A football coach constantly watches and reviews his team — each play, each drive, each quarter. The more information he knows about how his team and his competitors work, the more he can customize his plays for success.

In many ways, it’s the same as a QSR owner analyzing data: making adjustments and decisions to boost sales, employee retention, productivity, etc. While this happens constantly, there’s no better time to analyze and adjust than after the first quarter of the year.

Don’t worry. You won’t need to analyze all your data. In fact, here’s three key metrics that may indicate a successful 2018.

Training system metrics

You’ve heard about the importance of having good customer service and ensuring your employees are properly trained. But, how can your Q1 data help you further this goal?

Focus on your training metrics. Training metrics are measured by your brand’s learning system. Make sure your managers are 100% certified for their positions. Check to see if your managers have kept all food safety certifications current (do this early so that you don’t have to deal with it later in the year). If applicable, you should also ensure that your other employees are 100% certified for their jobs. If you find problems in these areas, it’s best to deal with it now before your busy season. This will improve your customer service and put you in a great position for the next quarter.

Managing training metrics can also help you identify staff members who should be in line for promotions. Is your team trainer ready to promote to shift leader and your former shift leader to assistant manager? Identify these opportunities now so you can be ready to promote them before your busiest quarters come.

ICOS/TCOS variance (food cost variance)

Figuring out your food cost metrics can be challenging since sales are traditionally lower during the first quarter. But, it’s still important to track. If you find your company falling behind early in the year and don’t deal with it, your second quarter will be more stressful as you try to make up those lost profits. On the other hand, if you discover that you have good control of this metric now, it shows your team is disciplined and will continue to run a tight ship into the next quarter.

Labor costs/hours/productivity

It’s vital to measure the success of your labor costs. Similar to ICOS, getting good numbers early in the year is difficult. Remember, you may be investing part of your labor into training your staff (if that’s true, good job, you’re ahead of the curve!). But, how much are you investing? When are you planning to get this investment back and how? If you don’t have a clear-cut plan, make one as soon as possible. It’ll keep you on track.

Remember to zero in on your training system metrics, food cost variance, and labor costs. By following these steps, you’ll find areas for improvement and strengths to emphasize that will set you up for a successful year.

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