How Domino’s Plans to Stay Ahead

By David Mostovoy

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Image Source: Google

While other pizza chains struggle, Domino’s is thriving (Over 1300% stock price increase since IPO in 2004). That’s the subhed of this story on investment site The Motley Fool. Shares of Domino’s Pizza jumped more than 11% in October, according to data by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The pizza chain jumped 13% in same-store sales in the third quarter, making it the 22nd consecutive quarter of positive growth for its U.S. business. Domino’s is making bank, too, with net income rising to 24.8% year over year to $47.2 million in the third quarter.

We’ve already discussed what Domino’s is doing right in tech. Through an array of digital platforms, customers can quickly and efficiently place an order. In fact, more than 50% of Domino’s business comes from digital orders, compared to about 20% for the industry as a whole.

Those who have followed Domino’s transformation during the past couple of years know their success is not luck or coincidence. They’re a company that has invested heavily in technology and marketing, and realize how the two go hand-in-hand. Moreover, Domino’s has its operations down to a science, from the Pizza Tracker once an order is placed, to delivery. Combine that with a revamped and innovative menu, and Domino’s has created a recipe for success.

It’s also worth noting that Domino’s recently made history when it completed the first commercial pizza delivery by drone in New Zealand. The company is excelling in overseas markets as well, with same-store sales rising 6.6%—an impressive 91st consecutive quarter of international comps growth.

What Comes Next

When you’re experiencing the kind of success Domino’s is seeing, it can be tempting for a company to rest on its laurels. Complacency is one of the most dangerous states for a brand. Domino’s has avoided this by continually innovating in not only what customers can see, but also what they can’t see.

Domino’s franchises are using Zenput to maintain high customer satisfaction standards, food safety, and quality. Zenput mobile solution provides Domino’s the ability to audit operations, labor activities, and cash uses. Zenput is also a real-time notification tool that enables two-way communication between stores and management. For instance, Zenput can be used to audit vehicle inspections, request maintenance or supplies, and communicate customer or property incidents. From the top-down, senior district managers can use Zenput to assign tasks to his/her stores and track compliance among those locations. Domino’s has even used Zenput for customer care phone audits.

All of these components are part of customer service, and exceptional customer service—quite simply delivering a hot pizza to a hungry customer in time—is what will continue to set Domino’s apart from the competition. And Zenput plans to continue providing the real-time insights that will help Domino’s improve its business decisions.

To learn more about how one of the largest Domino’s operators uses Zenput to manage daily tasks and improve store productivity, download the case study.

Topics: Restaurants

There's a Better Way for Global Franchises to Communicate

By Brian Harris


Arby’s is planning an expansion into Canada.

Grimaldi’s pizza expands to United Arab Emirates.

Carl’s Jr. opens its first location in Chile.

Papa John’s plans to open 20 stores in Morocco.

These are just some of the global franchising news we’ve encountered in the last few weeks. It’s truly amazing what globalization and high-speed communication has done to the food franchisee community, and it’s evident in the bold overseas expansion plans of some top companies.

When it comes to overseas expansion, you often hear about the parent company partnering with a locally-based franchise development company. This locally based company helps the brand transition to that particular market, especially with communicating to staff.

While it’s important to take local customs and culture into account, there are just some aspects of a brand that can’t be compromised—much like a language that must be translated. Here are three of those values that are pretty standard across the industry:

  1. A clean and inviting dining experience

-> The global franchisor will have to abide by rules and regulations of the country of expansion.

  1. Courteous customer service

-> What is considered a friendly customer greeting in this country? Perhaps it’s not a requirement to look a customer in the eye, but instead to use a formal greeting.

  1. Fast and efficient service

-> Is the overseas kitchen equipped the same? Is the franchisor offering new, fresh menu items that have different prep times? These are all nuances that must be accounted for.

So how, exactly, do you account for brand compliance, especially when the franchisor and franchisee may be several thousand miles away from each other?

Using a Nimble Communication Platform

Relying on traditional forms of communication—emails, calls, and fax—can create barriers and frustrations. For instance, if the franchisor requires the global franchisee to call in during business hours, it may be during a critical prep time or when the franchisee is preparing to run through their end-of-day list checklist before closing the restaurant.

