (IoT) – IoT technology provides insights that allow for real-time monitoring of assets by integrated sensors. Facilities managers can set up notifications for critical pieces of equipment when the system reaches certain power or temperature thresholds to significantly reduce downtime.

Takeaway 3: Artificial Intelligence and Automation – This shouldn’t come as a surprise. AI is impacting the software world in virtually every industry. With the help of artificial intelligence, iOT devices will automatically send service requests to CMMS software when equipment breaks or schedule on-going preventative maintenance.

RFMA Recap 2022

By

Kevin Pejoumand

This year, the Restaurant Facility Management Association (RFMA) hosted it’s Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee at the Music City Center. The RFMA Annual Conference is a 3 day conference centered around building relationships, educational info sessions, sharing best practices and discovering new resources within the industry. Ecotrak had an amazing time catching up with customers, service providers, colleagues, and friends. Wonderful memories were created at the conference. The RFMA 2022 conference was a blast, and we’re already excited for 2023 in San Antonio, Texas!

How Facilities Professionals Can Navigate the Labor Shortage

By

Kevin Pejoumand

According to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 10.6 million job openings in November 2022 and 6.3 million unemployed workers. The difference between those numbers, around 4 million, indicates there are many more open positions than employee candidates across the economy.

Labor is top of mind for most facility operators at the moment, because it has become a significant operational issue for facility business models. Staffing challenges have led to operational disruptions, rising costs, and tighter profit margins.

The labor crunch won’t disappear overnight, so many operators are looking at diverse strategies to address the challenge. Your facility should be proactively implementing a labor strategy that approaches the issue from many different angles, from adopting creative hiring strategies to finding new efficiencies with facility management software tools.

Money, financial

Cost of the Labor Shortage

There isn’t one single reason causing the general staffing crunch, but a number of overlapping factors are related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ripple effects from the pandemic continue to impact the economy, affecting everything from childcare availability to overall labor competition as industries hire heavily at the same time.

For your company, inadequate staffing undoubtedly has an impact on operations. Without enough employees, you may create a negative guest experience, be forced to cut operations or hours, and even potentially prompt a negative turnover feedback loop as existing staff face burnout.

High turnover rates have always created a large financial burden for operators, made all the heavier with the current labor market. The hiring process costs time and resources, and the disruptions to your team can hurt productivity, cause stress, and impact morale.

For most operators, fully staffing and reducing turnover are priorities. But with such complexities, where should your facility start?

For facilities professionals trying to navigate the labor shortage, there are three areas worth focusing on: hiring and retention, labor-saving facility data and analytics tools, and long-term investments.

Evaluating Hiring & Retention

At its core, facilities management is a people business. To address staffing, you should be investing in your people, from new employees to existing staff.

Always Be Hiring

In a competitive labor field, hiring should be a constant priority. While it may feel most urgent when you have a specific position to fill, consider listing “evergreen” job postings for your team to ensure you always have candidates in the pipeline.

As you invest in your hiring process, evaluate your system as a whole. Are candidates able to apply for positions, quickly and without a hassle? The more you can streamline the process for potential hires and your hiring managers, the better for your operations.

Offer Competitive Wages, Benefits, and Bonuses

With a tough hiring environment, your wages and benefits for your open roles should undoubtedly be competitive in the facilities industry. Make sure to list specific wage and benefit information in your job descriptions, rather than wait until the interview process, so that you communicate it clearly to potential applicants. 

If you are considering expanding your benefits, use surveys or listening sessions with existing employees to understand their priorities. You may find that certain specific benefits, from childcare rebates and tuition reimbursement to a commute subsidy, stand out to your potential hires.

Finally, leveraging hiring bonuses as an incentive can help generate new applications. These bonuses should be paid out promptly after a strategic time period, such as three or six months, to encourage new hires to stick through the initial training period and become engaged with the company.

Invest in Employee Retention

While you may need to focus on hiring, don’t lose sight of the valuable staff you already have on your team. Retaining employees is generally healthier for your bottom line than hiring new ones.

Using the above example, if you are offering hiring bonuses, consider implementing retention bonuses to recognize valuable long-time employees as well (which also shows your new hires that your company prioritizes staff appreciation).

In addition, while wages and benefits certainly are important to employees, many staff members also care deeply about their big-picture career opportunities. Investing in employees is a critical retention strategy, covering programs from training and employee development to prioritizing promoting from within the company.

Resume, hire more, interview

Make the Most Out of Facility Operational Spend

For many facility operators, investing in technology and automation can help counteract rising labor costs. If you are struggling to hire enough staff, you may want to consider investing capital in other places, like automating time-consuming processes and reporting.

Streamline Scheduled Labor Costs

Your labor data can help you find how to best streamline your labor spend, without negatively impacting employee retention or guest satisfaction.

Sales forecasting uses historical sales data and current market conditions to project sales in comparable time periods. Sales forecasting empowers your scheduling managers to make schedules based on data, rather than “what we always do” guesses. 

Your data can also showcase trends and help you refine labor costs over time. Granular info like labor spend by day part or by role can allow you to evaluate where tweaks are needed based on labor cost as a percentage of sales goals.

Look for Operational Efficiencies

Facilities management requires tracking many moving pieces and completing repetitive tasks. The more operational efficiencies you add in through all-in-one facility management software, the more you can streamline labor costs.

