TDn2K is the parent company of People report, Black Box Intelligence and White Box Social Intelligence. Here you will find everything strarting from the creators of People Report & BBI, your one-stop shop for restaurant industry news, restaurant analytics, and a report of the service industry. Keep up to date on industry news as well as monthly restaurant industry statistics.
Key highlights from Morning with Joe, a #GlobalBPC Q&A Session
At TDn2K’s 2019 Global Best Practices Conference, Joe Kefauver, managing partner of Align Public Strategies discussed some of the tough public policy issues impacting the restaurant industry leading into 2019. Facilitated by Peter Romeo, director of digital content of Winsight media, the duo covered a variety of topics, with highlights surrounding the government shutdown, the role of the CEO and business community and policy changes coming through the pipeline.
How did the government shutdown affect the restaurant industry?
As the longest US government shutdown came to a close without a resolution, the future remains uncertain. Joe informed that the determining factor in how the situation pans out will fall to Senate Republicans facing tough re-election cycles. The pressure they face at home as they look at their re-elect chances could tip the scales.
There is not much hope for a breakthrough on either side, however, at least at the federal level. A resurgence due to inactivity in Washington has led to more action at the state level. Operators could see more changes in immigration policy around topics like e-verify and regulatory engagement.
The need to evolve the restaurant CEO
Consumer trust has shifted, as noted by the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer. Consumers are now looking to the business community to fix things because the institutions of governments are perceived as hopelessly broken. CEOs and companies are now expected to solve problems such as healthcare or immigration reform. To solve some of these infrastructure problems, the business community will need to get more involved, which may be a particular challenge for the restaurant industry as leaders often don’t see themselves in that role compared to other industries such as tech or retail.
“We are a unique industry – the CEO of United Airlines is not out flying planes and slinging bags. But our CEOs are in the kitchen… a lot,” said Joe Kefauver. “It’s a challenge for us to figure out the ways our CEOs can get out there and be a bigger voice for the industry.”
Policy changes looming ahead and the role of HR professionals
Joe postulated 2019 as the “year that paid leave goes mainstream.” As a result of the 2018 election, Republicans are as active as Democrats regarding paid leave issues. Minimum wage will play out in state and city legislations, including pending proposals to raise state minimum wage to $15 per hour in Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and Chicago. The restaurant industry needs to act quickly to have the conversation about what it can collectively live with, and go to congress with a national standard.
The definition of an employee will evolve in five to ten years, especially as the business model continues to change. The Ubers and Amazons of the world are not only disrupting the industry, but also the labor market and how workers are classified. This puts the HR professional in a unique position, as the issues and changes the industry navigates will intersect and cross on their desks. Joe urges HR professionals to keep a pulse on what is going on politically and within their communities. Opening up an internal dialogue with the c-suite and the decision makers enables those within this role to act as a change agent not only within their companies, but for the industry overall.
Align Public Strategies produces the monthly Public Policy Update in conjunction with People Report. This report provides a monthly rundown of the latest political and regulatory news directly impacting your restaurant business. Topics include wages, scheduling, paid time off, pay equity and activism, among others. This report is available to all People Report members.
TDn2K announced the winners of the 2019 Best Practices Awards today at the 24th annual Global Best Practices Conference in Dallas, Texas. The Best Practices Awards recognize consistently superior performance and results among the hundreds of companies tracked by People Report. These awards honor restaurant organizations for workplace excellence in their specific segment of the restaurant industry.
The 2019 award winners are: City Barbeque, J. Gilbert’s, LongHorn Steakhouse, NORMS Restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory and The Wendy’s Company. These companies were evaluated based on their results in hourly and management retention, compensation, diversity, year-over-year improvement and initiatives in the areas of community involvement and sustainable business practices.
“Receiving the 2019 Best Practices Award is wonderful validation of our purpose-driven approach to caring for our workforce,” said Dina Barmasse-Gray, senior vice president of HR for The Cheesecake Factory. “We believe in nurturing the bodies, minds, hearts and spirits of our people by developing their skills and talents and creating a sense of belonging for each and every teammate. We’ve come to recognize, time and time again, that putting our people first is the key to our success.”