Instead, consider a real-time, cloud-based, mobile platform. Franchisees can work with franchisors to translate brand best practices—literally to translate the language and figuratively to account for any cultural nuances. Those best practices can exist as a series of simple checklists that are easily disseminated to mobile devices via the cloud.  

Rather than requiring franchisees to call or email, franchisors can update store conditions and communicate concerns in real time. They can also upload a photo or video to illustrate exactly what’s happening in their stores. A platform like Zenput also enables franchisors to set up different levels of alerts.

For instance, a senior manager at the franchisee development company may be alerted to key maintenance issues, which the parent company can’t easily resolve in real time. But if the franchisee reports that key materials, such as signage and branded store elements, never arrived via shipment, then managers at the parent company could act. The parent may also want to be alerted to any food safety concerns at the store level and to track the follow-up process.

The best way to find out if this platform is right for your organization is to try it yourself.

Check out some of Zenput’s mobile forms that may be helpful to global franchisors:

Food Quality Evaluation Form

Restaurant Food Safety

Restaurant Customer Service Evaluation

Restaurant Scheduling and Procedures

To learn more about how Zenput helps restaurants, click here.

Topics: Franchise

Effective vs. Ineffective Franchise Operators. Where do you fall?

By Vladik Rikhter

future fast food pic.jpg“Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.” – Alfred Montapert

I think this is one of the most inspirational quotes for franchisees. Not just because it’s food related, but because it’s the truth of the business they know. Foodservice franchises, whether they are restaurants or convenience stores, are a messy business to manage. Food safety is its own realm, not to mention the expectations of customer service. Then there’s all the equipment and storage responsibilities.

The restaurant manager encounters challenges every day. It’s how they respond to those challenges that makes or breaks a brand. Are you eating them for breakfast, or are you letting them consume you?

If you’re a franchise operator, you know that you can’t be everywhere at once. You sign a contract and you place a great deal of trust in another operator to uphold your brand’s standards and best practices, which you’ve taken great care to define and communicate… or at least you think you have.

That’s the thing about compliance in a franchise network—you need to communicate well with franchisees early on and clearly define serious standards violations.

To make this point clear, I’ve created the following 5-point progressions of an ineffective vs. effective franchisor.

The Dichotomy of the Ineffective vs. Effective Franchisor


  1. Has a contract but never extracts the most relevant information to create simple checklists.
  2. Doesn’t clearly communicate core brand expectations with franchisees on a regular basis.
  3. Visits each location, documenting with paper and pen. Notices some problems that aren’t yet violations. Never follows up on them.
  4. Expects franchisees to readily answer phone calls and emails during business hours. Feels like they find out about problems when it’s too late.
  5. Feels blindsided by a franchisee’s problem that goes public.


  1. Has broken out the contract into manageable lists, with some criteria that are not simply “yes” or “no.” The checklist requires detail and explanation to complete.
  2. Regularly communicates with franchisees. Pushes out updates and notifications quickly and in real time.
  3. Documents store conditions using a cloud-based mobile technology on a readily accessible device. Use of a nimble platform alerts senior managers to core inefficiencies, enabling them to act on their findings at a particular location and assign follow-up tasks. Therefore, compliance is well-documented.
  4. Understands that franchisees need to operate their business during business hours and can benefit from new technologies.
  5. Can predict franchisee failures before they happen. And in the worst-case scenario, if the franchisee relationship results in legal action, the franchisor has thorough documentation of non-compliance.  

If your operations sound more like the “Ineffective” model, don’t fret. The “Effective” model is well within reach. It starts with your commitment to explore new systems and update your processes through technology.

Get started by looking at what Zenput can do for restaurants and c-stores.  Or schedule a demo here.

Topics: Business Operations, Franchise

How McDonald’s Can Make New Menu Item Execution More Manageable

By Joe Skupinsky

mcdonalds interior.jpgHas McDonald’s finally hit its stride with its newly announced menu items? Analyst Andrew Strelzik of BMO Capital Markets thinks so. From a stock perspective, he believes that McDonald’s is on pace to reach its 2019 objectives, which includes a cash return to shareholders. Finally, some good projections for the Golden Arches.

