Organic Krush provided increased benefits and boosted hourly rates by $2 per hour, and was among the first to do so. What inspired the decision, and how was it received and implemented? How did you handle staffing? Did the company need to furlough workers?
As mentioned, we decided to fight to stay open. We knew that how we would handle this crisis would define us when come out. We saw this as an opportunity, but also felt we could help our crew and guests through this through health and wellness. Also, our people are at the core of what we do. They know our guests by name and are what makes up our tribe! We asked who would prefer not to work during this crisis and several part timers volunteered to take time off so we could redistribute those hours. Most of those have returned today. We stopped scheduling crew at multiple locations, so everyone got a "home store.” We created four-day work weeks for managers and consecutive days off for stability and quality time with family. We also did a weekly photo contest where our crew and their families could submit pictures of "best home cooked meal," or "fighting boredom,” "how you stay fit," and "me and my pet.”
The top three got picked every week by executive team and received an Amazon Gift-card in the mail. Our leadership team and hourly crew were very happy and thankful about how this has been handled and we know we grew our relationship because of this with crew and guests.
What were some other examples of support, such as four-day work weeks and free meals?
The four-day work week was a way to provide balance for our crew, so that they could take the other three days to be proactively healthy: be with their families, cook healthy food, do their errands, get great sleep. Free meals are always a part of our crew's day, but during COVID we added in a free cold pressed juice and wellness shot, in order to amplify the amount of nutrients they were taking in; when you flood your system with vitamin C and ginger and greens, for example, viruses have much less of a chance of staying alive; those nutrients enhance the immune reaction and help stave off illness. We also encouraged walk breaks in the sunshine (vitamin D is a huge immune strengthener) and we sent out weekly newsletters sharing bit and pieces of health coaching and lifestyle advice.
Also, elaborate on the COVID contact tracing and decision to plant one executive in each store to not cross contaminate.
When we realized in early March that this virus might be here to stay for a while, we wanted to ensure support at all the stores. Each executive, from HR to Ops to Owners to Construction, took a restaurant and made it their own; this helped with communication and morale, and allowed us to be separate from each other (usually we meet daily but rotate among all the stores), so that should one of us get sick we would not affect another location. Did I mention we never once closed, not even for a day?
What are some other ways the brand cut costs to stay afloat?
We unplugged appliances that weren't being used, turned off excess lighting (customers weren't coming into stores), limited trash pick-ups, re-negotiated some contracts and monthly expenses, managed food costs very closely, and cut hours of operations by a couple hours. We also started other ways of generating revenues through hospital meal delivery, grocery delivery and delivering "survival kits.”
How has COVID inspired recent innovation? It sounds like the brand was an early adopter of some now common lifelines, like HEPA filters and touch-free pay devices.
COVID inspired an even greater level of team work and communication. We had a daily ops call at 8 a.m. each day, discussing what we were reading and seeing as the most effective ways to manage a virus and person to person interactions. Viruses have always been around, and will continue to be around, and Krush has always placed a high emphasis on the ground rules of sanitation: hand washing, table and chair wipe downs, open doors for air circulation, and encouraging our crews to take great care of their health via clean food, sunshine, vitamin supplements, and sleep. Definitely things like HEPA filters and touchless pay will stay around, as they enhance the customer experience. We are also working on an exciting new APP that launches this fall. But overall, the fundamentals of health are what get us excited to be contributing to our crew's lives and our guests' lives.
What enabled Organic Krush to remain nimble and stay ahead of the curve?
You've never met a team like ours—compassionate, experienced, thoughtful, great listeners, true team players. We are open with each other, and share what we know and what we are learning on a daily basis.