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The president of 21 burger franchises knew that the average employee turnover for the industry was 300 percent. Unlike some of his store managers, he didn’t view this as an unsolvable and acceptable characteristic of low-wage jobs. He calculated the time and lost productivity caused by a cycle of training, hiring, and employee attrition, then verified the negative effect it had on customer service and, ultimately, the profitability of each location. The owner described the fast food business as requiring skills in a variety of areas—manufacturing, handling and storage, merchandising, sales, accounting, product quality and consistency and customer service. Those requirements combined with the fact that the majority of employees at such establishments are young and inexperienced result in a pressure cooker work environment. This president also observed that store managers were often too dependent on the supervisors who, in turn, tended to micromanage. This resulted in managers afraid to make even minor decisions without prior approval. After learning about the behavioral science of Precision Learning (PL) at a Cambridge forum sponsored by Harvard University, he decided to put the technology to work at his franchises to optimize the critical priorities for successful management strategies, employee retention and customer satisfaction.
Using PL methods for identifying critical success behaviors for supervisors, managers and employees, every store set its own performance goals fueled by positive recognition, reward and salary incentives. The changes became immediately apparent as turnover dropped by 50 percent within six months. The supervisor/manager relationships improved greatly as supervisors were coached on shaping decision-making skills for managers and for rewarding those who made competent decisions without constant oversight. The owner pinpointed and emphasized good sales behaviors over sales results, an emphasis that individual store managers at first resisted until they saw the positive and profitable results. Hiring practices changed as managers began to view potential employees as pivotal links to their own success. Today every store sets its own performance standards according to the particular location and client base. The president resists comparing performance scores between locations, preferring to let each store compete to improve its own scores measured by weighted matrices of behaviors and results focused on quality, cleanliness, productivity and customer satisfaction. Turnover continues to decline and, as the president predicted, the profits at all stores are on the upswing. Also, a culture of resignation has been replaced by one of enthusiasm.
“When our managers interview and hire people, they’re no longer just looking for a body
to fill a slot. They’re looking for someone who is going to be a member of their team.”
—President and owner of 21 fast-food restaurants
© Aubrey Daniels International, Inc. All rights reserved. 2021