There are different visit types in the RVT app. There’s a specific check-in with LTO launches, for example. There’s one for food safety. Another for speed of service.
Church’s beta-test for the Remote OER application completed in September and rolled to the domestic system by mid-October. It reached all international markets the following month. That latter point is important because it’s enabled Church’s leaders to check in on franchisees without hopping on long plane flights.
There are benefits to the remote OER beyond social distancing. Berg says it’s unlocked the ability for Church’s to gently steer market leaders through visits; what they should inspect, measure, coach, look for in every restaurant. While it can’t (and won’t) replace in-store visits down the line, there’s more transparency, in some ways, throughout the organization with these since executives can join from wherever.
“We are driving engagement of our market leaders and tapping into them and making sure that they’re feeling good about what they’re doing,” Berg says.
In shorter visits, Church’s can’t look at every facet as it might before, but the reality is it doesn’t need to. It can return a lot easier, so there’s less pressure to knock every aspect out at once. “We’re really focused on those that are hot right now,” Berg says. “COVID-19, health and safety, [recently launched] chicken sandwich, and we’re looking at that in a close way”
So far, Berg adds, Church’s has observed stronger engagement. Market leaders and coaches used to only get one, maybe two of these in a typical workshift. Now, in some cases, they’re conducing four visits. Even five. “They’re getting multiple touch points completed in a day,” Berg says.
The action plan element has been one of the biggest adds. In the past, when Church’s had lackluster or inconsistent performance, Berg says, it stemmed from store-level operations getting overwhelmed or unfocused, and not seeing a clear path forward. It doesn’t get much more streamlined than the digital version available today. The remote OER action plan is completed electronically. Berg says Church’s enjoyed high completion rates thus far—more than 95 percent of restaurants are submitting action plan progress.
Church’s presents a “forever action plan,” in some cases, which offers long-term, systemic fixes. In other terms, improvements that can be made methodically over time. Then there’s a “fix-it-now” plan that ranks imminent needs and puts a 24–48-hour timeline in place.
Based on the grade of the visit, Church’s will chart its follow-up. A great score could stretch the next digital drop-in to a month. Something lower will likely trigger a call in a week or two.
“And that’s more of a lifeline to that restaurant to say, hey, looks like you’re challenged and you need a little bit more help,” Berg says. “Maybe it’s lower turnover. Who knows what the reason might be. But that level of support, I know our franchisees are really finding beneficial. And I believe the restaurants team is as well.”
The remote OER gives market leaders a chance to view restaurant’s performance in a fresh way, in a moment in time. The goal being to guide restaurants back to what they should be doing on a daily basis and take stock of what’s impacting the guest experience.
“Those guests when they visit our restaurant, if they’re not seeing masks, if they’re not seeing gloves, if they’re not seeing hand sanitizer and sanitation happening, there’s alarm bells going off,” Berg says of life during coronavirus. “And they leave comments about that. Our market leaders should also be looking for those things and when they don’t see those things, the silent alarm should be going off and they should be taking action.”
“So the remote OER not only helps with what’s happening with COVID-19 health and safety, but also the things that are core to our brand,” he adds. This encompasses everything from delivering honey butter biscuits in the proper way to uniform appearance to speed of service and friendliness. The remote OER and its potential frequency pushes people toward daily focus, Berg says.
The OPS 360 tablet, in particular, has streamlined efforts. It’s taken Church’s paper management planner, what it calls “the manager planner,” or tables and checklists and waste logs, etc., and digitized them. Now, there’s a one-stop shop checklist in every restaurant.
The OPS 360 creates a routine for managers throughout a day. It will tell them, at specific times, which tasks should get completed. Say at 8 a.m. when the manager walks in the door, they’ll turn on the equipment and see it’s time to start prep, and so on. At 9, it prompts cleaning tasks, stocking. By the time guests walk in, OPS 360 has directed a manager through the entire process, as corporate laid out to ensure consistency across all 1,500 units.
“It really organizes the day of the manager to open what they should be doing at the right time. It’s great for the managers,” Berg says. “Church’s really providing them a roadmap to success.”
It all blends. From the remote OER action-plan items (fix it forever and fix it now), Church’s can go in and actually create an item in the OPS 360 routines for managers.
Going back to the handwashing example—now, the tablet will ask the manager to, for instance, take a video of a team member washing their hands and to do so for the next two weeks.
The market leader and RGM agreed to the plan. It’s then embedded right inside the OPS 360 routine system. What this does is take a playbook and bring it to life.
These systems won’t replace the in-person visit, however. Church’s hopes to start going back to restaurants in 2021. When exactly, though, Berg isn’t sure. Yet when Church’s does so, it’s going to implement a hybrid approach. What this might look like is a live visit, perhaps four or five hours, then the remote OER will come in a couple of weeks afterward for a check-in. For high-performing units, executives might not need to return for a whole year. They can just keep using remote OERs to track progress.
“That will save time,” Berg says. “That will save money. It will save effort.”
“I’m excited about bringing the remote OER as a strong visit type in our portfolio of visits and I think it’ll be more effective,” he adds. “We’ll be able to follow up much quicker, much easier, and I think we’ll have stronger execution and ultimately better results and higher performance of our restaurant teams.”