Lean Practices are Being Adopted Across Industries: Hospitality and Restaurant

The emergence of the digital age along with the ever-increasing expectations of customers is driving the need for agility and growth in the Hospitality and Restaurant Industry. To achieve this, lean best-practices are being implemented across these industries to optimize processes, cut waste, maximize labor potential, and provide customers with quicker and better service, more choices and new experiences.

When the term lean is thrown around, most still think in terms of its roots in manufacturing. But, those same best-practices that help streamline assembly lines can and have been tailored to many other industries as well. And, it’s much more transformational than just cutting employee headcount or dialing back services. In fact, in most-cases, it’s quite the opposite.

The emergence of the “Grocerant” is a perfect example of how lean practices can free up resources and shift the focus from simply transactional, to experiential. Companies like Wegman’s have been applying lean methods for years…

“Wegman’s wouldn’t be able to achieve their level of success, superb-service and experiences without their daily focus on improvement and perfection through tried and true lean principles.” Says, Jeff Peretin of the Connors Group. “It’s never been about cutting headcount or eliminating anything other than what doesn’t make sense to Wegman’s, it’s employees and customers.”

What works?

It’s still about creating and implementing engineered labor standards, improving process and doing time studies, but it’s what’s being done with that information and data that matters…

“We’ve become increasingly involved with space planning and design”, says Andrew Taylor, Senior Director at Connors Group. “We can garner a lot of information by observing details like table and seat utilization. The right design and planning can increase the speed-of-service, and table-turn, without compromising the experience.”

At the end of the day, the goal is to serve time-strapped customers and consumers with the same speed and efficiency from online competitors. Using lean methods to create an atmosphere that can meet or beat those expectations all while encouraging customers to linger longer and spend more is a win for everyone.

Restaurants Move Toward Labor Precision.

There is a new trend in the restaurant industry that I am particularly excited about; food service is beginning to make the transition into engineered labor models, where traditionally labor has been calculated as a % of sales.

Quick service restaurant companies have been working with engineered labor standards (ELS) for some time. Consider that quick service restaurants are essentially mini-manufacturing facilities with light service involved. It makes sense that their model would involve ELS given the need for very efficient, best method production.

We are now seeing table service move into this area, as they are recognizing the compelling value proposition in using an activity-based labor model to provide a more precise and robust mechanism to drive efficient and effective restaurant labor.

If you think about it, table service restaurants are two business models combined — manufacturing in the back-of-house, and specialty retail in the front-of-house. The kitchen focuses on speed, consistency, best methods, and efficiency, while the front focuses on guest service and guest experience.

Given all the options available to consumers, coupled with wage and other cost pressures on food service operators, consistent efficient execution with high service standards is absolutely required to maintain competitiveness and stay profitable in this industry. A labor model based on engineered labor standards is the best way to achieve this.

Very excited to see this gaining traction. I will continue to provide updates on this topic.