What Does Blockchain Have to do with Food Safety?

By Vladik Rikhter

Blockhain for food safety


IBM continues to scale up its blockchain efforts, teaming up with some of the biggest names in the food industry. Participants include Walmart, Kroger, Nestlé, Unilever, Tyson Foods, Dole, Golden State Foods, and McCormick. Many are directly competitive, but joining forces for the public cloud computing project.

According to IBM, a pilot study with Walmart that began in Oct. 2016 revealed encouraging results. Their latest announcements indicate that the technology is working and can be scaled.

“Through blockchain, companies can optimize their administrative and business processes,” explains Eileen Lowry, a Program Director at IBM Blockchain Labs & Garage. “Major sources of inefficiency in the supply chain are manual, paper-based processes that waste time, cause errors, increase fraud risks and make inventory management difficult.” Blockchain reduces paperwork, thus reducing invoice disputes, lowering procurement costs, and increasing the accuracy of records. If you are new to the concept of blockchain, Lowry provides more insight in this blog post.

Imagine the capability of tracking a piece of fruit back to the tree it came from instantaneously. That’s the power of blockchain and its built-in compliance structure. As Lowery explains, blockchain helps solve the “social problem” of whether people are willing to share information. A ledger is shared so that everyone can access the same, up-to-date information. “New records can only be added when known participants have consensus on the validity of the transaction,” Lowery explains. “Once added those records are immutable, so nobody has to worry about unauthorized changes being made. These characteristics of blockchain help to increase trust.”

Trust, accountability, data visibility—these are all words you’d hope to be associated with food safety. But what if you could apply these same concepts to daily retail execution? For a moment, let’s focus on this idea of what Lowery described as the “social problem” of sharing information. Based on our experience serving retailers and restaurants, we’ve identified two common pitfalls within large organizations:  

  1.  Organizations rely on 20th century technology to solve 21st century challenges. The world no longer moves at the pace of snail mail and Excel spreadsheets to glean information. They need real time notifications. How many times have you asked someone at the end of a phone call, “Can you text that over or send a pic?” Operators need a fast way to see inside all their stores.
  1. Organizations lack accountability. Your team needs a way to show you when progress is made. They want to show compliance with new initiatives via photo and video. No one wants to spend time digging that information out of emails.

In addition to establishing a chain of command for accountability, there should also be a chain of command for tasks. To maximize returns, establish a chain that ensures that key preliminary tasks are completed prior to the actual rolling out of a promotion. Make sure store conditions are optimized, and ensure product placement and accuracy.

Zenput provides operators with a way to assign and track tasks in order to improve their consistency. Schedule a demo to learn more.

Is Your Business Hurricane Ready? 23 Things Stores & Restaurants Must Do to Prepare

By David Mostovoy

Hurricane damage

The worst hurricane season of the decade is in full force. This year's hurricanes have left scores dead, millions homeless, and billions of dollars in damage in their wake.

The lessons learned from each storm were stark and troubling - very little is safe from the wrath of battering winds and rain. With hurricanes season upon us, businesses need to prepare for, and attempt to minimize, safety hazards from these monster storms.

Operators always have the incredibly difficult job of tracking task execution of multiple locations. When a storm approaches, operators need to swiftly communicate new directives and ensure execution. Here’s how restaurant/retail operators on Zenput prepare their locations to protect employees, reduce property damage, and reopen efficiently.

