Photographs speaks volumes where words may fall inadequate. This is particularly relevant in restaurant operations auditing procedure in describing a visual crisis and highlighting the scope for improvement in the process. A very effective way of ensuring exactly what needs to be addressed and, therefore, an imperative component of an assessment. However, If your organization is still adhering to a method in conducting restaurant operations audit based on paper and excel spreadsheet, then you are faced with several difficulties as detailed earlier in an article https:/2017/06/5-reasons-excel-field-assessments-hurt-your-restaurant-chain/. Here we elaborate on a very important shortcoming in using excel forms when it is about adding visual documentation by using pictures. Excel spreadsheets, in general, have been criticized for its inability to present visual data as visual communication is least of its strength.
A field assessment requires a detailed evaluation of the location under assessment, and should cover all the aspects of daily restaurant operations and assess them in accordance to established standards of the restaurant brand with respect to Food and safety inspections, Cleanliness, Customer service and daily operational checklist. Operations checklists are an important way of creating and maintaining organizational goals, where each operations checklist may cover hundreds of aspects and as many corresponding entries making it a tedious and arduous process. At the same time, it is very important for these restaurant chains to keep conducting audits at a regular frequency to create an impactful process to improve operational consistency and standards.
Typically, a field assessment is conducted by a District manager who visits each store to conduct the audit and assigns scores to each aspect of restaurant operations and the results are then tabulated and emailed, pointing out the areas of improvement and corrective measures that need to be taken, assigning tasks and creating follow-ups in the process. They also attach photos and add comments as they prove very helpful in identifying and taking corrective actions.
In the traditional method of field assessments, these entries are done manually into an excel sheet after the assessment is completed and photos added as attachments with emails sent to concerned authority or respective designated personnel. This is a time consuming, lengthy procedure and also inefficient especially where photos are concerned for sending them as attachments may prove difficult to properly match individual photos with the corresponding task. Considering the number of operations checklists and the comprehensive sections numbering hundreds of items to be scored, this confusion is only inevitable.A digital solution with photo embedding feature in the assessment form, on the other hand, can automatically track, store and send photos with the exact area of the store that they relate to, all in real-time. This results in quick measures to address the issues and bring consistency in your daily restaurant operations.
For in-store visits to have a strong impact on improving a restaurant chains operations, they must provide actionable content with photo embedded field assessments. This means that the assessment should provide concrete and specific examples of which components of the location operated successfully and what areas have room for improvement. Having images saved and organized throughout each assessment with the precise task they are associated with are crucial.
Here are four reasons why including photos into field assessments can help your operations:
Clearly identify store infractions
The ability to directly see undesired elements through the help of a photo clicked and made available in real-time, enables the restaurant or franchisee manager to directly and instantaneously identify the issue and take corrective actions immediately.
Track historical images for improvement
With the photos available on the single one-step platform on the field assessment tool, where the results of the assessment, the assigned tasks and follow-ups are all amalgamated in an easy to use manner, makes it possible to store and access photos taken in previous assessments as well as compare them after corrective actions. As these are all available on the digital platform, the photos become a historical evidence of improvements over time. With Excel based assessment it is easy to lose track of previous photos once a new photo has been updated.
Ensure Franchise and corporate compliance
Availability of photos taken during each assessment for each location ensures ensuing actions that are in compliance with the organizational standards and helps in standardizing processes across all locations for multi-unit restaurants. This may not be so with Excel based formats where there is a lag in communication and non-availability of pictures in real-time.
Photo embedded feature in the field assessment tool is a perfect way of documenting the assessment result and following it up with post assessment corrective steps leaving an easily identifiable and visible trail of actions taken to improve on the shortcomings as pointed by the pictures.
So, we see how the ability to add photos into each report can help improve the documentation of issues for your District Managers, marking quite clearly, what’s been done correctly and incorrectly. Also, you can now retrieve photo updates to see the historical difference between assessments, giving a definitive remark on whether the area of concern has improved. From here, management can ensure that their franchisees and General Managers are compliant with store regulations and requirements. If a dispute arises, these photo repositories can help resolve them as they can be used as evidential proof.
In some cases, district managers take photos using their cell phones as they conduct the assessment. Here, they attach the photos later in one bulk upload. This can be troublesome when photos are in the personal folder on the team members phone. The potential for some photos to be forgotten, or even uploading photos that were not meant to be included is a possibility the management would like avoided. The largest issue with this method, as pointed above, is that, the photos can’t be verified as to the specific task or area they are associated with.
With a digital solution, these problems can be solved simply, easily and in a cost-effective manner with photo embedded field assessments. The photos are clicked and embedded in real time and updated on the auditing app hosted on a cloud based platform which is a single unified field incorporating all the aspects of the assessments and providing data analytics that can be compared over time and at a specific point in time. This enables tracking the photos incorporated into the assessment and following it up with the actions taken which makes it possible, literally, to see, visibly, pictures of improvements made and standards maintained in all aspects of daily restaurant operations across units for multi-unit brands. Adding photos in real time during an assessment is a great feature among others with digital solutions.
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