For instance, mobile-first facilities management technology can add time savings for your staff. Not only can you place service requests on the go, you can also increase accuracy by including photos, videos and manuals to work orders. With approvals, proposals, and invoices accessible via mobile, your team can find new efficiencies in their workload without adding new labor costs.

Facilities data and analytics software can add in other efficiencies in areas like equipment status tracking. A central dashboard can track real-time equipment costs, repair and maintenance costs, and warranty info. By proactively staying on top of the equipment life cycle, your staff can easily calculate whether to repair or replace without a time-consuming (and uncertain) manual process.

Automate Wherever Possible

Finally, using facilities management software to automate operations creates direct labor efficiencies and also improves the accuracy and relevance of your equipment data. 

As an example, automation can help streamline work order management, building a smooth system for creating, assigning, and tracking work orders. Managers can be prompted through customized workflows to quickly approve work orders and invoices. Facilities software can also automate equipment warranty monitoring, even diving down to varying levels of manufacturer, service provider, and component part warranties.

Overall, automation can streamline staff responsibilities, using custom workflows to remind key staff about scheduling preventive equipment maintenance services, reducing downtime and increasing equipment lifespan.

Addressing Labor in the Long-Term

While some components of your labor strategy are urgent in the short-term, there are also big-picture priorities across your facility to consider in your strategy.

Prioritize Continuity in Operations

Although it isn’t ideal, operators should be preparing to potentially experience elevated levels of turnover for an extended period of time. To ensure minimal disruptions, make sure to plan for continuity in your operations.

Your technology tools are a central part of this strategy. A Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) can ensure your team is tracking facilities spend, assets, and warranties in one central, secure location. No matter any turnover, this data is searchable and accessible.

With the right facilities management software, staff and leadership can get a complete understanding of facility spend and service history, broken down into asset, location, or repair type. A centralized, up-to-date database is key to absorb any potential turnover disruptions in your team.

Involve Leadership in Strategy

Finally, with the current labor market, staffing is no longer a concern just for the facilities-level managers. Addressing the labor shortage should be considered a major operational priority for facilities leaders, from the location-level all the way up to company leadership. Just as leadership and management set the tone for a healthy culture, the team is also able to influence the overall labor approach.

From the C-Suite throughout the rest of the organization, consider making hiring, retention, and staffing a visible priority and resource appropriately. Leadership can direct investment to new hiring and retention initiatives, or take the lead in supporting the shift to new facilities management software tools and solutions.

Desk office, working as a team

Find Success in a Challenging Labor Market

There are many different strategies to address today’s labor challenges. But with a focus on staffing efforts, technology efficiencies, and long-term thinking, your facility can turn these challenges into more streamlined, efficient operations and a thriving team culture.  

If you are exploring how facility management software can help your company navigate today’s challenges, consider exploring a facility management software solution such as Ecotrak. Using a Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) can empower your staff to thrive and help you add new automations and efficiencies into your facilities operations.

Request a demo of Ecotrak today.

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What is asset lifecycle management?

By.

Larry Carroll

It happens at home, just like it happens on the job. You take the time to research appliances, shop around for the best rate, set up your kitchen just the way you like — all in time for something to break down without warning. But while at home you might be able to scrape by without a stovetop for a few days, when it comes to work, inability to function means inability to serve, which means inability to open your doors.

Asset lifecycle management brings predictability to the unpredictable. It allows you to maximize your investment, minimize time spent grappling with adversity, and utilizes the latest in metrics and data analysis to help you learn how you can get even more value out of your appliances.

If you have a good asset lifecycle management plan in place, the three factors listed below are friendly, not fearsome. If you don’t, well, you’re operating like a chef with both hands tied behind his back.

cooler

Knowing what the future holds

Every asset has a natural, four-stage lifecycle: Planning, Procurement, Operation/Maintenance and Disposal. Whether your restaurant’s kitchen is shiny and new, or you’re acquiring equipment that already has a few years on the odometer, each item is at some stage of this lifecycle.

If you’re in the early days of a small operation, you might be able to keep track in your head of what’s new, what’s old, and what’s being held together with duct tape. But when your business becomes multiple locations, with multiple kitchens, and you’re making significant investments in ovens, deep fryers, refrigeration, beverage dispensers and more, it can very quickly overwhelm any facilities management team.

A smart business has the foresight to consider the entire lifecycle before even moving beyond the planning phase. As you’re researching manufactures and considering which model is right for your needs, you should also be analyzing likely maintenance costs, the average lifespan of the asset, and what kind of daily wear-and-tear it will endure in your kitchen. As you move into procurement, it’s vital that you activate and track all warranties, have serial numbers and model identifiers at the ready, and that each asset is installed and powered properly. Then, as you move into the operation and maintenance stage, issues can be overcome quickly and efficiently — with information at your fingertips that will prevent duplicate service calls and costly ignorance of the asset’s warranty eligibility.

By predicting when an asset will reach its optimal peak performance and leaning into that window, you can calculate its depreciation value, ensure compliance with regulatory standards and most importantly, keep your business up and running.

Planning a repair and replacement budget

Unfortunately, breakdowns are every bit as unavoidable as death and taxes. At that point, a key question presents itself: Is it worthwhile to repair the asset? Or is it time for disposal and replacement?