Before a Storm, Communicate the Following Objectives:

  • Deposit excess cash
  • Create a process to decide whether to close a location during the storm
  • Locate the nearest Emergency Room and post its address in a visible place
  • Remove important documents from store or place them in a watertight plastic bag
  • Unplug all electronic devices before closing the location
  • Obtain a weather radio and make sure batteries are working - ensure employees are up to date on weather alerts
  • Back up computer systems
  • Check outdoors for loose objects that may be blown away with high winds; secure or move them inside
  • If possible, sandbag entrance/exit doors
  • Shut off main gas line before closing the location
  • Board windows and doors

During a Hurricane, Focus on the Following:

  • If location remains open, communicate to employees that they must remain indoors and away from windows
  • Stay informed of weather developments
  • If weather deteriorates, communicate to management that closure is required
  • Ensure main gas line is shut off
  • Be on the lookout for downed power lines
  • Communicate to employees how to discourage customers from approaching danger areas

After a Storm, This is How to Reopen Efficiently:

  • Survey the location for damage. If you, or an employee, encounter downed power lines, call 911 immediately
  • Send detailed damage reports with photos so management can dispatch the appropriate resources for a swift re-open, and have documentation of the damage to decrease the time to file insurance claims
  • Communicate inventory levels; if low, request a restock
  • Before reopening location, check for signs of contaminated flood water damage and downed power lines
  • Ensure food supplies are uncontaminated and in stock
  • Get a third party to confirm structures are stable and secure

Follow these checklists to minimze safety risks and losses, and recover quickly from the storm.

If you want to improve communication before, during, and after a hurricane, Zenput is here to help. Reach us at hello@zenput.com or (415) 968-2948.

Most important of all: stay safe. You’re in our thoughts and prayers.

Topics: Restaurants, C-store, hurricane, emergency

Why Gas Stations are the New Quick-Service Restaurants

By Lydia Fayal

gas station food

When it’s time to refuel, where do you go? A decade a go, you likely chose based on gas prices. Now when that light pops up, it triggers an almost Pavlovian response: perhaps you crave a taco at Sunoco, or breakfast bowl from QuickTrip… Gas stations are the new quick-service restaurants. According to a recent NACS study, 42% of drivers go into the store when fueling up, a 7-point jump from 2015. 16% of drivers surveyed said food was the primary determinant in selecting a gas station.

Gas station food is not a millennial-driven quagmire. It’s about profitability in a very competitive, regulated industry. Fuel margins are on the downturn - gas stations make pennies on the gallon. Cigarette sales aren’t what they used to be; taxes keep going up as popularity dwindles.

To stay competitive, oil companies need to team up with convenience store giants. Shell partners with Alimentation Couche-Tard’s Circle K; Exxon Mobil partners with Circle K and 7-Eleven Inc.

Some gas providers forgo partnerships altogether and instead want to build quick-service chains. Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s CEO recently outlined a plan to spend $380 million on Speedway private-label products. Their investor, Elliott Management Corp., is pushing Marathon to spin off its convenience store efforts in hopes of maximizing the value of both. We will continue to track Marathon’s progress into the food service space.

Quick Stats:

80% - Gasoline purchased at U.S. convenience stores including Zenput clients MAPCO and Sunoco. This is up 20% since 1997.

0.4% - The percent of U.S. gasoline stations owned by the five largest oil companies;  (a decrease from 1.9% in 2008)

45% - Millennials who stated that food was equally as important as gas when determining where to refuel.

20,000 - Number of convenience stores not offering gas that have shuttered since 2012.

28 - Fueling sites added to big-box store locations every month.

“20 years ago, we’d rarely talk about what we’d sell in stores, but it’s really taken root over the past 10 to 12 years and we had to reshape our business to make that possible,” said Billy Milam, president of RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., a regional chain that operates 450 outlets across the south.

RaceTrac celebrates its in-store offerings, and was recognized as CSNews’ 2017 Beverage Leader of the Year. RaceTrac’s Executive Director of Food Programs Steven Turner reflected: “We want to continue to use these categories to bring guests into our stores and, once they are there, get them to try our new food offer. When we do this successfully, our overall program has experienced great results.”

