Suppose your restaurant had a norovirus outbreak and the health department needed to see your inspection forms from a specific time period. If you’re still using pen and paper record-keeping systems, could you immediately locate and provide the correct paperwork? Would you be able to access specific files in a towering pile of paperwork or an overstuffed file cabinet?
Low tech paper systems can put restaurants at higher risk for a variety of problems: foodborne illnesses, norovirus, Hepatitis A outbreaks, excessive food waste and human error.
What about safety inspections? Are you confident that your employees are doing safety and quality inspections accurately – or at all? Is there a chance that your team is faking their answers on important safety checks because they’re too busy (or too lazy) to do the actual work? This happens often in restaurants, and is obviously a huge risk for restaurants and their guests. If employees say they checked the temperatures of the walk-ins but they didn’t actually, restaurants could be unknowingly serving foods that were held at unsafe temps.
When an employee says the kitchens or bathrooms have been sanitized and disinfected when they haven’t been, it increases the risk for highly contagious norovirus and Hep A to spread. Human error is also a huge concern when using paper forms. This could be as simple as poor handwriting that’s difficult to decipher, or it could be an employee writing down incorrect temperatures that put foods (and guests) at risk.
How’s your ordering process? Are you tracking sales numbers and other key information on paper, making it difficult to integrate and analyze data from your various clipboards? Are you able to review and interpret data and get a holistic view?
For instance, can you easily examine sales data from the past few months to determine which dishes have been performing well, and which ingredients need to be restocked? Have you streamlined your ordering process, so you’re only buying what you need so you can reduce food waste – and the costs associated with that waste?
Restaurants have, unfortunately, been slower than other industries to adopt technology, and this can be damaging. Low tech paper systems can put restaurants at higher risk for a variety of problems: foodborne illnesses, norovirus, Hepatitis A outbreaks, excessive food waste, human error, etc.
Historically, restaurants have relied on pen and paper systems for some of their most important tasks, including safety inspections and quality checks. They also use paper for ordering, inventory, tracking sales numbers, etc. This antiquated system – clipboards all over the kitchen, piles of paperwork on the GM’s desk – is problematic and needs to change.
ThinkFoodGroup has found that incorporating digital systems – such as CoInspect’s digital safety inspection app – across all of our restaurants has been extremely beneficial. Some of the advantages we’ve experienced include:
The chefs and GMs at ThinkFoodGroup’s restaurants know for certain that our safety checks have been done correctly, accurately and on time because we can check that data in real-time. Digital systems allow employees to take and store photos – e.g., showing the temperatures of the walk-ins at specific points throughout the day – as part of their inspections. Digital photos and videos provide proof of certain key elements that are critical to food safety.
Restaurants have, unfortunately, been slower than other industries to adopt technology, and this can be damaging.
A More Holistic View
Since ThinkFoodGroup has numerous restaurants, from upscale to fast casual, we need the ability to see sales and other key data points across the board, and tech systems provide a more holistic, big picture view. Even for smaller restaurant groups and independents, digital tools can help spot trends – how are sales doing, what menu items are (and aren’t) selling well, are there recurring issues being spotted during inspections that need to be resolved? This data can help your leadership team make better, more informed decisions.
Consistency and Scale
Implementing an integrated, consistent system throughout all ThinkFoodGroup restaurants provides creates value and scale across the enterprise. We found and implemented a scalable system that will grow with us as we add new restaurants. The consistency across the enterprise is extremely helpful, as staff members can toggle between the organization’s restaurants and be familiar with the systems and processes in each establishment. Again, even smaller restaurants and independents will benefit from this. All employees will learn the process and system, which will be consistent across every shift.
Digital systems take away any uncertainty. If you’re wondering if your chefs are cooking foods to proper temperatures, digital food thermometers will provide accurate, easy to read information to remove any doubt. Did the power go out in the middle of the night? Utilize your tech systems to determine when it went out, how long it was out, and whether your walk-in cooler and/or freezers rose to unsafe temperatures. Did someone inadvertently leave the walk-in door open? Sensors will alert the staff so it can be closed right away, keeping temperatures within proper range. These tech tools reduce human error and boost accuracy, which will help prevent foodborne safety incidents and reduce food waste.
Less Food Waste
Food waste is a common (and expensive) problem in the restaurant industry, and ThinkFoodGroup uses tech tools to prevent and reduce it.
As digital solutions become more mainstream and accessible within the restaurant industry, they’ve also become more affordable and user-friendly.
For instance, we leverage our digital systems to access and analyze previous months’ sales numbers to gauge volume. Armed with this data, we can be much more accurate in what (and how much) we order. Higher accuracy in ordering means less food waste – which saves our company tremendous money, and is better for the environment, as well.
More Time Doing What We Love
It’s rare to find a chef or other restaurant employee who loves doing inspections, inventories, safety checks or similar tasks, but it’s a critical part of the job. Tech tools provide an opportunity to get the more tedious tasks completed quickly and accurately so chefs and their teams can concentrate on doing the parts of their jobs that they love – cooking delicious food, developing new menu items, talking to guests, and providing exceptional customer service.
As digital solutions become more mainstream and accessible within the restaurant industry, they’ve also become more affordable and user-friendly. Restaurateurs needn’t worry that implementing tech tools will be expensive, difficult to learn, and time-consuming to implement and utilize. There is a learning curve, as with any new system, but it’s not overwhelming or terribly time-consuming. Restaurants that have already made the leap to digital solutions are very happy that they did, and are enjoying the benefits of that decision.
ThinkFoodGroup and CoInspect have recently partnered to promote the importance of utilizing digital systems in the restaurant industry. ThinkFoodGroup – which has more than 30 restaurants ranging from fast casual to upscale – has implemented digital systems across their enterprise, and have experienced measurable improvements in their efficiency, productivity, accuracy and safety, as well as a reduction in foodborne illness incidents and food waste. CoInspect is elevating the way restaurants do important daily tasks – such as safety inspections – to make them more convenient, accessible, and accurate. Together, these companies are promoting the importance of “going digital” in restaurants.