Do Your Operations Need to be Re-optimized?

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Dining out is a great way to have a relaxing evening with friends. There are no cooking and no mess to clean up afterward. My expectations are no different from others who love dining out: good food and service. Last week’s experience at a local restaurant was a test for patience. Our group of three were seated shortly after 6 p.m. While we enjoyed our conversation over a glass of wine, we were wondering when our food would come. An hour later, two of the entrees came. By then, we were feeling a little antsy. The third entree didn’t come for another 10 minutes.

As it turned out, the restaurant has been experiencing high demand for take-out orders. The popularity with food delivery services such as DoorDash, Foodora, and Uber Eats has generated an upswing for take-outs. In order to meet the committed delivery time, the kitchen has put more focus on take-out orders. Subsequently, orders for dine-in customers are bumped. This turns into poor service for walk-in customers.

While it is normal for a business to experience changing demands, it is important to monitor the impacts and make adjustments accordingly. When Starbucks launched its mobile order app a couple of years ago, the jump in mobile orders caused a few hiccups. Mobile orders weren’t ready for pickup within the committed time and in-store customers experienced long line-ups. Starbucks made several adjustments along the way including introducing mobile order pick-up shelves, dedicated staff assigned to handle mobile orders, and drive-thru for order pick-ups. Ultimately, the rollout of labour deployment 2.0 as Starbucks called it, was most effective. The initiative looked at staff capacity, work tasks, product mix sold at the location, and other factors to optimize work assignment. It was a thorough evaluation of operations with focus on throughput and customer service. The improvements were notable and customers are happy.

Does your business require a review of the current operations? Symptoms to look for include persistent bottlenecks, overworked employees, constant firefighting, and growing customer dissatisfaction. If so, it might be time to explore optimization. By gathering relevant data, you can determine the root causes and study the inter-dependencies across work activities. With the information, you can test different options and see what would be the best approach to optimize operations.

Refinement might be necessary as you roll out changes, but these changes are based on solid data. They are informed decisions which you can verify their effectiveness and make adjustments. Juggling people’s work and hiring more people are short-term solutions. In order to implement sustainable improvements, you need to do a more thorough evaluation to re-optimize operations that once were efficient and adequate.

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