Are you ready for eRestaurant?

Part 1: How to prepare for your new back of h­ouse (and avoid costly mistakes)

Switching back of house systems can be a big and challenging project. If you’re currently transitioning from TACO to eRestaurant– or about to transition – avoid the headaches. Learn common pitfalls and strategies for success from home office and store leaders who have been through the process.

In Part 1 of this series, our panel of experts will share strategies for how they best prepared for the new Back of House system – and how they overcame some unforeseen challenges.


Experts include:

  • Sharla Harris: Director of Training, Border Foods
  • Lynette Williamson: Client Success Manager, Delaget
  • Kent Farris: Restaurant General Manager, Border Foods

Q: What are the steps you took to prepare your restaurant team for the transition to eRestaurant?

Kent:

I highly recommend taking advantage of the pre-work and Learning Zone resources that are available. Additionally, we made sure our counts were accurate and that our system was closed out perfectly the night before, so that we were starting eRestaurant with accurate counts.Also, Border Foods had already converted a few restaurants from TACO to eRestaurant. We sent people from our stores to the stores that already converted, so they could learn firsthand how to open and close using the new system. Because of that, our team had a better handle on the system by the time we transitioned. All of these things really helped make the transition easier.

Sharla:

From an organizational perspective, it’s really important to follow Taco Bell’s guide book they’ve created for the transition. It’s been re-tooled over time, and I think it’s very well done. The training piece inside other restaurants that Kent mentioned is probably the most crucial part – and the biggest part for above store leaders to follow-up on. I would also say that any pre-work that can be done ahead of time is also going to be really important, so that the operators can stay focused on the actual tasks at hand on their go-live date.

Q: Both of you have mentioned pre-work. Could you give me an example of the pre-work that was used at the store level?

Kent:

Some of the pre-work included printing out employee files and certain items in the TACO system. This helped us verify that all of our information got transferred over accurately [to eRestaurant]. Also, a lot of the pre-work was completing Learning Zone related items.

Sharla:

You have to be ready as an organization. You have to know what your inventory count items are, so that you’re able to set up your [inventory] count sheet ahead of time. Also, building schedules ahead of time is really important. Taco Bell  recommends creating at least one week of possible schedules ahead of time so you have something to compare to when you’re building your first eRestaurant schedule. I would recommend two weeks because I think that there’s some more comparing and contrasting that can be done and it makes the schedule a little bit easier to understand.

Q: What are some of the challenges you have faced with the conversion to eRestaurant?

Kent:

When we transferred to eRestaurant, the biggest issues we had were with time keeping and ICOS. With time keeping, you have to make sure everyone’s clocking out every day. If you forget to have them clock out, they’re going to stay clocked in. eRestaurant doesn’t prompt you whereas TACO did. It’s something for people to get used to remembering. With ICOS, we realized early on that if you didn’t enter your last period of inventory during your first month [using eRestaurant], your ICOS is going be skewed to the positive because the system will think that you didn’t have any inventory before you started eRestaurant. So it’s really important to get your inventory in the system in advance or on your first day of the transition.

Sharla:

Kent discussed managing food costs. I would say that’s honestly the biggest challenge for restaurant leaders because there’s no auto reports that print. You need to get the General Manager and the above store leaders into the habit of having to look for the information and validate it with the data that they’re getting from their outside reporting solution. That’s the big challenge: to try to create those behaviors and to help them know exactly what to look for.Speed of service tends to be another challenge because it isn’t as visible. It’s difficult to find the speed of service numbers in eRestaurant. The sooner you can get your above store leaders to build a routine about looking for those numbers and helping to drive that to the General Manager level, then it’s going to be a whole lot easier.

Q: What are some challenges you’ve seen from a reporting perspective?

Lynette:

Delaget has helped thousands of Taco Bell locations transition to eRestaurant. In fact, our team works closely with the Taco Bell corporate team and we have weekly meetings to work through any new eRestaurant challenges that arise along the way.Something we’ve been hearing from our clients is there’s certain important TACO reports that are no longer available in eRestaurant. To remedy that, our team has created a special report for eRestaurant clients that includes many of those key metrics that you would typically find in the daily or weekly business summary. It combines all the stores into one report. I’d recommend asking your current reporting vendor to do the same.

Q: What was the biggest surprise when converting to eRestaurant?

Kent:

I think the biggest surprise was inventory and how it reported right away. In fact, we immediately reported positive 20% ICOS. That was a big surprise in trying to fix that right away.

Sharla:

I think we were pretty well prepared because we did so much in terms of communication leading up to each of our conversion dates. We had above store leader calls and training sessions to discuss the pre-work and pre-launch steps. We sent daily and weekly communications to our General Managers to make sure that we could give them updates on Learning Zone completion and what they needed to have done for pre-work steps. Also, we had our IT person go in ahead of time and validate that downloads could happen successfully with the hardware we had in the restaurants. Finally, we did as much of the pre-work ahead of the go-live date. The guidebook recommends doing the pre-work on the go-live date(s), but some of it can actually be done in the days leading up to go-live, like verifying the employee data transfers correctly, setting your inventory count sheet, and setting up your truck order form. If you do that, a lot of that problems you may have on day one will be eliminated.

Q: Is there anything else that comes to mind that you’d like to share about locations that are thinking of transitioning to eRestaurant?

Kent:

I’d say to be really mindful of the locations that you choose to be your first/test stores. I think its easiest for us to always go to stores with our veteran staff because they’ve been the most knowledgeable up to that point. However, I think they aren’t necessarily going be the best people to be your ambassadors for eRestaurant. It’d be better to choose somebody that’s more “techy” and has some knowledge of TACO and how it functions and isn’t that team member who’s been grounded in it for years.Also, you don’t want your representative to be someone brand new who hasn’t worked with TACO. They have to have some knowledge of how the entire system works in order to be able to challenge or understand if there is something in eRestaurant that doesn’t look quite right. If somebody doesn’t know what we did before, then they won’t know what things should look or be like. You want somebody who’s going be able to dig in and understand things, but who can also help sell the change to everybody else in your organization. The other thing I will say is that from a store perspective, this has been an easy transition for most of our restaurant teams. Even our veterans who have been here forever and have been entrenched in TACO find it relatively easy to use.It’s really just digging in and understanding how the system is built, being able to find information, and troubleshooting when necessary. It will come together with time and energy spent learning and working within the system. But overall, the day-to-day work is simple and easy.