Uno's Labor Optimization Project Gets High Marks from Managers &Staff

By HT Magazine | March 04, 2014

Uno Pizzeria & Grill (www.unos.com) got its start serving authentic Italian pizza when it was founded in Chicago in 1943 with one store. Since that time, the company has grown to include 140 thriving locations in 24 states as well as several international locations. As with any restaurant, margins are thin, expenses are high and there must be constant vigilance for ways to manage costs while maintaining or improving quality and the overall guest experience.
At Uno, the management team was working to find a tool to implement and execute a labor process overhaul. A cross functional team was formed to explore these issues led by Tom Brussard, director of performance management and Alan Labatte, vice president of IT.   

The team set about reexamining Uno’s direct labor model with the goal of understanding how service was currently provided to the guest and identifying how management wanted to provide that service. From there, it was decided that a tool was needed to help figure out how to measure, manage and articulate that labor model, as well as offer ancillary benefits to managers and staff.

The team performed field research and had conversations with several people in the industry, and ultimately decided to move forward with HotSchedules (www.hotschedules.com) from Red Book Connect (www.red
bookconnect.com)
.

Uno began by testing the new labor model and HotSchedules at five locations and then asked for the managers’ feedback. “Labor to our GMs is a passionate, emotional subject,” Brussard notes. “We wanted to make sure we went to them with a teaching and learning tool, with a model that provides the highest level of service to the guest, and to be able to say, this is the right thing to do.”
After the initial rollout, the decision was made to implement the new labor model and HotSchedules company-wide. The entire Uno team began seeing immediate results and the desired visibility into those results.

With HotSchedules, the Uno’s team was able to keep up with availabilities, time-off requests, employee certifications and the daily roster. “HotSchedules really closed the mouse trap for us,” Brussard says. “We always knew how many hours someone should get, but weren’t easily able to get a consolidated snapshot of that information. Now, there are multiple reports that we can show to our management teams.”  In addition, management has the capability to message teams about the schedule or other notifications using the platform, or through email and text alerting.

Brussard acknowledges that one of the most satisfying benefits of implementing HotSchedules was how well it was received by managers and staff. Creating and maintaining schedules became quicker and more convenient. Managers and staff appreciated the increased communications and anytime, anywhere access.  Mobile access was a huge hit, particularly for staff who wanted to swap a shift. “Our staff appreciates and enjoys the flexibility, access and communication capabilities,” Brussard says.

Workforce optimization prevents lost revenue
One thing Brussard was clear about was that Uno did not enter into this exercise with the goal of reducing labor. On the contrary, the objective was to ensure that each location had the right number and mix of employees to take care of guests. “This wasn’t a labor reduction initiative, this was an overall labor review to make sure that we’re being efficient with our time and that we’re appropriately staffing for our peak periods,” Brussard stresses.
An added benefit of optimizing labor levels was a reduction in overall costs.  “There’s no question that restaurants that don’t use a labor modeling or management solution are losing revenue,” Brussard confirms.
Combining its new labor model with the HotSchedules system, the Uno team is primed for a new era in labor management, cost control and guest service.  “We have a very strong partnership with Red Book Connect thanks to the hard work and dedication of the team there and their commitment to our success,” Brussard concludes.    

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