According to a new study released by Market Force, QuikTrip (QT) is leading the way as America's favorite hybrid gas station - convenience store. The Oklahoma-based company known for their made-to-order pizzas and sandwiches operates 700+ stores in the Midwest and South. “We wouldn’t be investing our money on in-store sales if we didn’t think that was the future,” stated spokesperson Michael Thornbrugh. QT is poised to surpass $10B in annual revenue, with 25% derived from in-store purchase.˜

QuikTrip’s focus on operational excellence is paying off, as shown in EnergyPoint Research’s recently completed 2017 Gasoline Retailers Survey. The retailer took first place in top-level categories: service quality, food and merchandise, ease of transactions, and store facilities. The retailer also received top honors in a number of regional categories as well.

Improving operations starts with gaining more visibility into operations across every location. Zenput is the prefered mobile solution of convenience store and gas station operators in the United States and beyond. Zenput enables field managers, franchise owners, and corporate operators to track performance and improve execution so every store operates as well as their best store. Zenput even integrates with thermometers to increase food safety. Schedule a demo to learn more.

Topics: C-store

Restaurant Operators vs. Yelp - How to Respond to Negative Reviews

By Brian Harris

negative reviews

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity…” except in the restaurant industry. Food safety and cleanliness concerns destroy brand value. This is not a new concept. However, operators now have the additional burden of protecting their brands against negative comments on social media and bad reviews on sites like Yelp, Google Review, and Trip Advisor.

A paper published by Harvard Business School found that restaurants see a 5-9% increase in revenue with each star rating increase. Chain restaurants are more protected than independent restaurants - patrons are less likely to reference online reviews because of brand trust. Also, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, people have a tendency to choose the location with more reviews. Social media chatter and reviews are not entirely bad - it’s better to have many assessments than none at all. However, brands need to think strategically about their approach to customer commentary.

Respond to Negative Reviews

To protect your brand, always respond to customer feedback, even extremely negative comments. Do not delete any comments from public forums; the coverup will create more controversy than the original comment itself. An exception to this is if a comment is profane or spammy - those comments are inevitable and must be deleted to discourage similar posts.

All authentic customer feedback should be responded to in a timely manner after you consider the following:

  1. How quickly can it be resolved and at what cost?
  2. How many people could the subject effect?
  3. What would happen if the problem became well-known?

Let’s consider a hypothetical. It’s pumpkin spice coffee season and the latte machine is broken at a heavily-trafficked location. Customers begin to complain on Google Reviews, Yelp, Twitter Facebook… they’re going to complain - after all, they’re tired, craved some caffeine with a pinch of holiday zest, and after waiting in line, they were refused. It’s a minor issue in the grand scheme of operations, but that location’s rating dip will impact sales - especially if this is a busy store.

Resolving the issue requires a store manager to send a product/maintenance request. Mobile products like Zenput allow them to do this in seconds, attaching images and videos of the machine to identify the problem. This request triggers follow-up requests to the individual(s) who can fix the problem. Within hours, a contractor could be at the store and the problem be resolved.

Be Proactive with Store Audits

Intercept operational problems that often lead to negative reviews. You’ve probably realized areas that regularly raise concerns: new promotions slow customer service, expired products stay on shelves, bathrooms aren’t properly cleaned. It’s time to take control of all your locations so they run as well as your best restaurant.

Zenput makes it easy to audit your stores via a mobile device. Uncover real-time, actionable insights. Understand areas for improvement, and implement new training programs.

Learn more about auditing with Zenput and view some real examples of audits used at restaurants.

Reducing Employee Theft Through Empowerment

By David Mostovoy

employee theft

“Increasing organizational accountability” is often a lauded phrase in restaurant and retail operations. The goal is to empower employees so operators don’t need to micromanage their stores - they can rest assured that every location is running efficiently. But what does organizational accountability actually look like and how is it measured?

One particularly difficult aspect of organizational accountability is loss prevention. Chris McGoey, founder of McGoey Security Consulting, specializes in appraisal of crime risk on commercial properties. In an interview with Convenience Store Decisions earlier this year, McGoey detailed how accountability is key to loss prevention.