“Operating in a challenging environment with growing headwinds—while staying true to our legacy—prepares us to take on the future with greater confidence and resilience. On behalf of the 1800+ employees who help make us a great place to work and eat, we are grateful and honored for winning the Best Practices Award for 2019,” added Amir Durrani, vice president of HR for Norms Restaurants, LLC.
“This award is a testament to the incredible leaders and team members that bring our brand to life each and every day,” said Todd Burrowes, president of LongHorn Steakhouse. “Our people are the fabric of our unique culture, so we’re dedicated to providing them with ongoing training and development that can propel their career forward, recognizing extraordinary individuals and creating a place where they’re proud to work.”
“We are honored to have J. Gilbert’s recognized by TDn2K for best practices in the fine dining segment,” said Mike Archer, chief executive officer of HRI, Inc. “The team at J. Gilbert’s is constantly striving to raise the bar while always having our guests’ needs and best interests at heart.” Archer continued, “For us, it’s about making a difference every day, whether it’s a simple smile, taking notice of a special occasion or preparing the perfect dish. It’s the small moments that mean the most.”
Best Practices Award nominees were also recognized for their outstanding results. The full list of 2019 nominees included: BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Boddie-Noell Enterprises, Eat’n Park, First Watch, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Fogo de Chão, King’s Seafood, la Madeleine, Ninety Nine Restaurants, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Portillo’s, Silver Diner, The Capital Grille, The Habit Burger Grill and Whataburger.
In addition to the Best Practices Award honors, TDn2K also presented the Diamond Catalyst Award, the Heart of the Workplace Award and the Workplace Legacy Award.
The Diamond Catalyst Award is a tribute to superior operational and workplace results. BJ’s Restaurants was the winner of the 2019 award. Eligible companies are members of both People Report and Black Box Intelligence and are evaluated based on sales and traffic performance as well as employment and people practices. The recipient of this award sets the standard for overall best-in-class business performance.
“The team at BJ’s is honored to join the elite group of companies recognized over the years by TDn2K at the Global Best Practices Conference as Diamond Catalyst recipients. The success we enjoy at BJ’s is the result of the hard work of every team member living our culture. Taking care of our team members is the essential act we take each day. Giving our team the support, the tools and the development to allow them to take care of our guests creates a vibrant culture and success at BJ’s,” said Lon Ledwith, executive vice president of operations for BJ’s Restaurants.
The Heart of the Workplace award is presented to the company that demonstrates a significant commitment to and investment in their employees and communities. This year, la Madeleine was celebrated with this honor.
The 2019 Workplace Legacy Award was presented to Steve King, chairman of Dave & Buster’s. The Workplace Legacy Award honors a leader in the restaurant industry who has clearly demonstrated a commitment to balancing people and profits. Their employees, organizations and communities have benefited from their leadership.
“I was privileged to work for a number of leaders who believed in the power of building teams, as the way to creating a successful business. As I grew and developed as a leader, I was able to continue living this philosophy and pass it on to those I worked with, thereby growing brands and achieving success,” said Steve King. “To be recognized by TDn2K, the industry organization that has been a leader in the recognition that people are the primary ingredient to our success, is a great honor.”
About GBPC The Global Best Practices Conference is produced by TDn2K. Held in Dallas, Texas, this event is a gathering of hundreds of restaurant industry c-suite leadership brought together to tackle some of the most challenging obstacles facing the restaurant industry. The event is also the home of the Best Practice Awards, Diamond Catalyst Award, Heart of the Workplace Award and the Workplace Legacy Award presentations. Dates for the 2020 Global Best Practices Conference are January 28th – 30th, at the Westin Irving Convention Center Hotel. More at www.tdn2k.com/events/gbpc.
Third Party Delivery is making waves in the restaurant industry and TDn2K is your guide to staying on top of this trend. Our research answers questions about costs, staffing implications and key concerns of selling indirectly to guests. Catch this session on the Main Stage and at FinSights.
Get Inspired with Great Keynotes
Do you have a pen & paper handy? From igniting your life through choice with John O’Leary or learning to outpace the marketplace through teamwork and leadership with Simon Mainwaring, we promise you won’t leave without valuable, actionable information.
You Get to Drink Texas Ranch Water!