This is one moment where, if you have good asset management software to back you up, you’ll be empowered to turn a crucial decision into an educated one. For starters, every breakdown is a learning opportunity. A CMMS platform should compile and analyze them, across all your locations, so you can answer questions like: What’s my most commonly-occurring problem? What’s my most expensive problem? Is one manufacturer brand outperforming another?

If you have Ecotrak as your facilities management software solution, it’s simply a matter of any authorized person in your company taking out their phone, opening the app and looking under Ecotrak’s proprietary “Decision Making Tool,” designed by restaurant and finance veterans with such a moment in mind. The tool displays personalized details about your asset, its original value and likely cost of a replacement. It also offers an estimated useful window of service (based on the hive-mind experiences of other users) and reminds you where yours is in that likely lifespan.

The “Decision Making Tool" or DMT — whose icon is a weight-balance scale, to underscore the plus/minus decision being weighed — then gives you a likely estimate for your repair, shows you how much you’ve spent already over the lifetime of the appliance, and offers an easy-to-read gauge system to make the choice even more transparent. If the needle is in the red, it’s likely time to replace; if you’re in the green, a repair is the more reasonable choice. But perhaps most helpful is the small yellow section, indicating that while you’re safe for now, it would be wise to begin setting aside funds for a replacement in the near future.

Ecotrak decision making tool

Facility management dependence

Whether you have dozens of locations, or simply dream of getting there someday, it is crucial that you monitor the lifecycles of your assets.

Ecotrak maintains information specific to the asset, then makes it available to both the customer and the service provider, enabling a smoother interaction. From manufacturer to model to serial number, to the ability to track warranties on three different levels (manufacturer, service provider and the often-overlooked component warranties), to documentation and saved photos of the actual equipment, everything is available on the app with a few swipes of a finger.

Another great tool is the custom flagging feature. Imagine if you or your management team could run a report for a designation such as “earmarked for replacement,” immediately pulling up every asset in your company approaching that final stage of the lifecycle. Keep in mind, this is real time information, provided up-to-the-minute by those you have designated at various locations. If a manager came in to find a broken dishwasher during the morning shift today, that could be on your report. This flag feature allows you to build your budget, anticipate work to come, and increase visibility and communication — and keep in mind, you can make as many flags as you need for subheadings like “inspection needed,” “ready to be cleaned” and more.

All this asset lifecycle information, of course, informs your company’s facility management efforts, and vice versa. With a company like Ecotrak, it’s all under one convenient umbrella, constantly updating data that you can view, adjust and share from your mobile device or desktop. So, if you want to see the problems costing the most money across your company, or the ones occurring most frequently, you can do so with precision; if you’d like to view your company’s spend by asset (who knew that maintaining the soft serve machine and grease trap costs as much as the HVAC?), or monitor which vendors are taking the most average days to complete a work order, all that information is similarly up-to-the-minute and ready for a deep-dive analysis.

The bottom line

When it comes to asset lifecycle management, you can either be driving the train or, if you’re not careful, get run over by it. Imagine all the considerations listed above, multiplied by a dozen locations — or a hundred, or a thousand. Whether you’re talking about Del Taco managing 300 corporate locations with their Ecotrak software, or other existing partners like Outback, Burger King and Lazy Dog, it’s easy to see why a software solution for overseeing your assets is a no-brainer.

How Automation and Technology is Transforming Facilities Management and Off-Premise Business

By.

Ecotrak Team

Meredith Sandland and Carl Orsbourn, food industry leaders, are the co-authors of the new book Delivering the Digital Restaurant: Your Roadmap to the Future of Food.

Focusing on the rise of off-premise business and digital interfaces in the restaurant industry, their insights will resonate with facilities managers and any restaurateur looking to navigate the new normal.

How is automation and technology transforming facilities management and off-premise businesses? Here are some of the key takeaways from the book, available now at www.deliveringthedigitalrestaurant.com (use ECO25 for Ecotrack’s exclusive 25% discount).

Focusing on customer-centric & off-premise business

According to Delivering, the COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated disruptive trends that were already in motion. Restaurants now need to “shift how they think, behave, and invest to survive and thrive” to keep up with today’s consumer.

Consumers are demanding from restaurants what they’ve already been demanding from retail: quality and convenience, when and where they want it. Restaurants that can provide good quality food, with a frictionless, on-demand interaction, will be able to capitalize on new opportunities.

While some restaurants want to “return to normal,” Delivering argues that the baseline has fundamentally changed and is requiring new investments in technology. “The change in the consumer is creating the reason for technological investments to be made, not the other way around,” said co-author Meredith Sandland.

“The customer is now the center of your technological universe,” added Carl Orsbourn, co-author. “You need to make your decisions based around how to improve the consumer journey and your own engagement with the consumer. This means using data.”

ghost kitchen

Transforming the industry because “digital is not optional”

According to Delivering, “running a successful restaurant in the 21st century requires not just great food and great service—it also demands an understanding and application of technology.”

Sandland admitted the challenge of incorporating technology into business is difficult. She gave the example of a small chain restaurateur reporting that he received at least 10 emails or phone calls a day from companies trying to sell software and tech services, and he struggled to find the one that matched his restaurant needs. “The number of new technology solutions out there is so high, it can be completely overwhelming,” she acknowledged.

But while it may be a challenge, Sandland strongly advocated that technology offers a better way to operate a restaurant.