He audited thousands of stores that he calls “high-shrink, high-cash loss,” and found all have some things in common—too much clutter and not enough attention to detail. A disorganized retail environment is indicative of disorganized management, and opens the door for dishonest employees to take advantage and blame new employees or shoplifters for unexplained inventory loss.

No retailer is immune to the problem of employee theft. The National Retail Federation’s annual security survey reported that employee theft is responsible for 30% of inventory shrink.

McGoey found that disorganized stores have more employee turnover and often need emergency employee replacements. This can lead to a cycle of poor training and the accompanying shortcomings in inventory, sales, and cash accountability.

So how do operators solve for this? The transition to a highly accountable retail environment doesn’t happen overnight; accountability isn’t maintained with good intentions alone. Retailers must have systems in place. McGoey advised: “Structure allows c-store operators to compare employee transactions and activity by shift and quickly spot the non-compliant or dishonest employee.”

McGoey emphasized the importance of establishing baseline audits for operations. Brands including Sunoco, 7-Eleven, and MAPCO trust Zenput to assign audits and track progress. Here are a few useful applications of Zenput to increase organizational accountability:

Cleanliness and Maintenance

Assessing cleanliness both inside and outside the store requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer in a checklist. Zenput allows operators to set parameters, show examples of how stores should look, and request real-time photos/videos. Operators are notified if standards fall below acceptable levels. They can see historic trends to understand how stores compare - the goal is to elevate every store so they are as clean as their best store.

Inventory Control

From the moment inventory enters the store until it is sold or transferred, how is it accounted for? How do you know where it is in the store? Customizable Zenput audits maintain the integrity of store inventory.

Employee Training

Operators can quickly push out new training instructions and track execution. Common training programs focus on cash accountability and food safety--areas that can make or break a brand.

Learn more about how to increase organizational accountability with Zenput by scheduling a demo.

Shoplifting, Return Fraud, & Employee Theft at All Time High

By Joe Skupinsky

employee theft

Operators are increasingly focused on loss prevention, and for good reason - retail shrinkage is increasing. Products are disappearing from shelves faster than you can one-click order that same product on Amazon - the other threat to brick and mortar retailers.

The annual National Retail Security Survey from the University of Florida analyzed retail shrinkage in the United States. Four numbers stood out in the results:

  • $48.9 billion: total losses resulting from retail shrinkage; up $3 billion since 2015
  • $798: average loss attributed to shoplifting incident; it was only $377 in 2015, and shoplifting is the number 1 cause of retail shrinkage
  • $1,766: average loss attributed to return fraud  
  • $1,922: average loss attributed to employee theft

Half of retailers surveyed reported increases in inventory shrink. Shrink is divided into shoplifting and organized retail crime (36.5%), employee theft/internal (30%), administrative paperwork (21.3%), unknown loss (6.8%) and vendor fraud or error (5.4%).

If there’s a silver lining in any of these survey results, it’s that the average cost of retail robberies in 2016 dropped compared to 2015. However, it is still more than double the average cost in 2014.

“Retailers are proactive in combating criminal activity in their stores, but acknowledge that they still have a lot of work left to do,” said Bob Moraca, NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention. “The job is made much more difficult when loss prevention experts can’t get the money they need to beef up their staffs and resources. Retail executives need to realize that money spent on preventing losses is money that improves the bottom line.”

To prevent loss, retail executives and operators need a better vantage point into their stores. They need to understand weaknesses that make them vulnerable to shoplifting and return fraud; then, operators can intervene and train employees. Operators also need to know how their store and field level employees are performing if they want to prevent employee theft.

This is where Zenput comes in - it’s a practical, cost-effective solution to improve daily retail operations. An annual Zenput subscription is less than the cost of one shoplifting incident. Schedule a demo to learn how Zenput will improve your bottom line.

Topics: loss prevention

Retailer Rankings Indicate Major Growth for Convenience Stores

By Brian Harris


Marketplace differentiation is an increasingly hot topic in retail as it relates to innovative merchandising and value proposition. What’s not? Sterile big-box retail.

