Chipotle is taking its food-safety protocol mobile. The fast casual announced September 20 that it has deployed Zenput, the platform used by Domino's, KFC, Jersey Mike’s, and 7Eleven, at its more than 2,450 units nationwide to “ensure every location adheres to standards, procedures and initiatives in order to deliver a consistent guest experience,” the company said in a release.
Chipotle said it was searching for a mobile solution that would support its auditing processes ranging from daily restaurant checks to monthly performance evaluations to new menu introductions. In the wake of Chipotle’s latest food-safety flare-up—a July closing of a Powell, Ohio, restaurant that resulted in more than 600 people reporting illnesses, new CEO Brian Niccol said Chipotle would retrain all of its employees. This included an online knowledge assessment and quarterly updates.
Zenput helps operators remotely evaluate and track all aspects of the restaurant and ensure food-safety protocols and overall operations are documented.
“By making it easier for restaurant managers and field leaders to perform audits and document corrective actions, Zenput is enabling them to shift their attention to restaurant crew member coaching and giving them the tools to ensure any issues are tracked and closed-out promptly,” the release said.
Leaders can use the app as a checklist for Chipotle’s food-safety standards, everything from the temperature issues that plagued the Powell store to hand washing and keeping sick employees from contaminating food, as was the case in previous norovirus issues. The closing of a Sterling, Virginia, store in 2017 was believed to be caused by an employee coming to work sick and not following Chipotle’s protocols.
"Our ability to deliver a consistent guest experience in all our restaurants is a direct function of how closely our employees follow our standards and processes,” added Scott Boatwright, chief restaurant officer at Chipotle. “Zenput gives our field leaders clear visibility into restaurant operations and trends so they can focus their coaching efforts and improve overall accountability.”
Zenput’s mobile platform will also assist Chipotle with product launches. For example, when rolling out chorizo recently, the chain used Zenput by having restaurant managers complete a pre-launch readiness checklist. Field leaders can then evaluate the restaurants’ execution of the roll out in Zenput.
"Restaurant operators invest heavily in operating procedures and planning key initiatives but rolling them out and ensuring compliance is non-trivial," said Vladik Rikhter, CEO of Zenput, in a statement. "Our work with Chipotle is another example of how industry leading brands are leveraging our mobile technology to see inside and improve the operations of every location to exceed customer expectations."
Chipotle’s same-store sales lifted 3.3 percent this past quarter. Revenue upped 8 percent to 2.4 billion thanks to the opening of 34 new restaurants.