As the former Chief Development Officer for Taco Bell, she has deep experience with facility management. To streamline the time-consuming nature of maintaining and repairing equipment, the maintenance team used custom in-house software years before such things were widely available. These in-house solutions “allowed us to add efficiencies that other, smaller restaurant chains couldn’t access” while tracking service tickets and preventative maintenance.

“Before, it took a giant company like Yum! Brands [parent company of Taco Bell], with a huge balance sheet, to build these incredible technologies that only they could have. They needed a scale of all their restaurants to really have it make sense,” Sandland said.

“The new ‘SaaS-ification’ of technology is remarkable,” she continued. As software as a service (SaaS) companies grow offerings for technology and automation, smaller restaurant companies now have access to the same innovative software that can transform operations.

“Now, anyone can get these things for a monthly fee. I think it levels the playing field between the really big restaurant companies and the smaller ones,” she added.

Automating as much as possible

Now that efficient technology and software is available to restaurants, Sandland and Orsbourn advocate for facilities to take advantage of it as much as possible, particularly through automation.

Sandland explained that restaurant managers are responsible for a dizzying array of tasks, from HR to facilities to food and customer service. “If you can automate with software as much as possible, so that the heavy lifting is being done in a replicable and scalable way—I think it's critical for an operation to run effectively,” she explained.

Investing in automation can benefit restaurants particularly as labor costs continue to rise. Adding in new layers like remote management, or automation that increases speed of off-premise order aggregation and fulfillment, allows restaurants to cope with new challenges.

While it can be time-consuming at first, Orsbourn recommended following your own “technology road map” to understand what tech you need, when. How you implement automation, he said, depends on “where you are in your journey towards digital maturity”. The co-authors recommended starting by examining where there may be a cost problem, top line issue, or a bottleneck in tasks.

sushi takeout

Leveraging scale in off-premise opportunities like ghost kitchens

Delivering the Digital Restaurant also discusses the rise of ghost kitchens, restaurants that sell food without a front-of-house brand presence. These facilities may house multiple concepts within the same space, providing new efficiencies for utilities, labor, supply chain, and building costs.

Opportunities of scale can provide enormous benefits for facility management, said the co-authors. For example, for facilities that struggle to get out of a loop of reactive maintenance, ghost kitchens provide an opportunity to get ahead of preventative maintenance. With a density of restaurants in one location, said Sandland, “you can set up relationships with vendors to come in and do preventative maintenance in a way that's much more scalable for the vendor—and potentially get a discount on that as a result.”

The density also provides opportunities of scale for technology solutions as well. With the consumer demand for speed in off-premise sales and delivery, “that sets up a whole world of automation that can come in and make that process more efficient” in ways that might not apply to a smaller restaurant, added Sandland.

Increasing efficiency in facility management with new technology solutions

Facilities managers are at the forefront of using technology in a customer-centric, off-premise world. Sandland and Orsbourn highlighted multiple areas for facilities management professionals to focus on.

For example, Sandland explained that as consumers come back to dine-in, being up-to-date with repairs for items that consumers can see, touch, and feel is critical to a positive customer journey. While this may not have been a priority for facilities in the past year of minimal in-house sales, now, said Sandland, “if customers see things in front-of-house that are broken, they start to wonder what’s going on in the back-of-house.”

Orsbourn highlighted the need to prioritize building trust with consumers. The “open kitchen” model had been popularized in recent years, so customers could see their food being prepared. Now, in a world of food delivery and ghost kitchens, “all of that is hidden away,” said Orsbourn. The possibility of eventual trust or disconnection issues makes maintaining facilities and any customer-facing facilities more critical than ever.

Technology is also helpful for “monitoring kitchen usage as efficiently as possible”, said the co-authors.

Orsbourn shared that as “virtual brands” in ghost kitchens start to share spaces, “slightly movable pieces of equipment can help virtual brands in a more effective way” through an adjustable kitchen configuration. “I think there will be ways in which facilities managers are going to have to be able to understand the modularity of the kitchen to accommodate that,” he added.

Orsbourn also highlighted the major development of these off-premise kitchens: while restaurant revenue used to be limited by number of tables and turn times, for a model like a ghost kitchen, the limiting factor is actually the maximum throughput capacity of a kitchen.

“If I did have an infinite amount of tables out there, how many dishes could I truly push out through this kitchen? And what would I need to do to make that happen?” he said. Facility management is primed to take center stage as restaurants consider investing more in remodeling back-of-house instead of front-of-house.

Sandland agreed, adding, “I think there will be a lot more attention turned to the back of the house. How is it set up? What equipment is in it? What needs to be replaced? What should be more efficient? What should be more automated? The facilities management team typically gets to implement those decisions.”

Conclusion

As these developments take over the industry, it is clear that automation and other smart solutions in facilities management are more important than ever.

Interested in learning more takeaways from Delivering the Digital Restaurant: Your Roadmap to the Future of Food? Grab a copy of the book to learn more from Carl Orsbourn and Meredith Sandland’s industry insights (go to www.deliveringthedigitalrestaurant.com and use code ECO25 for a 25% discount and free shipping).

And if you are thinking about how facility management software can help your facility or ghost kitchen thrive in this new technology-driven world, consider exploring a facility management software solution such as Ecotrak. Using a Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) can help you track equipment in ghost kitchens and other off-premise businesses to thrive in today’s new restaurant industry.

What is facility management software?

By.

