How to Achieve Clean Stores: The 7 Pillars of Restaurant Success

Adam C. Lambert Adam C. Lambert Restaurant Operations Strategist
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Why Clean Stores Matter

In a GQ interview from 2015, celebrity chef David Chang recounted his father’s insistence on seeing a restaurant’s bathrooms before committing to a meal there.

He believed a clean bathroom was the ultimate measure of a clean store.

“My father worked in restaurants for thirty years," said Chang, "so he would always look at the bathrooms first. It told him volumes about the establishment.”

Chang is a major advocate for team accountability.

Nearly every job posting for his restaurant group (Momofuku) uses the word “accountable” when referencing his restaurants policies and procedures—especially around cleanliness.


The Hard Data on Restaurant Cleanliness

The data supports Mr. Chang’s anecdote.

75% of consumers will not visit or patronize a restaurant with negative reviews about its cleanliness.

(That’s before they’ve even stepped in the door.)

81% of females would not visit a restaurant with reported cleanliness issue.

And 29% of consumers said they would only visit an unclean store if it was “absolutely necessary.”

Mr. Chang understood what we all inherently know about restaurant cleanliness.

“If I have the person cleaning the toilet caring about doing it the right way—then rest assured everything else will be taken care of.”


Cleanliness is an Accountability Issue

As restaurant owners and managers, you know that cleanliness is a direct manifestation of employee accountability.

If an employee feels a responsibility to accomplish the duties of his or her job, they’ll do it.

If not, they’ll let ignore their duties and you’ll quickly have a dirty store that affects your bottom line.

It’s not that you don’t have a plan to clean your store. It’s simply a matter of getting employees to execute their work.

To improve employee execution, you’ll need to change the context around accountability in your store.

For this, you’ll need to measure daily duties, and know who’s responsible for what.


Trusting Your Checklists

Back of house generally has one of these things present: a clipboard, a binder, a whiteboard, or loose paper.

They’re checklists that employees use every day to accomplish their repeated tasks. These can be cleaning checklists, food safety checklists, kitchen cleaning checklists, and so on.

While they certainly provide a resource for employees to reference, they give managers and owners little visibility into what’s been done.

Even with employees signing for their work, managers must trust that the checklist reflects what’s actually been done, and that it's up to date.

Ultimately, restaurant owners and managers can’t rely on a paper checklist to ensure employee accountability.


How to Get Visibility Into Daily Tasks

With paper, you’ve got no overarching visibility into how you’re accomplishing these BOH tasks over time, and you’ve hardly got a record that they’ve been done.

Instead of limiting yourself to paper, introduce a digital checklist solution to your team that gives managers and owners visibility, and keeps perfect records to help you pass inspections.

If you’re not familiar, digital checklists are simply a conversion of your daily operations from paper to a digital software platform.

By moving from paper to digital, you’ll have the ability to see into your business from anywhere.

Employees can input photos, signatures, ratings, temperatures, and more straight from their phone or your store’s tablet.


An example of photo-proof in a Jolt digital checklist.


When a task is completed, Jolt will automatically assign a name and timestamp to that item showing who did it, and when.

Digital checklists are not only accessible, they give you a level of visibility you never thought possible.


Digital Checklists Are The Next Great Advantage

Digital checklists help you see a fuller picture of what’s going on in your store.

This is especially true for owners with multiple locations.

They’re able to see checklist completion rates across stores, know that temperatures are in range, even keep an eye on store cleanliness.

Multi-location restaurant owners are adopting digital checklists not only for visibility, but competitive advantage.

An owner using digital checklists and digital food safety will simply have more information to use when making decisions about the business.

They’ll understand what they’re good at, and what they can improve, store-by-store.

That’s why Chick-fil-A—the leader in revenue per store—has over 1,300 locations using Jolt every day.

Despite being closed on Sunday’s, Chick-fil-A outperforms even the biggest brands when it comes to revenue per location.

There’s undeniably a competitive advantage to moving from paper to digital checklists.


How to Switch from Paper to Digital Checklists

Moving from paper to digital checklists will be more of a behavioral change than a technical one.

If you’ve got spreadsheets already created, you can bulk import them into a digital checklist solution like Jolt.

The real change comes when employees are required to take a photo of the drink station rather than just initial that it’s taken care of.

This change in context around accountability will immediately improve employee execution.

Realizing that you can see all the checklists (even when you’re not at the store) will add a layer of accountability to those daily duties—especially for younger employees.

If you’re curious exactly how Jolt would work in your restaurant, retail store, or service environment, request a free demo here.

We’ll walk you through the 7 Pillars of Restaurant Success and help you identify precisely what to improve in your store, and do everything we can to help you get there.

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