When it comes down to it, a $22 to $24 billion cash return to shareholders comes down to brand initiatives. According to Strelznik, McDonald’s is poised to benefit from new menu items, a corresponding large-scale marketing project to promote the new items, and a stronger brand image to support demand. McDonald’s is set to take advantage of an improving restaurant environment that will emerge in the second half of the year.

Today’s modern food culture values real, made-to-order food, and McDonald’s seems to have gotten the message. By mid-2018, customers who order a Quarter Pounder can expect a fresh beef patty off the grill, not from out of the freezer. The move to go fresh comes after the chain tested the fresh beef burgers at more than 400 restaurants in Dallas and Tulsa, OK, for about a year.Competitors Wendy’s, In-N-Out Burger and Shake Shack all use fresh beef. Considering that McDonald’s revenue fell for the fourth year in a row last year, it might have been time for the company to return to its roots: the hamburger. That’s really what it comes down to, right? Quality food served in a quality environment by friendly staff. Everything else is a distraction (a point Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s seem to have realized by dropping the sexy ads and introducing a Baby Back Rib Burger).

Combine that with the fact that McDonald’s has recently lowered prices across its drink menu, and launched a line of Minute Maid slushies in the Midwest and South. Indeed, it seems like Mickey D’s has a spring in its step as it aims to recapture lost customers.

Food Safety is a Top Concern Among Franchisees

As a brand initiative, McDonald’s fresh beef is exciting, but don’t forget that when it was first being tested in restaurants, franchisees were rightfully concerned about speed of execution and food safety. According to a Nomura survey, one franchisee wrote, “If we do not handle the meat perfectly, there is an opportunity for bacterial invasion of our product.”  

That is absolutely true, and brings to light storage, handling, and preparation concerns. Food safety is a wide-scale, concerted effort that requires attention to detail, documentation and adequate follow-up. It’s one thing to test a concept in 400 restaurants. It’s another ballgame to have more than 10,000 restaurants offering fresh beef. And in an organization as sprawling as McDonald’s, food safety is going to require the initiative of forward-thinking franchisees.

Forward-thinking is about using technology to your advantage. It’s about realizing that there’s a better way to communicate through real-time, cloud-based technologies, and that there’s a better way to document kitchen conditions than paper and pen.

Let’s face it: it’s safe to never change your menu and to never change. It’s also how brands lose—when they can’t adapt. As one McDonald’s franchisee stated, "Our line continues to slow down with added items and will continue to do so. However, we are a restaurant and we ought to always serve the best food so [the slow down of the line] may not outweigh the positive [of adding fresher ingredients]."

A lot of critics have wondered if McDonald’s would ever be able to make a comeback. It seems like all the pieces are finally coming together. The question remains: are franchisees up for the challenge? Will they be able to navigate the “noise” of more foot traffic, avoiding distraction and prioritizing food safety?

There are tools to help franchisees create a consistent customer experience. Check out Zenput’s mobile form for gaining store insights and contact us for a demo.

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Topics: Restaurants, restaurant cleanliness, cleanliness

For That Person Who Needs to See the Value of Mobile Tech in Retail Operations:

By Joe Skupinsky

I’ve said this in the past, but it’s worth repeating: at Zenput, we are practitioners of reality. We are the real-time operational insights provider through our mobile software solution. Our customers in the convenience store, restaurant, retail, and CPG spaces realize our value as they customize our platform to fit their own unique operational needs. We’re always talking about real-life solutions to real-life problems.

With that mindset and approach, we don’t always concern ourselves with theory and hypotheticals. So the other day, as I was reading up on industry trends, I came across a “textbook” representation, and really a validation, of what Zenput offers.

Class is in session, and I shall profess! First, check out the chart below (credit to Scott Allen Mongeau for this visual):

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First, observe the two axes: “analytics maturity” and “business value.” Notice as analytics mature, they become more transformative for your business and as business value increases, it becomes more strategic.

Now look at where the chart begins: Data Quality is the figurative “low man on the totem pole.”

How is your data quality? Are you still using spreadsheets? Paper and pencil checklists? There’s a better way to collect data than manual processes. In fact, to move upward on this trajectory, you’re going to have to use technology and automation.

