7 Ways Digital Checklists Outperform Restaurant Red Books

Adam C. Lambert Adam C. Lambert Restaurant Operations Strategist
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Digital checklists are quickly becoming the new standard for top-performing restaurants. Not only do they improve employee efficiency and team accountability, but they give management real-time visibility of their stores.

Franchise owners and operators are seeing a direct correlation between using digital checklists and revenue per store. That’s why over 1,300 Chick-fil-A stores use Jolt Software on a daily basis.

Digital checklists use inputs like photos, scoring, and QR codes to offer a more complete picture of what’s accomplished in your store each day. Name, date, and time stamps let management see who’s done what (and at what time) from their phone or computer.

Unlike paper, digital checklists give owners and managers real-time visibility into their stores from anywhere.

Here’s how top-performing restaurant brands are using digital checklists to improve visibility into their restaurants, even when they’re not there.

 

1. E-Signatures Give You Real-time Red Books

Many restaurant owners rely on paper binders (sometimes called red books) to run their stores.

If you’re not familiar, red books offer generic restaurant processes in a spiral-bound notebook that owners can buy, and employees can check off (or initial) as they complete the task.

These books are mailed each month, and are aimed at maintaining an accountability record of critical, repeatable tasks. This includes all opening and closing checklists, digital food safety logs, and restaurant side work.

Instead of initialing these paper notebooks, Jolt allows employees to digitally sign-off on a completed task. Not only will you have that employee’s signature you’ll have the date and timestamp of when that task was completed.

Simply translating your paper process to a digital format provides immediate benefits over restaurant red books.

 

2. See Your Store from Anywhere with Photo-Proof

Restaurant side work can sometimes fall through the cracks, but it’s critical if you intend to run a smooth operation day-after-day.

Photo-proofing daily tasks that employees tend to forget (or ignore) helps create a sense of accountability around that task.

Using photo-proof in Jolt digital checklists, management can see that side work is properly complete, and see who completed each task. In lieu of a red book checkmark, employees will need to take a photo of their completed task to properly “check it off” in Jolt.

This is especially helpful for improving employee accountability around cleaning (eg. kitchen cleaning checklists, side work checklists, etc.).

Adding photo inputs to your restaurant checklists offers a real-time visibility into each location. Owners and managers will be able to see what’s done, and what’s left to do, simply by checking Jolt on their phone or computer.

Using photo inputs in your digital restaurant checklists will instantly improve team accountability to give you a cleaner, more consistent restaurant.

 

3. Guarantee In-Person Checks with QR Codes On-Location

QR Codes—or Quick Response Codes—are similar to barcodes. You scan them with any smartphone or tablet camera, and the information is immediately processed.

In the case of digital checklists with Jolt, QR codes can be printed onto stickers (using the Jolt labeling system), and placed anywhere you want to guarantee an in-person check.

For example, if you’re struggling to get employees to separate the garbage and recycling, put a QR code on each bin.

In order to complete the checklist item “take out the recycling,” employees will need to scan the code located on the recycling bin itself.

QR Codes help realign employee accountability around location-specific tasks in your business. Whether that’s restaurant side work, equipment checks, or ensuring doors are locked, QR Codes are a serious advantage of digital checklists over paper red books.

 

4. Get Daily Metrics with Digital, Numerical Scoring

Using Jolt software, managers can schedule daily sweeps of their stores.

You can use Jolt to score cleanliness, customer satisfaction, stocking, and more.

Jolt’s built-in scoring system will give you a permanent record of manager perceptions each day. These scores provide insights into your customer experience and give you performance metrics across each store.

Simply measuring these scores should cause them to go up, and if you’re using Jolt, you’ll be able to see them improve over time.

 

5. Include Extra Information Using Free Response in Jolt

If you’re looking for a more open-ended response to a daily checklist item, Jolt digital checklists can include text boxes in lieu of a checkmark.

Free responses are often used by management to keep owners in the loop about each of their stores, and give a more complete record of that day’s events.

By allowing for text fields inside a checklist, you’re going beyond the binary of “done” and “not done” offered in red books.

Custom answers provide more visibility to management, so they can make better, more informed decisions each day.

 

6. Digital Checklists Remind Employees of the Details

When completing a digital checklist, there may be a detail you’d like to add, just to ensure employees are reminded of it in the moment.

Jolt uses a “Yes” and “No” button—or toggle—to add those small reminder items to your daily restaurant checklists.

For instance, while performing maintenance on a piece of equipment, you might add, “Is the machine turned off and unplugged?” at the very top of your checklist.

This way, an employee will be prompted to take this action, then tap “Yes” in Jolt before really getting started.

Jolt digital checklists remind employees of those details that management takes for granted, but an inexperienced employee may easily forget.

 

7. Even Checkmarks Are Better with Digital Checklists

If you don’t require the follow-up accountability that a photo or custom entry provides, but still want an item checked off your list, a checkmark will work just fine.

The advantage in ticking a digital checkmark (versus paper) is that name, date, and time stamps are immediately associated with that action in Jolt.

That’s the “built-in accountability” we talk about with Jolt digital checklists. You don’t have to think about it because the information is already there.

Ultimately, digital checklists will add new layers of accountability to your restaurant, and provide management with a thorough record each day.

If you’re looking to improve on red books for a cleaner, faster, and more consistent restaurant, request a demo of Jolt.

We’ll walk you through the 7 Pillars of Restaurant Success, and show you exactly how to achieve these in your store.

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