In our last post, we outlined all of the reasons you should consider using digital checklists at your restaurants if you aren’t already. To recap, the big benefits include: increased efficiency, more customizability, decreased pencil whipping and human error, and the capability for owner-operators to monitor multiple locations.
Once you’ve decided to make the move to digital checklists, the next important step is choosing the best product. And no matter the exact product you ultimately choose, features like corrective action triggers, photo reporting, and easy customization are key to success. Read on for our full list of important features:
1. Effortless customization
You know better than anyone that your franchise restaurants are not exact duplicates of each other. The differences in each store will require customizations in the tasks that make up a checklist. For example, if one store has one gender-neutral, family-friendly bathroom while another has 2 larger restrooms with stalls, these bathroom cleaning checklists will be made up of different tasks.
But, making these changes based on each store’s specifications shouldn’t mean any extra work for you. The right digital checklist solution should make the implementation of these changes really simple. Or better yet, choose a product offering where support is included and does this work for you, upon request.
2. Intuitive interface
Switching to digital checklists should make life easier for you and your employees. But it could actually do the opposite if the interface of the tool you choose is complicated and requires employee training time. Food Safety Magazine put it best: “Efficiency depends on a well-designed app...users [can] spend so much time managing the app that they’re not managing the checklist.”
The checklist’s interface should be familiar and convenient for employees at every level to use. Ideally, employees should be able to adjust to the software after just a day or two of using and then, actually look forward to the simplicity of the tool when completing their tasks.
In fact, the right checklist solution should be simple and convenient enough to reduce the number of employees it usually takes to complete the documentation of tasks.
3. Corrective action triggers
Through the customization process, your digital checklist provider should allow you to set standards for each task: “this task should only be marked complete if temperature reading is below 41 degrees”.
If an employee completes a task that does not match the standards you’ve set, the checklist system should have the capability to prompt a corrective action. Until the employee has gone back in to complete the corrective action and meet the original standards you’ve set for the task, the system should not mark the task as “complete”.
4. Visibility into completed tasks
Just because you can’t be at every store, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have visibility into every store. The right checklist solution will have built-in reporting tools that allow you to virtually oversee each completed task and manage your franchise remotely.
The ability to add a photo and signature to a task creates real accountability and visibility. When an employee marks a cleaning task as “complete”, the owner-operator would have the option to look into the task and review the attached photo, able to check-in and monitor the quality of the task.
5. Good reporting
Any digital checklist solution worth your time should have strong reporting capabilities. With a multi-unit restaurant franchise, you’ll need a quick and accurate way to check in on each store. You’ll need an easily accessible dashboard that shows how each store is performing and completing checklist tasks.
These reports should be practical and accessible while you’re on the go. Depending on the day, a report may need to be reviewed quickly on a phone or more in-depth at an office computer. The product should have a compatible app or online dashboard that works with your schedule and allows you to stay in touch while on the go.
And naturally, other days will be too busy to remember to check in at all. A good digital product should set up daily email reports, giving you the peace of mind that it’s there when you get around to it.
This flexible visibility will decrease the need and tendency to micromanage, saving both your’s and your employees’ time.
6. Customer support
Ideally, you’d want a digital checklist solution that’s always smooth-running and easy to use 100% of the time. But as with any technology, there’s always a chance a system can hiccup.
When and if you run into any issues, you’ll want a responsive, helpful team on your side that minimizes downtime. Make sure the platform you choose offers a serious customer support team that’s always accessible, responds quickly, and knows exactly how to solve your problems. A team that’s available from 9-5 probably won’t cut when an employee calls in at 11 PM with a time-sensitive issue.