So you adopt technology and you get promoted to Descriptive (business Intelligence). Say you adopt Zenput, which has the basic function of giving you the ability to document or report conditions at your locations in real-time. You essentially create a mobile checklist that you can distribute to store managers with the click of a button in real-time, and the answers are collected in real-time. Great! But you can do so much more...

The next step on your trajectory is Diagnostics. Set up Zenput to alert you of exceptions. For instance, your managers numerically rate the promotional execution from 1 to 5, and you get alerted to any display that scores a “3” or below. Zenput easily identifies those stores, allowing you to virtually check in and see what the problem is.

You also have the ability to follow-up on any shortcomings that were documented during the descriptive phase. Assign follow-up tasks and monitor compliance in real time. This is when you start to gain even more knowledge about challenges your managers have at the store level. For instance, maybe the promotion wasn’t executed correctly because the vendor or distributor did not deliver the correct materials. If this happens across several locations, it can be a major setback. But now, you’re wiser for having diagnosed the cause of the problem.

Move up another step in your trajectory to Predictive (forecasting and probabilities).When it’s time for your next retail promotion, you can now plan better with your vendor or distributor to set yourself up for success. You can better predict what might happen, all the while still documenting and diagnosing what actually does happen at the store level. Think of it as a continuous cycle of learning and adjusting.

The next promotion is Prescriptive (optimizing systems). Zenput has dashboard views with historical analysis and reporting functions. Want to know just how well that summer beverage promotion was executed? The data is right at your fingertips. You start to see patterns in your operations, which according to the diagram, can be transformative to your business.

Finally, the ultimate phase of your trajectory is Semantics (social context and perception). Honestly what is the point of this discussion about trends in data analytics? It’s to elevate your brand and deliver the best customer service experience possible. Optimizing internal operations will translate externally to customers.

You know it’s true: customers know when you don’t have your stuff together. This is what damages brands over time. Not to bust on the Golden Arches, but that is one of the areas where McDonald’s has struggled in recent history. Widespread operational inefficiencies began to affect the customer service experience and brand loyalty.

Well that concludes my business theory lesson, and I hope you’ve seen the value of mobile technology and where Zenput fits in the data analytics diagram. Share this post with that person in your organization who needs to see the value of mobile tech in order to believe!

Before I dismiss this class, I’ll leave you with one last word of wisdom, if I may: start somewhere. Start with the technology that’s right in your pocket. Consider mobile technology and how it can improve your data, diagnostic abilities, and planning. Use mobile to your advantage, because if you don’t, a competitor will!

What McDonald’s Needs to Learn from Starbucks’ Mobile App

By David Mostovoy

mcdonalds vs. starbucks.jpgOne of my least favorite phrases is “victim of its own success.” For instance, I remember that was the reason why a popular fireworks show on a riverbank was canceled. It was so popular and drew such large crowds that the police couldn’t handle the public safety demands. It became too costly—a victim of its own success.

I don’t know about you, but if a program is going to fail, I always want it to be an outright flop, not because it’s so popular that the infrastructure needed to make it successful isn’t there. However, that was the headline for Starbucks’ mobile ordering and pay app. By the numbers, 1,200 U.S. Starbucks locations saw a 20% jump in mobile pay and ordering during peak hours, which caused such bottlenecking at the counter, then sales were hampered and foot traffic fell. Let’s just say the spike in traffic got a little too hot for the coffee giant.

But a 20% jump in mobile pay and ordering? It’s an excellent problem to have, if you can handle it! As cited in the Chicago Tribune, a Deloitte study revealed that customer visits in fast-food increase by 6% and spending rises 20% when technology is used to place an order. You can see why more and more chains are pushing for mobile ordering.

When I heard that McDonald’s is about to jump on this bandwagon, I started to feel some mild level of concern. This is a chain that isn’t just preparing coffee, but a number of food items, and some of their problems with execution have, in recent years, been well-documented. But CEO Steve Easterbrook seems to understand the challenge ahead. "We've been very mindful that if we're going to be creating demand, can we meet that demand?" he told CNBC. “Can our kitchens keep up and our managers do a great job? So, we will actually link from end to end as you place your order, and it's integrated into our kitchen operation so we can actually meet the demand that we'll be creating, so we're confident there's no hurdles as we grow our business."