Okay, not really. But you get to hang out with industry veterans and restaurants leaders while sipping on the latest Coke signature cocktails – Texas Ranch Water & Velvet Jack and Coke – sponsored by Coca-Cola.
Morning with Joe
Our favorite dynamic duo is back! Join Joe Kefauver from Align Public Strategies & Sarah Lockyer, group publisher for Nation’s Restaurant News, as they discuss industry policy, election implications and how to win the workforce (with coffee in hand).
HR Executive & FinSights Summits
Whether you are an HR leader or a high-level finance executive, our pre-conference sessions will cover everything from incredibly difficult labor markets to connecting the dots between financial, human capital and guest satisfaction data.
If you haven’t realized it by now, this isn’t your typical industry event. We want you to walk away with new ideas, connections, friends and of course best practices. With plenty of receptions and our Shoes & Booze community service project, you will have ample time to network with the best attendees in the business.
Changers of Commerce
It’s not #GlobalBPC without recognizing companies who are going above and beyond the call of duty. This year, we have a great panel of entrepreneurs from local and national brands prepared to tell you their story. All are welcome & expect to be inspired.
Operators know restaurant engagement is essential for maintaining top performance. General managers are the connection between the main office, employees and customers. Keeping them engaged should be a top priority for operators. Disengaged managers are much more likely to quit, costing operators more money and adding more issues to the overall health of the economy. Top brands understand that the key to best in class performance lies in general manager engagement.
Check out a quick video of Jamie Griffin, who offers his expert advice on the importance of engaging general managers.
How do we measure engagement at the employee level?
When I think about one piece of advice that you may not have heard about restaurant engagement or measuring engagement at the employee level, one of my really firm thoughts and ideas is that we focus on the general manager.
I think we should focus on their development, their selection, their cultivation. How their journey is to become a GM and how we keep them at high performing levels. And if I had to put all of my eggs in one engagement measurement and management basket I would really focus on the GM.
They are ultimately the person who take information, thoughts and ideas from the support offices and headquarters of our companies and turns it into reality for our front line workers and for our customers.
So if you do nothing else, make sure you start there and get that equation with your GM as solid as you can.
Jamie Griffin is Founder and Principal of Good Workforce, a people advisory and technology company transforming how businesses measure and manage the world’s hourly workforce to better workers’ lives and improve the bottom line.
Before forming Good Workforce, Jamie spent 14 years at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers helping it to grow into a $500M business and with over 10,000 hourly-rate employees. He is a Baton Rouge Business Report Top 40 under 40, a frequent speaker at conferences and association meetings on a range of sophisticated business topics and currently serves as President of the New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society. Jamie holds a Bachelor of Science from Louisiana State University and an Executive MBA from Tulane University, which he earned while commuting between Dallas and New Orleans. Based in Dallas, Texas, Jamie volunteers cooking meals at the Ronald McDonald House and serves on the Steering Committee of the IFA Dallas Franchise Business Network.
The TDn2K team was busy in 2018 making improvements to multiple platforms and product offerings. In July, TDn2K debuted Black Box Intelligence v2.5. The release featured median methodology allowing for top and bottom quartile analysis in Sales Intelligence reports. Targeted Competitor Reports were released in the third quarter with an improved format. In October, the Black Box Intelligence Targeted Zip Code report was released, providing financial benchmarking at the local level. Oh, and by the way, did you know Black Box Intelligence turns 10 in 2019?!
In March, v2.5 of White Box Social Intelligence was unveiled. The update included an entirely new user interface with trend analysis, new sentiment metrics and increased flexibility. White Box v3.0 went live in July and featured improved Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities and updated customized topics dashboards. By December of 2018, over 57,060 keywords and phrases were utilized in the White Box Social Intelligence NLP system.
Also in 2018, we conducted the largest ever Corporate Compensation and Benefits Survey (CCBS) with 204 distinct brands participating. CCBS results were released in July. Upgrades, improvements and in-depth analysis were also added to the TDn2K Performance Management Report and TDn2K Scorecard set, research best in class performance across the industry.
TDn2K strives to make continual improvements to all product offerings, to better serve our members.
Stay tuned for much more to come in 2019!