Larry Carroll

When you joined the restaurant industry, you wanted to nourish people’s hearts, souls and stomachs. You likely dreamed of helping create a gathering place where co-workers could get together for a happy hour, families could celebrate a birthday, or friends could catch up over appetizers. The last thing you wanted to deal with was work orders, broken equipment and invoicing. Which is where facility management software comes into focus.

A competent software solution provides invaluable infrastructure to a business, allowing many daily headaches to be eased by a streamlined, proven system; a poor choice, however, could just compound those headaches. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what facility management software is, and how it can help you get back to the things you really care about.

Facility management software also called a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a software that maintains a database of information about an organization’s assets, repair and maintenance operations. Businesses can place services requests, manage workorders, communicate with vendors and analyze data from a dashboard, thus helping facilities managers (FMs) do their jobs more effectively.

The benefits of good facility management software can be broken down into three categories. In some ways, each feed off the other; in a perfect world, they serve your business like a good insurance policy — operating quietly in the background, while giving you piece of mind.

facility management software data

1.  Data analysis

Robust, customizable reporting empowers you to make more educated business decisions. Viewing your spend data by such variables as equipment type, location and manufacturer affords greater insight into what’s costing you money and why.

Years ago, such data was mostly anecdotal, and most analysis had to be based on gut feelings. The more locations your restaurant opened, the more difficult it became to spot trends, know which equipment was giving you the best bang for your buck, and adjust plans accordingly. Today, if you properly track your facility management issues, it’s so much more than simply getting a grill fixed.

Every time a new piece of equipment enters one of your locations, you take a few moments to share information about its make, model, purchase date, warranty and other such details. A good facility management system will take it from there — no matter how big you get, no matter how much equipment you need to track.

When equipment breaks, rather than picking up the phone, texting, emailing or searching online for who to call, you simply place your request through a solution like Ecotrak; information is extrapolated from your original registration, a work order is created, and you get updated every step of the way as the equipment is repaired — even allowing the service provider to invoice you, and integrating with your own accounting software if you so choose.

When you have your spending monitored and your profit & loss performance maximized, that eliminates guess work and allows you to manage your operations much more effectively. It also empowers you on the fly to ask and answer questions like:

“What’s my most expensive problem?”

“Is one manufacturer brand doing better than another?”

“Is there a model within that brand that might be outperforming another model?”

A good facility management solution will provide immediate answers to these and other questions in easy-to-understand, highly-interactive graphs and models that bring you the next-level facility management data and analytics a growing business requires. By staying ahead of your asset’s needs, you can maximize its lifespan and minimize energy consumption — both important factors in sustainability. A good facility management solution also automates industry, state and federal regulations that require documentation of work and compliance.

Imagine having such information at your fingertips, and how it could assist you in making educated, data-driven decisions for your business.

facility management mobile app

2. Increasing Efficiency

If you aren’t actively tracking your refrigerant use and considering ways to redirect spending towards greener products, you aren’t doing your best to reduce carbon emissions, provide a healthy and clean environment for customers and employees, and save money on energy costs and compliance. If your aren’t budgeting for futures breakdowns and replacements based on past breakdowns and replacements, you aren’t properly budgeting and anticipating work to come.

Good facility management software gives you a wider overview. The ability to manage vendors, receive proposals, request service, handle invoices or approve work orders should be at your fingertips, using cutting-edge technologies and easy-to-navigate mobile apps designed with the operator in mind. A good facility management solution will give you this information in real time, allowing you to instantly see the status of every work order and the service history of every product, as well as its cost.

Typically, it also empowers those around you, allowing you to focus your time and energy elsewhere. If a manager at a location in another state comes in tomorrow morning to find a misbehaving refrigerator, as long as they are authorized, proper servicing is at their fingertips. When they submit a service request, you can set yourself and others up for approvals — and redundant requests are rooted out, eliminating the cost of mistaken visits from double-booked service providers. So when the next manager comes in for the night shift and encounters the same problematic refrigerator, their service request would result in an alert that the problem is already being addressed.

A system like Ecotrak — designed by people with a long history the restaurant and hospitality industry— provides an app that allows the user to execute such service requests in moments, as well as approving work orders and invoices with a swipe of the finger. It’s also a communication tool, enabling not only messages with service providers, but also a reviewable record of such communications. The app’s clear interface empowers the user by displaying the estimated life of equipment, its current age, and spend vs. replacement costs.

It takes about 30 seconds to find your restaurant location, select your problematic piece of equipment, type what’s wrong and if you’d like, upload pictures. At that point, you hit “submit” and can go back to work, knowing the ball is rolling.

Walk-in cooler

3. Saving money

On average, Ecotrak users find that warranty, call aversion and troubleshooting savings result in a 5 percent reduction in maintenance spending, one that typically has the software paying for itself in about six months.

Working with such industry-leading brands as Applebee’s, Fresh Brothers, Lazy Dog, Burger King and Buffalo Wild Wings, Ecotrak facility management software is constantly updated with cutting-edge industry advancements and insights, bringing users the latest ways to track their spending. Some have a handful of locations and big plans to grow; others use Ecotrak across thousands of locations.

Taking a unique, asset-first approach, Ecotrak tracks all things related to facilities and assets, giving you a snapshot of not only what you’re spending but where the money is going, what it’s being spent on and with which vendors. This results in a starting point to drive cost-saving initiatives and cost-reduction initiatives while gaining valuable insight.

