When Starbucks-veteran Jessica Day started a new position as vice president of people at Gregorys Coffee, a 36-unit chain based in New York City, she began noticing something that bothered her. She would walk into a Gregorys Coffee location, and there would be an employee, in uniform, sitting in a booth with a laptop.
“They would look miserable,” Day says. “And I would think, ‘Wow, it must be their first day.’”
It was something she wanted to change, and did, almost immediately after taking over the responsibility of reforming the company’s culture into something scalable. She credits Gregorys Coffee CEO and founder Gregory Zamfotis for trusting her when it came to ditching the company’s previous LMS and signing a contract and onboarding with Opus, a mobile-first training platform designed for the frontline worker.
The idea in making the switch, Day says, was that frontline team members like baristas should be working with their hands and engaging with their peers from day one. She wanted team members using Opus to watch brief and informative content on how to make certain beverages. Then, moments later, the new hires put what they’ve learned into practice.
This accomplishes several things at once: it helps the store get closer to being fully staffed; it builds up the team member’s confidence by feeling valuable from minute one of their very first shift; it keeps the employee wanting to come back. That last part is key, Day says. Since implementing Opus, Gregorys Coffee has grown its new-hire retention rate. They’ve achieved this simply by moving first-day employees from the booth with a laptop, to behind the bar, foaming milk.
“I genuinely believe that people learn by doing,” Day says. “The restaurant industry has this old-school mentality that you shouldn’t make somebody part of your schedule until they’ve been fully trained. That’s just not the reality that the industry finds itself in right now—when somebody is hiring, there’s a hole in their schedule. It’s not realistic to tell a manager that not only can you not put a new hire on the schedule for five days, but they also need to schedule time to train them.”
In this way, Opus is more a member of the Gregorys Coffee team than it is a series of boxes that must be checked when an employee is onboarded. Opus makes the training process feel more human, Day says, which was the primary basis for her wanting to implement Opus in the first place.
“We want to leverage technology to drive a human connection rather than replace it,” Day says. “Right now, there is a group of restaurant-industry pros who are so talented and forged their identities working with their hands and being physical. And at some point they got told that they needed to introduce tech, but nobody explained why.”
This is another area where Opus thrives: its ease of use for both restaurant leaders and frontline workers. Day says it’s just as easy and intuitive to create instructional videos, or upload photos exhibiting best practices, as it is to quickly watch and absorb them in between making lattes.
“Other platforms I’ve used are incredibly cumbersome on that front,” Day says. “We’re trying to eliminate these pain points that come in the industry and free team members up to have the bandwidth to genuinely and authentically engage with their coworkers and the guests who come in. Opus is playing a central role in that.”
For more, visit the Opus website.
By Charlie Pogacar