In Bonton, Texas, an inner-city neighborhood south of the Dallas metropolitan area, residents have little access to healthy food options. A visit to a grocery store would take three hours of travel time on public transportation, relied on by more than half of residents. The options available are limited to small beer and wine stores with packaged and outdated foods. The effects of this on resident’s health are staggering. Bonton experiences higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer than the rest of the city of Dallas.
Bonton Farms aims to change this. From humble beginnings in a small, vacant lot, the space has expanded to 40 acres and is now one of the largest urban farms in the United States. In addition to cultivating fresh, healthy produce, Bonton Farms also brings jobs to the community and most importantly, hope.
“This is a beautiful project that was brought to our attention by Victor as he had worked at the farm previously,” said Joni Doolin, chief executive officer at TDn2K. “This is a textbook case of a conscious organization that is creating jobs, and filling physical, mental and social needs in the community.”
The team at TDn2K was excited to be a part of their mission. On a chilly fall morning, TDn2K staff caravanned out to this South Dallas neighborhood to volunteer on the farm. The day was spent pitching in on daily chores, such as including moving and laying mulch or cleaning out coops and pens. A highlight was spending time with the farm’s goats, when everyone delightedly took turns to feed them.
“We are grateful to our leadership for creating this culture in which getting together as a team and working hard for the benefit of others is valued and important,” said Victor Fernandez, vice president of insights and knowledge for TDn2K. “It means a lot to us as a team to continue to serve our greater community.”
Bonton farms brings restoration to a community with hard work, fresh food and purpose. TDn2K was grateful for the opportunity to contribute and strives to participate in at least one service project per quarter. Company service projects are not only great for building teamwork, but they create opportunities to grow and expand skill sets beyond what is expected day-to-day. Most notably, the most engaged employees are those provided opportunities outside of their normal scope to make a social impact.
This article is part of a bi-monthly series focusing on bringing truly sustainable business practices to the restaurant industry. This series has been created in partnership with Thrive Farmers International, a leader in revolutionizing the coffee industry and teaching others to do things differently.
Thrive was founded from the ground up to ensure that farmers flourish by bringing renewed hope to coffee and tea-growing communities forced to look for other ways to survive. In the restaurant and beverage world, it seems that everyone has a story but when you scratch the surface – it is only that – a story. Stories sound good, but your customers are demanding more.
How do you compete in the marketplace and differentiate yourself from the competitor? Stories are no longer sufficient. Consumers are basing their buying decisions and developing brand loyalties with those that are walking the talk – companies creating actual social and environmental impact. Businesses can make the case that by doing good, their customer base will increase.
The 2014 Nielsen Global Corporate Social Responsibility Report demonstrated that each year more and more consumers are making buying decisions around brands making a positive impact in the world. As of the date of the study, 55 percent of the 30,000 consumers surveyed will pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive, social and environmental impact. Additionally, 52 percent of consumers made at least one purchase in the past six months from one or more socially responsible companies. One half of those consumers are millennials.
In a 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, “more than 9-in-10 millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause,” and millennials are “prepared to make personal sacrifices to make an impact on issues they care about, whether that’s paying more for a product, sharing products rather than buying or taking a pay cut to work for a responsible company.”
It is not conjecture anymore. Consumers are digging deeper, voting with their dollars and no longer listening to what the seller has to say. They are searching for brands that are transparent and committed to living up to their values in a verifiable way.
We at Thrive converse with companies everyday regarding the response to this new and powerful reality. A beverage strategy that communicates your company’s dedication to research, commitment to positive social and environmental impact as well as a willingness to fund and execute that innovative strategy will result in increased sales.
Sales are not the only piece of an increased ROI based on the research. As brand loyalty is more affected by a company’s real positive impact in the world, customers become your best salespeople. They will shout from the rooftops that they have decided to support your brand because of their own decision to make a positive impact, and they know that your company really cares. Your brand then becomes their means to doing good.
We see this new reality as our restaurant business people and customers learn about the impact the coffee and tea they drink has on the farmers that grow it. One restaurant owner said this in a recent social media post to his customers, “I am honored to be a small part of selling a delicious line of coffee products at my restaurant, that in turn provides a better life for our farmers and their families. I will never look at coffee the same way again.”
Make a change in your beverage strategy without settling for a marketing story. Look for the opportunity to have real impact and give your customers the opportunity to join your brand in changing the world for the better.