This was a key revelation from STORES magazine’s Hot 100 Retailers, which ranks the fastest-growing retailers based on sales. Four of the top five companies listed are e-commerce businesses, with Walmart, Target, Costco and many department stores falling short of the list.

“This year’s Hot 100 confirms once again that retail growth is coming from a number of places, including less traditional channels in the industry,” said Andrew Stockwell of Kantar Retail, a research firm that compiles the annual list for STORES. “While a tremendous amount of volume is still generated from big boxes, retail channels such as online, discount, club, drug and convenience are powering accelerated growth.”

This list is bookended by companies in the grocery space, particularly companies focused on better-for-you foods. This is clearly evident as Mexican grocer Grupo Comercial Chedraui and SoCal gourmet supermarket Gelson’s, are ranked 8th and 9th, respectively - both saw an increase in sales of more than 25% since 2015. Market differentiation and a demand for specialty food is rewarded with major sales growth. It will be interesting to watch how the meal kit rivalry between Blue Apron and Amazon.com plays out, especially as Amazon moves forward in its acquisition of Whole Foods.

Mergers and acquisitions created a bit of a shakeup in the list. CST moved up from number 39 in last year’s ranking to number 5 this year as a result of its August 2016 merger with Circle K, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. The merger was completed in June 2017.

Meanwhile GPM Investments, a c-store operator that ranked 3rd in 2016 after embarking on an expansion course, failed to make the Hot 100 list this year.

For c-store retailers, the Hot 100 provides two key takeaways:

  1. M&A activity is “rewarded” and evident in sales growth.
  2. Brick-and-mortar retail is not dead, but ecommerce is playing a critical role in driving growth.

This raises an important question: How can c-store retailers stay competitive with ecommerce businesses?

Bricks & Clicks

According to the annual Convenience Store News Realities of the Aisle Consumer Study, nearly a third of consumers who purchased gas at a convenience store in 2017 went inside to make additional purchases. The rate is double what it was in 2011, though it seems to have plateaued - staying around 33% for the past two years. C-store retailers can achieve growth by focusing on increasing their number of frequent or heavy shoppers.

“More than half of consumers who stopped at a c-store on a daily basis (55.1%) this year went inside the store to make a purchase every, or almost every, time they stopped for gas,” wrote CSNews Editorial Director Don Longo. “Even weekly shoppers went into the store more often than average (35.1%).” Additionally, 40% of gas shoppers entered the store because of a promotional element; 17% were drawn in by a frequent buyer or loyalty program.

Let’s face it: who is better than e-commerce retailers at “pinging” customers to make them repeat shoppers? C-store retailers need to focus on improving promotional visibility and building loyalty. They have an advantage with prepared foods, but only if the brand consistently delivers.

Once convenience store operators can maintain exceptional quality, they need to “tout” their differentiation by reminding customers at every turn, through social media, loyalty rewards apps, and on-site promotions like forecourt and outdoor signage.

Location by Location

Increasing your number of frequent shoppers starts with increasing your understanding of store-level operations, and mobile technology is a tool that can help.

More than 6,500 c-stores worldwide are using Zenput’s mobile solution to improve their visibility at the store level and to analyze location data for a better understanding of productivity, including food service and promotional execution.

Learn more about Zenput and read a case study about one of the largest regional c-store operators in the U.S.

The Pitfalls of Mystery Shoppers

By Joe Skupinsky


After the  recession slouch, mystery shopping is finally making a comeback, and is buttressed by new technologies- cameras and mobile devices providing new and improved vantage points for retail and restaurant operators.  According to a recent report by the Orlando Sentinel, 145 companies are registered the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). Though the size and scope of this industry is unclear—fitting to its name, it’s a mystery!

