A balancing act – how to reduce staff levels without making customers wait longer

15th June 20

Getting the balance right on efficiency and colleague time is essential to deliver your brand experience in an ever more competitive environment. The reward for getting it right is an increasing customer base and an efficient operating model. The converse is a downward spiral of disappointed customers and a chase to the bottom on costs and quality.

We’ve worked on productivity projects with full service restaurants and quick serve, grab and go outlets. Whatever the size and model, all hospitality brands have three questions that indicate if their colleague and cost balance is right or not.

    1. What is your customer promise? This has to be your start point and everything you do must be designed to deliver your promise. Is it a cup of coffee as quickly as possible before a customer dashes for their train? Or a warm welcome and table service with a smile? Getting this right goes beyond just looking at resource levels – it takes the right recruitment, retention, training and leadership to deliver the brand promise. But if you don’t understand what operating model is required to deliver your promise, you will disappoint at least some of your customers
    2. What happens when your business is busiest? Your biggest opportunity to grow sales is at peak times when customer demand is highest. Anything you do to improve customer throughput at that time will be great news for your customers (shorter queues and reliable service) and for your business revenue. ReThink have helped brands understand if their resource levels are optimised to meet demand and identified process improvements to increase capacity. We’ve helped coffee outlets increase their peak capacity by 25% by improving the workstation layout and deploying the right machines to support the colleagues. Common problems causing mismatch resources is the wrong mix of full-time and part-time colleagues, creating a flatter resource profile than the business opportunity profile, and mis-planning of breaks so that colleagues are not available when the customers need them most
    3. What happens when your business is quietest? This is when you should get essential tasks completed as efficiently as possible on skeleton colleague cover. Where we’ve seen too few colleagues at peak, we tend to see too many off-peak. This creates a scenario of wasted time and tasks being completed at a slow pace as there is just no point getting them done any faster

Ask yourself these three questions and you will get an indication of whether your balance is right or not. And consider undertaking some productivity and efficiency measurement to help you put a financial value on your opportunities for growth and cost saving.