The Chicago Tribune reported on some specific adjustments McDonald’s is making as it tries to regain the 500 million U.S. customers it has lost since 2012, when it phased out the Dollar Menu. Kitchen assembly lines are getting shorter to allow for more volume, while rows of order kiosks are being added to scan phones and bring up personalized orders and custom offers. Parking lot spaces will be dedicated for curbside pickup.

Unlike Starbucks, McDonald’s will incorporate location-tracking technology to notify the kitchen when a customer arrives, and to therefore avoid filing an order too early. McDonald’s app will send a notification to mobile customers once they enter the parking lot, giving them a choice about how they pick up their food, counter or curbside. And perhaps the best feature—I say this as someone who once bought movie tickets for the wrong theater—customers can place an order and pick it up at any McDonald’s location. Now THAT is innovation and communication across a chain!

Meeting Operational Needs

Easterbrook has said mobile pay and delivery, which McDonald’s is also expanding, is about “meeting customers where they are.” I think McDonald’s has also learned it’s about meeting their restaurants’ needs where they are—hence all the preparation and store-level updates. From what has been reported, it doesn’t sound like Starbucks took enough precautionary measures to meet the elevated demand. Something was not measured and planned for correctly.

For McDonald’s specifically, this will come down to kitchen and counter execution because for fast-food, it’s really all about the food. Let’s face it: If you were going on a date, are you choosing the ambiance of Starbucks (and assuming it’s not a peak-hour rush) or a McDonald’s? But hey, maybe you ARE going to McDonald’s because you and your date want to try one of those new fresh burgers they’re cooking up. (In that case, you’ve found a keeper and my advice is to get married at the nearest chapel on the way home.)

But seriously, it all comes down to food and whether the customer wants to return. One thing you can say about McDonald’s: When you thought they were against the ropes, they’ve fought back by embracing new opportunities through technology. I’m rooting them on during their comeback.

Food for Thought

Are you a restaurant operator that’s exploring new technologies, particularly mobile technologies?

Zenput is used in more than 9,000 restaurants worldwide. Every day, we enable multi-unit restaurant operators to gain visibility into store operations by tracking and assigning tasks to store employees, identifying store-level problems, and analyzing location data to better understand employee and restaurant productivity.

Check out some of our mobile forms for restaurant operations, and if you have any questions/comments, feel free to reach out!

Topics: Restaurants

How to Stay on the Winning Side of Digital Disruption

By David Mostovoy

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If your high school was anything like mine, you were required to read the “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens Workbook”.  I feel like this is very much an early 2000s/Millennial experience (we are the gold-sticker, trophy-loving generation after all).

From the Amazon excerpt: “In this interactive volume, teens will find in-depth tools to improve self-esteem, build friendships, resist peer pressure, achieve goals, get along with parents, and strengthen themselves in many other areas.”

I’m a firm believer that there are some things that can’t be taught in a handbook—like the natural ability to get along with people and not be a complete knucklehead. However, I do agree that improving one’s self-esteem, staying on task, and working towards goals do require some skills that can be improved with time and practice. This handbook, and our freshman year course in Leadership, was designed to prepare us to meet the pressures of being in high school and become young adults in—let’s face it—the traditional sense.

As we sat in that class, little did we know that social media platforms would change our lives forever, whether we realized the impact right away or not. The invention of social media platforms was about to majorly disrupt traditional systems. The idea of a 20-year-old digital influencersomeone who could personally reach more people than the CEO of any given companywas about to be a possibility.

If you think about it, social media platforms are “babies” compared to 100-year-old brands that are now suddenly forced to play by the rules of the digital age. This is what’s referred to as the “digital disruption.” Technology came along and threw a major wrench in traditional notions of advertising and networking. Say what you want about their cultural impact, but social networks might be why you’re reading this story on your phone right now! They get the content to the people.

So now a few years into this disruption, everyone has adjusted and is killing it on these exciting new platforms…right?

As it turns out, not so much.