What we do know is the amount restaurants are spending on shopper feedback. Restaurants pay between $50 and $75 per mystery shopper evaluation, plus meal reimbursement, which is the primary compensation for the mystery shopper (source: Washington City Paper). Restaurants spend upwards of $800 per month on mystery shops.

It can be argued that this is strictly a third-party labor cost, and a cost-benefit that retailers and restaurants should consider. Though the technology of collecting answers on mobile forms and surveys has made the process more streamlined, the operators are simply receiving a report. They still need  to do something with that information.

Here are 3 common pitfalls and reasons why retailers should NOT rely on mystery shoppers:

  1. Employees are more knowledgeable about your retail operations. The mystery shopper can only follow a “script” of directions. For instance, if they enter a store and a product or service they want is out of stock, they’ll note that one problem. But they might not know where to dig deeper. For instance, if the beverage promotion is not available in the store, it could be that the vendor didn’t deliver the materials on time or there was some other internal miscommunication. An employee, such as a regional manager, knows what to ask and when, without the risk of blowing their cover. Employees auditing stores can get to the bottom of problems that mystery shoppers simply don’t have the ability to discover.
  2. Mystery shopper campaigns make store managers and employees feel like big brother is watching. Retail audits are more collaborative and not as “top-down”. If a regional manager is seen visiting a store and typing into his or her smartphone, an employee might know that they’re completing a survey of that location. A directive to clean up or improve may not come as such as a surprise, and the employee may be open to the feedback if given an incentive to improve. But an employee who learns this information after essentially being “spied on,” and who isn’t assured a follow-up, may feel differently.
  3. Mystery shopping doesn’t bridge the gap between a report’s insights and quantifiable action. This is the most important reason not to rely on mystery shoppers. Retailers should instead consider a real-time mobile solution that gives senior managers the ability to create tasks and a follow-up protocol. The right platform will track compliance by location and have photo-sharing capabilities for added confirmation. Senior managers should also set up real-time email and push notifications based on a location’s performance or a defined threshold (like an audit score falling below 60%).

Technology has briskly outpaced the benefits of mystery shoppers, by not only uncovering issues, but also providing actionable insights and a means to follow up on those issues.  Retailers need to empower employees to audit their locations. Retailers and restaurants must deploy a solution to improve operations.

Learn how Zenput helps operators uncover issues and solve them with real-time reporting, alerts, and follow ups.

Topics: Retail

How to Write Questions for Retail Audits

By Vladik Rikhter

store audit

I don’t usually get to answer the headline prompt in the first line of a blog post, but here it is…

Dig deeper and don’t settle for the status quo.

That’s the overriding philosophy of writing questions for retail audits, but now for the more practical approach: What do you actually ask on the survey and/or forms of the audit?

Below are some examples of how mobile solutions like Zenput are used in the retail and foodservice industries, as well as questions that are most useful for obtaining actionable insights and guides on how answers can be leveraged to improve operations.


Food safety is a real-time top priority. Don’t settle for a series of “yes”/”no” questions about important criteria like food temperature that won’t tell you much more about store conditions. Instead, have the user actually record temperatures.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 2.18.14 PM.png

The appearance and taste of food is also a concern for brand consistency. Your regional manager can order the two most popular “hot” dishes and go through a series of quality tests for each.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 2.23.34 PM.png

Notice the sliding scale of 1 to 5 for appearance and flavor. Operators can set up notifications for any time a restaurant scores a 3 or below, for example. The form can also require a photo as verification of what the field manager saw.

C-Stores & Retail

In addition to question types like Yes/No, numbers, temperature, custom formulas (addition, subtraction), etc., mobile forms can also have photo attachments, allowing the user to show management exactly what the customer sees. Photos can be used to communicate food safety issues, verify promotions, or document cleanliness issues.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 2.34.34 PM.png



Compliance is difficult when there are many deliveries along a multi-business route and many promotions to keep track of. Mobile solutions lessen the burden by streamlining information and communication, allowing senior managers to confirm that the delivery was made.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 2.43.19 PM.png

Once delivery is finished, the store manager can include his/her signature to confirm delivery.

