Jason Tober
Blog, Operational Efficiency

You hear a lot about how store-level employees – team members, shift runners, and store managers – have a direct impact on the customer experience. But the most effective QSRs owe their success to skill at all levels, from new team member to restaurant owner, and everywhere in between. When it comes to the nitty-gritty of QSR effectiveness, the above-store leader (also known as a field leader) is often overlooked – yet their unique position allows these leaders to have a surprisingly effective impact on speed of service. Here are four ways an above-store leader can improve your QSR’s speed of service.

Making the most of big data

From building your brand to driving sales to optimizing your menu boards, we talk a lot about “big data” – and for good reason. By collecting information from every point in the QSR lifecycle, from customer experience to inventory to sales and marketing, you can gain new insights and use them to optimize every aspect of your restaurants. In an environment as competitive as QSRs, big data empowers you to succeed – and no one is in a better position to utilize that data than above-store leaders.

Because they have oversight over multiple restaurants while still being on the frontlines, above-store leaders are uniquely positioned to look at data from multiple stores and share insights between them. Here are a few examples:

  1. Analyze speed of service between stores at different points of the day.
  2. Identify the most productive employees, who can share their experience between stores (more on that later).
  3. Compare like stores to find commonalities.
  4. Contrast non-like stores to identify different approaches.
  5. Understand business trends, like peak hours or year-over-year fluctuations.
  6. Share weekly summaries with store managers who can use that information to implement store-level improvements and motivate their employees.

Store managers can also analyze store data but have limited influence on other stores. Administrative and executive positions have a more holistic view of multiple stores but can lack the frontline experience to effectively implement those insights. Above-store leaders have the best of both worlds.

Approving schedules

Restaurant management 101: scheduling takes time. A lot of time. Wouldn’t it be nice for store managers to spend less time approving schedules and more time doing . . . anything else? Wouldn’t that potentially lead to improved speed of service?

By having visibility into schedules for multiple stores simultaneously, above-store leaders can approve schedules more efficiently than shift runners and store managers. The in-store leaders will still need to know the details about their schedules, especially when it comes to variance – but shifting the approvals to a more centralized role allows above-store leaders to give valuable time back to shift runners and store managers, who can use that time to focus on improving speed of service.

Additionally, having above-store leaders approve schedules is especially helpful in managing team members who work multiple stores; an above-store leader can easily monitor for coverage, overtime, and other common scheduling concerns with floating team members.

Ranking performance

When it comes to identifying top performers across multiple stores, no one is better positioned than an above-store leader. Each individual store has its top team members (who are hopefully being recognized for their efforts via an incentive program), but a field leader can easily pick out the overall top performers across each of your stores.

Identifying top performers across stores can improve speed of service in a number of ways. You should already be making sure the best team members are being recognized, which improves employee retention rates. Above-store leaders can take this a step further and implement competitions between stores, with rewards for speed and quality, for example. Field leaders can really make employee recognition stand out by bringing top-performing stores and team members into a bigger spotlight.

Top performers in one store can then share their experience with other stores, which can create a snowball effect of employee best practices – with the best ideas in one store becoming common practice for all your stores. And perhaps most importantly, identifying top performers across stores is a great way to find potential future store leaders, who will continue to drive innovation and optimize speed of service in the future.

Getting their hands dirty (literally)

With visibility to employee, sales, inventory, and other data on multiple stores, above-store leaders can see exactly when and where each individual store is in the red. While that’s good information on its own, field leaders can go a step further and visit those stores during the times they need it most. There’s often no better way to identify pain points and process improvements than when you’re in the trenches during a dinner rush.

By pitching-in directly, above-store leaders can see firsthand each store’s individual struggles. If one store has an innovative solution, field leaders can share it with other stores. If there’s an issue that needs to be addressed through technology or a corporate-level process change, this is a great way for store managers to share that information with leaders.

And don’t underestimate the impact simple face-time has on restaurant performance. The simple act of an above-store leader rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty can have an inspiring effect on in-store employees. Seeing leaders demonstrate their willingness to help out in a pinch shows team members that leadership is truly invested in their work, which in turn has a demonstrable effect on individual team members’ speed of service (and as an added bonus, also improves employee engagement and retention).

Above-store leaders are a versatile tool in the QSR arsenal: they have the skills of a team member, the authority of a store manager, and the oversight of a leader. This unique set of skills and responsibilities enables field leaders to gather and develop insights that might otherwise go unnoticed and to implement them across multiple restaurants. They’re an invaluable tool that can easily be overlooked. Don’t underestimate the impact above-store leaders can have – use them to improve speed of service in your QSRs today.

Get the ultimate guide to restaurant analytics