There are 3 ways the company saves its restaurant operators money: Tracking warranties (and making that information available to both the operator and the service provider), spotting duplicate service requests (eliminating redundant service call charges), and troubleshooting. On average, Ecotrak customers save 5 percent on their repair and maintenance spend, empowered by AI-driven technology that allows them to manage spending, improve capital planning and better forecast the future.

The Ecotrak desktop interface has the same functionality as the mobile app, but adds in summary information and increased settings flexibility. All told, information is power, and a good facility management solution empowers you with granular data, viewed in a wide, flexible array of options.

Growth, Guests and Ghost Kitchens: C3 Navigates a Future of Possibilities

By.

Larry Carroll

Image Credit: Umami Burger

Some people might tell you the restaurant industry is at a crossroads. Adam Rinella, however, will be the first to tell you that it’s actually at the intersection of about a dozen crossroads.

“It’s really exciting to be at the end of the tunnel and seeing the light,” Rinella, the Senior Vice President of Development at C3 says after a year lost to COVID-19 lockdowns, yet one that has afforded smart industry execs the time to plan a path forward. “There’s a pent-up demand right now. We’re seeing sales in the markets that have re-opened early — Texas, Florida — that are 20 percent higher than they were in 2019. People want to go out, they want to go to restaurants and get back to regular life.”

A division of lifestyle hospitality company SBE, C3 spent much of 2020 navigating the unprecedented pandemic — while simultaneously exploring opportunities via ghost kitchens, celebrity influencers, software development and food halls that Rinella sees as potential ways to capitalize on this “pent up demand” and emerge with a business stronger, smarter and more nimble than ever before.

Sticky Rice
Credit: Sticky Rice
Image credit: Krispy Rice

Maintaining the culture

“We operate 20-plus brands, and we do that through a variety of kitchens,” Rinella says of a C3 roster list that includes big names like Katsuya and Umami Burger, paired alongside rapidly growing delivery-only concepts (at least for now) like Sam’s Crispy Chicken, Plant Nation and Krispy Rice — which saw triple its expected business during the shutdown and currently has 40,000 followers on its lively Instagram without so much as a single location.

Even before shutdowns accelerated mass adoption of delivery apps, C3 experimented with “ghost kitchens” and “dark kitchens,” but the company quickly realized such departures didn’t promote the sort of culture it wanted to embrace.

“We realized pretty fast that we’re in the hospitality industry, and when you eliminate the front-of-house piece, you lose that ability to connect with the customer,” he explains. “It was kind of a dismal operation.”

So instead, they pivoted to a plan where they would use existing kitchens in brick-and-mortar restaurants and hotels, simply setting up additional stations for the delivery-only brands. But even that plan, early on, had its hiccups.

“We figured out something really quickly,” Rinella laughs, remembering the confusion as drivers arrived at Umami Burger looking for a sushi restaurant. “The first day was a disaster. We had all these drivers showing up to the location, and they would put into the app ‘this restaurant doesn’t exist, it’s not here.’ We realized you’ve got to have some kind of way of finding signage for the drivers so they know they’re in the right place. We very quickly came up with a system of A-frame signs, wall signs and parking spaces.”

Now that those initial kinks have been worked out, C3 has positioned itself to thrive. Today, virtual and brick-and-mortar brands share space in their vibrant kitchens — and instead of retro-fitting such spaces to make room, future kitchens will be constructed with these shared-space learnings in mind.

“Now, we’re designing from scratch versus converting existing kitchens, and we’re designing them in a way that will cross-utilize equipment across brands and be set up in a way that considers which concept can be set up next to which concept — which will allow cross-utilization of equipment, labor and even ingredients,” he explains. “We’re getting things down to a science, and focusing on using every square inch of the kitchen to accommodate five, six, seven brands rather than just converting from an existing, single kitchen in a traditional restaurant.”

Sam
Credit: Sam's Crispy Chicken
Image credit: Sam's Crispy Chicken

Friends in high places

When SBE began as a nightclub company in the early 2000s, founder Sam Nazarian learned how to harness the power of celebrity. Such lessons have carried over to SBE, and today the company’s well-established relationships with influencers are paying off.

“There are so many choices when you go on DoorDash or Postmates; you have to know how to stand out,” Rinella explains. “One thing that has been brought along from our legacy SBE days is the social influencers, the celebrities and other things that were part of the nightclubs being very popular. Now, when we’re building these fast-casual brands, whether it’s through a ghost kitchen or brick-and-mortar, if you have huge celebrities and social media influencers endorsing your brand through their social media, that can be a huge differentiator.”

Hollywood power couple John Legend and Chrissy Teigen have professed their love for Krispy Rice, with Teigen telling her 34.7 million Instagram followers “you must order from them, and do not skip the shrimp!”C3 has also been working with the likes of Justin Bieber and Diplo.

“Sam has genuine friendships with these people; he’s known them forever, so he introduces them to the food,” says Rinella. “They’re not going to endorse something unless they think it’s of quality, and it’s on-brand for them ... it’s an intrinsic quality of C3 that we attract those people and they want to be a part of it.”

With such connections in mind, Rinella watched closely as Jimmy Donaldson — the 22 year old YouTube sensation known as “Mr. Beast” — recently sold more than a million burgers during the pandemic by launching a ghost kitchen chain called MrBeast Burger in partnership with Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl. The takeaway was clear: to successfully target Gen Z, look to their favorite YouTubers for branding opportunities.