Kenneth Lander is the co-founder and chief sustainability officer at Thrive Farmers International. Thrive Farmers was founded in 2011 to transform the coffee industry by connecting farmers to consumers through a new supply chain. To learn more about Thrive, visit their website or follow them on Twitter at @ThriveFarmers.
Thrive Farmers is a Gold Sponsor at the 2019 Global Best Practices Conference. For more information, visit the link below.
Restaurant operators consistently cite staffing and retention as one of the biggest issues they face. During the third quarter of 2018, limited service brands reported hourly employee turnover rates at 137 percent. This is up five percentage points from the second quarter of 2018. In the same quarter, hourly turnover rates were up two percentage points for full service brands, at 105 percent.
The number of restaurant locations continues to increase faster than the population is growing. This industry saturation signals increased competition for operators to find and keep the best talent. In the annual Recruiting and Turnover Survey, TDn2K asked operators to name their most effective retention strategies. Some of the top strategies named were better training, higher compensation and better engagement for general managers (check out this blog post for reasons your general managers might not be engaged and what to do about it).
An effective training program is a must for successful operators. Onboarding is the first opportunity to provide clear guidance around your expectations. It is also the first glimpse an employee has of your organization’s brand and values. Finally, is an ongoing process that doesn’t stop once an employee is hired. View the infographic below for five elements to include in your restaurant training program.
TDn2K data has shown a widening gap between restaurant brands performing at the top and the bottom with respect to sales. Average performance simply isn’t good enough in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace. To move into the top quartile of performance, social data provides key insights into many key areas of operations.
Top performing brands are identified as those in the top quartile of brands in the Black Box Intelligence Index, which track same-store sales for the rolling year. These restaurants are also in the top half of brands for the year prior to show they are not only a strong performer in the most recent year, but consistently over time. These brands also have at least ten locations.
Research by TDn2K consistently shows that top performing restaurants do not share the same characteristics such as type of cuisine, location or even dining segment. Rather, the best performing brands show similarities in that they can grow same-store traffic, retain their management as well as hourly staff and provide consistent quality service.
How Top Brands Achieve Superior Sales And Traffic Performance
To help restaurant operators focus their efforts based on what the consumer is saying, White Box Social Intelligence, a guest satisfaction performance measurement tool, tracks six restaurant attributes: food, beverage, service, ambiance, value and intent to return. In an industry with a major focus on cuisine, surprisingly, guest sentiment around food showed the lowest spread between top and bottom performers. Service is consistently shown as the key differentiator between the strongest and weaker brands, with top performers revealing dramatically higher scores than competitors. Additionally, ambiance guest sentiment is emerging as a key element of top performer success.
In terms of ambiance, the costs related to restaurant redesigns and renovations often sets off alarm bells. However, the importance of it cannot be ignored, as this sentiment is most often related to cleanliness and order. Instead of pouring costs into redesigning a restaurant, ambiance can be improved with training and better management of staff. The addition of social and customer feedback data eliminates the guessing game for decision makers and reduces potential expenditures.
The trend of service as the biggest differentiator between top and bottom performers continues regardless of service style. Training plays a big role in maintaining service standards, but the retention of managers is also key. People Report, which tracks human capital performance, consistently shows that manager retention is a key driver of performance. To remain competitive and keep managers employed, operators are looking at ways to set their brand apart. According to TDn2K research, top performing companies pay higher salaries than their peers, set higher target bonuses and provide more training and development opportunities for their managers.
Successful restaurant operators know the importance of monitoring multiple channels to keep a pulse on customer satisfaction. Ideally, this can be done in a single dashboard to streamline the process. When social data lives in one centralized location that can be accessed from multiple departments it can be leveraged to make improvements across the business.
The social media landscape may already be familiar ground for marketers, but finance and HR have plenty of insight to gain from it as well. Ultimately, sales and traffic performance, employee retention and guest satisfaction are all inextricably linked.
When all is said and done, the restaurant industry is centered around people. The top performers are set apart by how they deliver on their brand promise. To do this, operators need the tools and resources in place to make sure they are accurately reflecting the needs and wants of their customers. Social data provides need-to-know insights, and the ability to track it in real-time gives restaurant operators a competitive edge.