Digging deeper: With the right questions and prompts, retail audits can clue you in on equipment failures, maintenance issues, staffing problems, and more. But the ability to follow up on various issues is just as critical.

Zenput’s mobile solution allows restaurant and foodservice operators, as well as retailers, to uncover exceptions in real-time and create follow up tasks to resolve the problem. It then tracks those tasks to ensure that that problem was resolved.

Now you’ve seen how Zenput's mobile forms can be used. This platform is designed to save you and your team valuable time, while improving your customers' experience.

Have a specific question or want to see a demo of the product? Call us at (800) 537-0227 or schedule a demo.

The Impact of Millennials on Casual Dining: Insights from Panera Bread & Krispy Kreme

By Rob Shell


The impact of millennials on the restaurant industry is an increasingly common topic of conversation. “Casual dining is in danger—and Millennials are to blame,” reports Business Insider in an article entitled “Millennials are killing chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee’s.”

The article notes that this blame game has become cliché in retail. If you look at The EquiTrend Report from Harris Poll, Millennials actually give more brand equity to restaurant chains than their elders. They respond well to reliability, convenience, and consistency. Successful restaurant chains are figuring out how to leverage menu variety and social media to attract young diners.

Millennials, Millennials, Millennials—it’s becoming like The Brady Bunch equivalent of “Marsha.”

Finally, there was a recent study that put age aside and focused on the very specific quantifiable ones—between independent restaurants and chain restaurants. Research firm Pentallect partnered with Critical Mix to better understand consumer attitudes about independent vs. chain restaurants in regard to critical performance attributes, and the results may be surprising, even to veterans of the restaurant industry.

Here’s what they found:

There are two key takeaways from the chart above:

  1. Independent restaurant traffic and revenue growth is outperforming chains in all but three areas: use of technology, social media use and—to a lesser extent—location.
  2. Consumers rated Independent restaurant chains in 12 out of 15 studied attributes across both operational and emotional metrics. For most attributes, the perceived independent performance advantage is wide.

My own key takeaway/food for thought:

  1. If independent restaurants catch up on technology and convenience, chain restaurants are in greater trouble.

Getting to Work

Pentallect’s study clearly outlines some specific areas that chain restaurants can focus on when looking to improve their consumer ratings. If it seems like too much to tackle at once, take a closer look at a chain like Panera in the past couple of years.  

As reported by QSR magazine, the company agreed to be purchased by Krispy Kreme parent company JAB Holding in April and announced its plan to hire 10,000 employees to boost its delivery service from 15% to 35%-40% of the entire system in 2017.

The company also released its 2016 edition of its Responsibility Report that highlights key accomplishments over the past year, including achieving 100% clean food for its U.S. food menu and Panera At Home consumer packaged goods; converting nearly 70% of company-owned bakery cafes to Panera 2.0; and introducing a major expansion of small-order delivery. The company reports that it’s tracking past $1 billion in digital sales for the year.

Panera is also donating more than $100 million each year to fight food insecurity and operating nonprofit cafes aimed at addressing food insecurity.

Take all of the things Panera is doing and then check Pentallect’s list. You can see that they’re checking off a lot of the attributes on that list. With JAB’s backing and a demonstrated commitment to raising the bar, Panera is poised to have a massive global presence with enormous success. But there’s one important key to that success…

Maintaining Operational Excellence

It’s impossible for chains to enact Panera-level broad reforms without the use of technology. Technology, as Pentallect reminds us, is where chains still have an advantage, and when used appropriately, technology has the ability to make a large organization operate with the communication and cooperation of a smaller company.

Everyday, savvy restaurant operators are leveraging mobile technology like Zenput to increase store-level insights and increase operational efficiencies. Learn how Zenput might be the right ingredient for your restaurant operations. 

Topics: Business Operations, Restaurants, restaurant cleanliness