“That was a huge success; people would order the food because they love Mr. Beast,” says Rinella. “So, we went out and partnered with several really big influencers ourselves, YouTubers with between 5 and 30 million subscribers. We’ll be creating brands with these people to do something similar; if you follow them on YouTube or Instagram, they’re going to have these little mini-brands based around them and the food they love, and people will be able to order that food through our kitchens all over the country.”

The difference, Rinella believes, will come from their high-quality brands. With C3 staff trained to not only create memorable food but also delectable food, the company is in a position to make such partnerships not only exciting, but also result in food actually worth eating.

“The way our kitchens are set up, with the equipment and skillset of our back-of-house employees, we’ll be able to produce everything at a very high level where it’s very good and craveable and people will want to re-order it,” he insists. “It will be the same sorts of followers, Gen Z marketing, but we’ll be hoping to execute these partnerships at a much higher level.”

Plant Nation
Credit: Plant Nation
Image credit: Plant Nation

Deck the halls

As the world reopens, Rinella has an eye on two additional emerging fronts: proprietary technology and single-ownership dining halls.

“We’ve created our own technology called CitizensGo, it’s a marketplace that launched a few weeks ago available on the web or via app,” he says. “You can build one cart from several different brands, have one financial transaction, and then have all the food come to you at once.”

If you’re looking to grab lunch for your family or office, CitizensGo eliminates the need to order from two or three different restaurants to satisfy everyone’s cravings. For the customer, the food arrives at the same time, paid in one easy transaction. For C3, instead of giving a sizeable percentage to a delivery app, they can negotiate a more reasonable fixed amount for last mile delivery.

“The fixed rate makes it more profitable and easier to plan. In addition, the data and customer account becomes your own, so you can get them into your loyalty programs and send them offers when you need to increase interaction,” Rinella says. “That’s the big pivot for us, trying to drive people through our own technology and originating the customer on our platform.”

But, there is still something to be said for dining in. So Rinella is always looking to carefully balance the tangibility of real-world locations with the flexibility of virtual brands.

“Rather than individual brick-and-mortar restaurants for all these brands, we’re building food halls,” he says of locations in various states of development in markets like Manhattan, Atlanta and Seattle. “We can say to a landlord, instead of negotiating with ten different tenants for ten different stalls and ten different rent checks, we have all these amazing brands we want to deploy in this community.”

The food halls give customers the type of choice they desire, and C3 the sort of opportunity to fine-tune plans on the fly that they embrace.

“We spread our brands throughout these stalls to make it a real brick-and-mortar place for these brands to live. If for some reason one of the brands doesn’t work in that community, we just quickly flip that stall to a different brand and see if that works any better,” Rinella explains. “So, the food is being deployed somewhere people can look and touch and feel, while we’re also putting those brands in the back of these restaurants and delivering others via virtual kitchens.”

Katsuya
Credit: Katsuya
Image credit: Katsuya

Maximizing equipment, minimizing delays

With so many crossroads to be navigated, and so many bold ideas moving the company forward, C3 is thankful for a Facilities Management solution that empowers them to manage their equipment, find footing in new markets and increase operational efficiency.

“Our in-house facilities techs across the country are set up with vendors in Ecotrak,” Rinella explains. “For managers, that gives them the ability to send work orders to an in-house technician or vendor using a standardized system and protocols, whether they need an in-house person to come out, or a vendor.”

As Rinella and his team move from their California strongholds to expansions in Chicago, Austin, Miami, Atlanta and other markets, they also find it immensely helpful to have a system that recommends proven, competent local vendors.

“If it’s a new market, we’re able to get feedback and recommendations from Ecotrak on vendors in that market, and we can onboard them so that right away, when the store opens, the restaurant managers have the ability to place work orders if they’re having some sort of trouble with facilities,” says Rinella.

It also empowers staff at all levels to keep things moving in the right direction. “The facilities manager becomes an air-traffic controller, seeing everything and evaluating work orders as they come in, giving feedback to the managers and helping them troubleshoot, managing the technicians and the vendors,” he adds. “Ecotrak is a huge tool for being able to see the 30,000 foot view constantly, while at the same time managing individual work orders and problems in real time.”

With palpable excitement around the re-opening restaurant industry, and customers eager to interact with brands both established and new, virtual and otherwise, C3 is re-opening businesses with the confidence that they’re in a position to succeed.

“We’re growing incredibly fast,” says Rinella. “Having Ecotrak as a tool on the facilities side allows us to scale quickly.”

How to Ramp Up Hiring as You Prepare for Full Capacity

By.

Restaurant365

As your business shifts from no or low capacity to full capacity, it's time to review your hiring practices.

The COVID-19 pandemic had an enormous impact on nearly all areas of business, including your staffing. But now, capacity restrictions are beginning to ease.

While this is certainly good news for facilities, this new phase comes with its own challenges. Your next phase of re-opening? Staffing your facilities to meet new demand from your customers, in the middle of a hiring shortage.

If you are ready to ramp up your hiring for the upcoming season, it's worth examining your employment process. Here are eight hiring tips to start with as you prepare for full capacity.

1. Target your jobs postings

The vast majority of job candidates are now starting their job search online. While a digital job board means you may be able to reach a wider audience than before, this wide net can also be a challenge.

If your positions are in a niche area, like hospitality or retail, consider using industry trade publications, university job boards, or certain social channels to post your listings. You are actively recruiting candidates, so post your jobs to reach the best applicants where they are.