Most Leaders Are Unprepared for Digital Disruption

To study responses and needs in the age of digital disruption, The Global Center for Digital Business Transformation (DBT Center) surveyed more than 1,000 executives across 20 different sectors. This study had “heavyweight” backing as an initiative of IMD business school, Cisco, and HR consultancy metaBeratung.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 92% of the leaders surveyed said they are feeling the effects of digital disruption, with one third rating the impact as “very significant.” Now here’s where it starts to get a bit uncomfortable for us in the mobile tech space:

-> Less than 20% of respondents indicated that digital technologies, such as analytics, mobile and social media, are fully integrated into their organizations.

->Only about 30% of respondents either rarely or only occasionally use digital tools and technologies.

Moment of truth: Are you trying to be a “cool” brand, yet not exploring options in digital?

While you’re in good company, according to this survey, you could be so much more...effective, if I may borrow the word!

Being a Highly Effective Operator

The DBT Center has identified four competencies and three behaviors that business leaders need in the era of digital disruption. (When 4+3 = 7, you can see why this reminded me of my high school workbook.)

I’ll briefly summarize the “HAVE” competencies:

Humble - Own what you don’t know about digital and seek help from inside and outside your organization.

Adaptable – Adapt or die. If you can’t adapt with new technologies, your competitors will take advantage of your weakness.

Visionary – Keep your “eye on the prize.” What is your end goal in becoming more efficient through technology? Navigating digital disruption can be demanding.

Engaged – Not to keep using cliché phrases, but don’t “lose the forest for the trees.” Your vision is important, but engagement—finding out what works and what doesn’t in practice—is how you’ll bring your business to the next level.

If you’re succeeding at the HAVE competencies, DBT calls you an “Agile Leader.” And when it comes to tech, they run circles around non-agile leaders.

According to the survey:

26% of Agile Leaders use digital tools and technologies frequently, compared to just 7% of non-agile leaders.

28% of Agile Leaders use virtual networks and forums

32% of Agile Leaders seek disruptive approaches to deal with challenges.

It takes an Agile Leader to say, “Hey, you know what? Let’s try something new with tech.” However, the smart Agile Leader has done their homework. Nearly half of those Agile Leaders (42%) said they were making more informed business decisions as the result of three behaviors:

  1.  Well-directed data gathering
  2.  Effective analysis
  3.  Good judgment

And logically speaking, they must occur in that order!

Collecting “well-directed” data starts with the right platform that helps you analyze and make better judgments. The right platform can also improve engagement and interaction throughout your organization.

For instance, a mobile app like Zenput encourages managers and store-level employees to communicate about their everyday challenges in real-time through a streamlined platform. Communicate with tasks and forms, and send a photo or video to get your point across faster. Get out of email and create a better chain of accountability than phone or fax.

The 21st century has arrived and with it, so have digital disruptions. Will you resist the change or start using technology to your advantage?

Topics: Business Operations

How to Spot a POS Vulnerability Before It Becomes a Security Breach

By Vladik Rikhter


If you’re a restaurant operator and you haven’t heard of the blog Krebs On Security, definitely check it out. Former Washington Post journalist and self-taught computer security expert Brian Krebs is often the first to break major news about restaurant security breaches.

For instance, in February, Krebs got Arby’s to acknowledge a data breach at its fast-food restaurants. Frankly, the cause is enough to lose your lunch: malware on payment systems once again!In a 2015 interview with Eater, Krebs warned that any restaurant company that uses point-of-sale (POS) systems is vulnerable to attack. POS systems are often set up to be accessed remotely, making them vulnerable to hackers.

As identified by Krebs, other security vulnerabilities with POS systems include enabling the same password for each system and running on outdated operating systems that don’t offer security updates and are simpler to hack. It’s no coincidence that chain restaurants are being hacked with greater frequency; often, several restaurants are linked to one internal system.Now you might be asking (because I definitely did): how a guy like Krebs breaks a story. As it turns out, hacked credit cards are often sold on the black market, usually web forums, and when there’s a major breach, there’s an influx. Krebs then reaches out to banks to see if they’re seeing or hearing anything suspicious. If there’s a pattern, Krebs then reaches out to the suspected chain to confirm whether or not they had a breach. Voila! That’s what led him to Arby’s in February. The company confirmed that it had recently remediated a breach, but had not publicly revealed the incident at the request of the FBI.

