Whether in the front of the house or back of the house, every restaurant has its own specific processes and procedures. Ask any restaurant worker and no doubt, they can rattle off a long list of opening and closing duties.
At Slim Chickens—which serves fresh, made-to-order chicken tenders, sandwiches, wings, sides, salads—this entails everything from prepping house-made sauces and signature desserts each morning, to taking out the trash and cleaning restrooms at closing time.
For most of the brand’s 20 years of operation, Slim Chickens, like most restaurants, used paper checklists to organize and track tasks. This method, however, is riddled with problems. “Handwritten checklists are a dated technology and today’s managers are accustomed to using devices, so it makes sense that we provide solutions they are comfortable working with,” says Chris Patterson, vice president of training and development for Slim Chickens. “With paper checklists, it is much more difficult to keep them updated and current in restaurants. Then there are the age-old questions; do I keep them? Where do I keep them? In a file cabinet? It's 2023. Our file cabinet is online now.”
In 2022, the Slim Chickens team made the switch to digital checklists. Since making the switch, Slim Chickens has found endless ways to utilize a checklist solution within their LMS platform with Wisetail. That checklist solution is OnTrack—an interactive checklist solution that provides a modern digital solution to the age-old problem of messy paper checklists.
“We can house the documents for as long as we need to maintain tracking and compliance. Hand-written checklists are very easy to pencil whip, and it becomes a challenge to hold people accountable, not only for timely completion, but creating action plans for improvement. With OnTrack, follow-up becomes very easy,” says Patterson.
OnTrack’s digital checklists can be customized to a brand’s specific operational tasks, such as opening and closing the restaurant. Team members use the checklist as they are working to make sure they don’t miss steps and no tasks are overlooked. OnTrack’s mobile-first interface, which includes access to a companion mobile app, allows team members to access checklists from anywhere inside the store.
Once the checklist is complete, users can create tags to assign tasks, deadlines, and action steps to individual users. The platform also serves as a method of documentation of Slim Chickens’ incident reports. It provides additional insight into every restaurant’s operation. Slim Chickens was an early OnTrack adopter and has since worked with creator Wisetail to evolve the learning technology.
“We wanted to use it as an operational assessment tool that our field team could use to verify standards and execution across the brand,” Patterson says. “Now we can score how well our restaurants are meeting our standards, whether that is with fresh food, friendly service, or clean restrooms. It gives operators a clear picture of how they are aligning with our standards.”
Team members and managers can upload images, videos, and other media to notify colleagues if something is not up to par. Conversely, the tool can be used to recognize team members who are doing an exemplary job. In addition to OnTrack, Slim Chickens uses every other aspect of the Wisetail learning management platform including team member onboarding, initial and ongoing training, reporting, and document housing.
“Our cornerstone principles are simple: a clean environment, hot food hot, execute with no excuses, and fast, friendly service,” Patterson says. “Assigning tasks holds people accountable and gets everyone aligned with what our brand expectations and standards are, which builds a culture of consistency. OnTrack is a much more robust tool than we ever envisioned.”
By Davina van Buren