If you use large job sites, consider leveraging geo-targeting for your posts to get your listing in front of workers who live in your area. Local applicants may already be familiar with your business, or at the very least, a long commute won't be a discouraging factor.

2. Write descriptive job roles

Almost every single industry seems to be hiring right now. Why should someone choose to apply for your company?

Many facilities jobs can look similar on paper. The responsibilities may overlap significantly between similar positions at different companies. With this in mind, don't open a job description with just the bulleted list of responsibilities.

Instead, capture a candidate's attention by highlighting the strengths of your company. Talk about the culture and mission. Leverage current team member testimonials or descriptions. Make it clear to a potential applicant why they would love to work with your company before you go into the details of the role.

Next, although you want to be creative in describing your business, make sure to still optimize your posting for what candidates are searching for. While "mixologist" may sound exciting to you, the perfect candidate may be searching the common word, "bartender". Use the most common and simple job title for an open position.

Finally, make sure that you include a salary or wage range for your postings. It's a competitive hiring field right now, so being upfront can be an advantage. Avoid general phrases like "plus tips" or "signing bonus." When candidates know that your wages will cover their cost of living, they will be more likely to apply.

3. Look for ambition, not just experience

In today's hiring shortage, you may not be able to find candidates with every single skill that you need for the role. However, ambitious applicants can usually learn the skill sets required. When interviewing for a role, look beyond an applicant's on-paper job experience to see their potential. While this will require investing in employee training, it is also an opportunity to teach an employee the exact skills they need for your company.

In addition, if you have found a candidate who is a good fit for a role, don't wait to make the job offer. Most job applicants are applying to multiple places at once, and in today's labor crunch, they may receive other job offers quickly. If you find someone who is a good fit, consider making the job offer as soon as possible—potentially on the spot, or within 24 hours.

4. Feature a professional career page

Potential candidates aren't just looking for a job; they are looking for a career. Let them know that they've found the right place. Communicate that working with your company isn't just an hourly opportunity, but an opportunity for career advancement.

Showcase this career path prominently on your website with a "careers" page. Make this commitment obvious by naming the page Careers, not Hiring or Jobs.

Use the page to show potential applicants how you invest in employees and encourage retention, as well as what job perks and benefits you offer. It's also an opportunity to demonstrate what your team culture looks like and how you celebrate current employees.

5. Prioritize assessments and pre-screen questions

If you are ramping up your hiring for the foreseeable future, an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can help streamline the process and keep it easy for both your hiring managers and applicants. Many managers know the struggle of scheduling multiple interviews and discover that most people don't show up.

Using assessments and pre-screen questions through your ATS can help ensure that only the most committed applicants are moved through to the interview round. With these questionnaires, you can not only assess the skill levels of applicants, but you can also see who is more likely to follow through. When applicants take the effort to go through these extra steps, you know they are much more likely to show up and engage in your in-person interviews.

For the applicant, these assessments and pre-screen questions can serve to become invested in the role and see that a facility is taking the hiring process seriously.

6. Champion diversity and inclusion

Diverse, inclusive teams are talented teams. Work toward your diversity and inclusion goals by using what resources you have, like your applicant tracking system.

If your ATS meets diversity and inclusion standards, it can help your management create a repeatable, thorough evaluation process. Interviewers can use the ATS to rate candidates based on the same consistent framework. With these metrics in hand, your managers can compare applicants on equal terms during the hiring process.

7. Focus on retention

If your business demand is growing again, it's inevitable that you will need to do more hiring. However, in the rush to hire new employees, make sure that you don't forget to prioritize retention of existing staff as well.

All employers know that high turnover is costly. When you need to fill an open position, you must recruit, hire, onboard, train, and go through a period of employee development. If you cannot fill the open position right away, you also have the cost of operating your facility with an unfilled team role, which can be difficult for your existing staff and affect customer service.

To avoid this cost as much as possible, examine your retention track record. Traditionally, retention tactics commonly center around increased pay, adding benefits, and career advancement opportunities. While these should still be a focus, you may want to go even further.

The past year has been difficult for workers and companies alike. Consider examining your company's accountability, flexibility, and investment in employees, and how these policies may impact retention.

Your company culture affects retention, for both your current employees and any future ones. The goal? To have your current staff telling their friends and family what a great place your company is to work.

8. Consider implementing a referral bonus

Finally, alongside retention, consider using your current staff as recruiters to help you find new applicants. Current employees can be an asset to help you attract quality applicants. A referral program can get everyone involved in the recruiting process.

Before implementing the program, make sure to communicate to employees why you are working with them for referrals: because you want more employees like them. If your staff feels invested, they will likely be more helpful in your referral search.

Of course, your referral program should also include a referral bonus as incentive. Make the bonus large enough to matter (something no less than $250) and pay it quickly (no less than 90 days). Making the bonus meaningful and timely can help your staff understand the beneficial impact of a great referral.

Conclusion

As business ramps up to full capacity, it's more important than ever to invest in quality recruitment and retention. With these tips in mind, you can be better prepared to meet the challenges of full staffing once again.

Restaurant365 incorporates restaurant accounting software, restaurant operations software, inventory management software, payroll + HR software, and scheduling software into a cloud-based platform. R365 HIRE makes it easy for you to filter, hire and onboard the optimal employees for your business.