Arby’s confirmed that malware was placed on payment systems inside corporate stores, but franchised locations were not affected. In other words, the Arby’s breach was evidence of the vulnerabilities Krebs warned about two years ago!

Learning the Lesson

Here at Zenput, we try to provide our customers with the mobile tools to communicate better about their POS audits as well as possible breaches. We’ve discussed measures to prevent ATM skimming, and we offer a mobile form for audits of payment terminals in stores or at the pump. See below screenshot for an example:

POS audit on mobile

But in the case of Arby’s, they were a victim of a malware attack through their central system. Of course, we’re not privy to the inner workings of Arby’s security system, but you have to hope that they regularly ran updates and that software was updated. Keeping systems updated and making sure employees understand the POS terminal and its functionalities are critical tasks for any restaurant operator. When you create a procedure to protect against physical POS breaches, you can also create a checklist for POS employee training. Security is a team effort and one that’s executed from the top down, so make sure your team is in compliance with best practices. Also make sure they know the right steps to take if a breach is detected. That kind of preparedness can go a long way when recovering from an attack. Arby’s now faces class-action litigation with strong accusations: “The Arby’s Data Breach was the inevitable result of Arby’s inadequate data security measures,” says a credit union suing on behalf of its customers. Arby’s denies those allegations and plans to offer a vigorous defense.

But one company’s struggles are a reminder that any multi-unit restaurant operator is at risk, and it begs—or rather, demands—the question: are you up to date on your security measures?

Topics: Business Operations, C-store, ATM skimming, gas stations

How to Get Your Store’s Litter Problem Under Control

By Brian Harris


I’ve always had great respect for people in custodial services. A family friend emigrated from Europe to start cleaning offices, and another high school friend’s father had a business that cleaned gyms and clubs in New York. In fact, he was allowed to borrow his client’s Lamborghini one day, and drove it to pick up my friend from school. It’s the first and only time—and quite possibly the last—that I’ll sit in a Lamborghini (I barely had my license at the time, so no driving).And why is it that in news stories and movies, the underdogs are always the janitor or custodian? Think of the Columbia University janitor who earned his undergraduate degree after 12 years, and Will Hunting from “Good Will Hunting.” Rooting for the janitor is the American way, and so is respecting the work they do. In other words, clean up your stuff!That’s why I was glad to read this recent NACS article, where the nonprofit organization ‘Keep America Beautiful’ shared some dirt on litter at convenience stores and fast-food restaurants. It turns out that there’s a psychology behind littering - approximately 85% of littering is the result of people’s attitudes. Simply put, people who see litter are more likely to litter. Notably, food packaging from convenience stores and fast-food restaurants makes up 5% of all litter in the United States. However, it accounts for approximately 19% of the “visible” litter stream, or those items that measure more than 4 inches.Time to get the litter situation under control!

‘It’s the Small Trash After All’

Other than the cast of lovable characters, part of Walt Disney’s legacy was how to operate an amusement park with world-class efficiency. He wanted to create the ultimate customer experience—and that included taking out the trash. Trash cans in Disney World are 30 feet apart based on Walt’s personal observation of guests moving throughout the park with food. How often do you go to a store and either can’t find the trash can or you feel like you need a hazmat suit to approach it?A team effort is required to regularly pick up the trash and properly dispose of it in a larger receptacle or dumpster. There must also be a concerted effort to clean up food and beverage trails and traces, lest you attract unwelcome, pesky visitors.If your customers are like the people in my apartment building, your recycling will be overflowing, too, because taking care of the environment is very important to Millennial consumers. And there’s no butts about it—smoking is on the decline, with only about 15% of U.S. adults lighting up in 2015, according to the CDC. So sweep up those cigarette remnants before they become a turn-off to customers thinking about entering the store, especially for foodservice.

Raising the Bar on Cleanliness

Mediocrity is a dangerous place for a brand. If you’re not raising the bar, you’re either operating with a false sense of complacency or on the decline in areas you may not even realize. It’s time to give teeth to the otherwise toothless memo for stores to “clean up their act.”

