The Operations Execution Gap: New research shows restaurant chains struggling to connect strategy to store-level experiences (Part 1 of 4)

By David Mostovoy

This is part 1 of our 4-part blog series discussing the results of our restaurant industry research survey. Stay tuned in the coming weeks to learn about our findings regarding food safety, marketing promotions, and brand standards.


Restaurant operators know that the key to delivering great and consistent customer experiences is executing on the operating procedures that they design for their stores. But a new research survey by Zenput found that restaurant operators are struggling to ensure that their stores are executing.

The result? At best, inconsistent or subpar customer experiences. At worst, a nightmare food safety incident that can damage a brand’s image for years.

Here’s an infographic that summarizes our findings. Let’s dig into the numbers.

70% of operators say store compliance with operating procedures is a primary obstacle in achieving a consistent customer experience. Procedures like food safety audits, brand standards assessments and marketing promotion verifications are crucial to ensure every customer’s experience is the same at each location. Without these procedures being executed consistently, a brand’s image can suffer.

Perhaps no responsibility for a restaurant operator is greater than maintaining food safety. On that front, only 50% of restaurant operators were confident in their ability to identify food safety concerns before they become serious issues. It was then not surprising that only 1 in 4 respondents believed that more than 95 percent of their stores were in compliance with food safety protocols, with 22 percent estimating that less than 75 percent of their stores were in compliance, which seems to indicate a general feeling of vulnerability in the industry.

Why can’t operators get their stores to comply with their operating procedures? 1 in 3 operators said they don’t have “very clear visibility” into individual restaurant compliance. And only 18% say they are able to “very quickly” able to identify store-level issues. Once store-level issues are identified, 2 out of 3 respondents say it takes anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks to address those issues.

That means problems at stores often linger for days without resolution, which can have a serious effect on the customer experience. But restaurant operators know these execution problems exist and they say that they’re doing something about them.

Both corporate brands and franchisees say they’re planning to invest in technology solutions for store tasks, audits, employee training, and inventory tracking. And over 90% say that they are either already using mobile technology today to enable their store operations, or have plans on doing so in the near future.

Check out the full infographic here!

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