Distribute mobile forms that track the compliance of basic tasks that can elevate a brand. For example, in the form below, a regional manager would have to answer a 'Yes' or 'No' question about trash being at a reasonable level. Be able to pinpoint the store that keeps getting “no” on this question, or if enough “no” responses are recorded across the region, it might be time to adjust your trash disposal methods and/or pickup schedule.

Also, take note of the option to rate trash levels on a sliding scale. Receive an alert for any store ranked “1” with overflowing garbage. Add a video (or photo) to document the problem. Senior management will be able to see these results in real-time and choose to respond in real-time if they wish. That’s how technology raises the bar - through transparency and accountability.

See more of Zenput’s mobile form examples, and explore the platform’s functionality for convenience stores and restaurants:
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Topics: C-store, cleanliness

How Employees Can Help Prevent Costly Restaurant Repairs

By Vladik Rikhter

Restaurant repair

We recently learned about a Manhattan-based startup that aspires to be the Uber of restaurant repairs. SendaGuy Now targets independent restaurants in New York who are in need of repair and maintenance service. In a savvy move, SendaGuy Now is incentivizing small operators to develop a preventative maintenance schedules by helping restaurants locate quality contractors who can provide important services when required without a service contract.Think about it: if the grill goes out or the refrigerator suddenly stops working on a holiday weekend in the summer, this restaurant is suddenly faced with enormous monetary loss or, worse yet, a possible health risk to customers.

A same-day repair can be costly, so SendaGuy Now can help small operators establish a preventative maintenance schedule based on their specific needs. It averts disaster and ultimately saves money by prolong equipment life.It’s a manageable scenario when a single restaurant knows its specific needs and communicates them through a mobile platform. However, knowing the needs of a dozen, maybe even 100 restaurants in a region, is definitely more challenging. Whether you have on-staff maintenance personnel or have contracted those services with a third-party firm, store-level managers and senior managers need to get on the same page with preventative maintenance.

As SendaGuy Now has helped to identify, these are the common “on-demand” maintenance services:

· Grease traps and exhaust systems (crucial to employee and customer safety)· Commercial kitchen equipment· Fire extinguishers· Fire suppressions systems· Backflow preventers· Refrigeration· Ice machines

So now comes decision time for restaurant chains, and this is what they need to remember: If you don’t have the resources to have a maintenance staff member or third-party contractor doing regular prevention audits, is it possible to have your managers and/or employees pitch in?

It’s more feasible than you think: Sit down with your maintenance staff or pay a third-party contractor to come up with a list of maintenance best practices at each location. See what tasks non-maintenance employees can handle safely, develop those practices into a daily checklist or weekly checklist depending on the need, and distribute those checklists to stores. Forget fax and email which may or may not be received—send the checklist right to your managers’ mobile device and track the response. What Came First: The Preventive Maintenance or the Audit? In restaurant operations, it’s definitely the baseline audit that comes first. Like in any experiment, you need to establish the “control group” before you attempt to test new protocols and procedures.

There are three basic components of a baseline audit:

1. Safety – The health and physical well-being of employees and customers needs to be the No. 1 priority at all times. For instance, let’s find out if there’s hand soap in the kitchen, and let’s get on the same page about kitchen thermometer readings.


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2. General Cleanliness – What defines “clean”? There’s what’s required by law, of course, but there’s also best practices you can implement between shifts, which can be unique to your business and the type of food you serve. Your baseline audit, especially one that requires photos, is going to help you determine those needs.

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3. Staff Guidelines – You can’t hold your staff accountable on what they don’t know. It all starts with senior management developing protocols and management carrying them out at the store level. Then, the only way to know if stores are in compliance is for regional managers, or unbiased store managers, to visit locations and use a checklist/audit form to document their observations. Everyone can have an “off” day or a miscommunication with a new employee. But if a store (or region of stores) is routinely being flagged for poor practices, that’s usually a sign of a bigger management problem that needs to be addressed. For those instances, it’s helpful to have a bird’s eye view and to be able to virtually “check into” a location for better understanding and follow-up.

Zenput puts proactive and preventative maintenance procedures within reach—literally, through mobile audit forms! Learn more about Zenput for restaurants by clicking here.

Topics: Restaurants, repairs