ES-O-EN Management, which runs 29 Taco Bell franchises across Idaho and Oregon, faced increasing staffing and employee retention challenges over the last year. When these issues started to negatively impact operations and customer service, the company’s leaders initiated a concerted effort to boost engagement.
Around this time, a new “predictive scheduling” law took effect in Oregon. The state’s Fair Work Week Act now requires large retail, food service and hospitality industry employers to provide employees with advance notice of their work schedules. Stephen Nicolaysen, ES-O-EN’s CFO, remembers, “The more we dug into what this law required of us, the clearer it became that we needed a tool to manage all of our conversations around scheduling. After networking with other franchise owners who use the Crew solution for communications and scheduling, we realized it could both support our regulatory compliance needs, and dovetail nicely with our culture change initiative.”
After a one-month pilot, the company quickly rolled out Crew to all of ES-O-EN’s Taco Bell locations. Today, above-store leadership uses Crew to promote contests and employee recognition, which builds organizational relationships that span beyond in-store teams. As a result, people feel more engaged with the business.
Each manager also posts their store’s weekly schedules on Crew. This allows employees to check their shifts right from their phones. And rather than spend time calling or texting individual team members to fill shifts when someone calls out, managers can instantly find coverage via Crew.
Crew has been a major contributor to improving our staffing levels and connecting directly with all our employees. Overall, it’s contributed to a 5% lift in customer satisfaction.
Stephen shared, “With Crew, it’s a lot easier for us to cascade information. We’re able to blast out shift coverage requests to every employee in the store, and kick them out to other nearby store teams if needed. Within 30 minutes, we can make sure every employee in the company knows there’s a shift that needs coverage.”
Dan Skinner, ES-O-EN’s director of operations, added, “Before Crew, our managers spent an hour every week calling around for shift coverage, and another two or three hours waiting for people to call them back. Now, they spend five minutes sending a message on Crew, and usually get coverage within a half hour.” Since it’s so simple, ES-O-EN employees often take the initiative to get coverage themselves if they can’t work an assigned shift, which takes the responsibility off their manager and frees even more time.
In addition, Crew’s scheduling solution adds value by making it easy to comply with Oregon’s regulatory changes. Using Crew, the company can keep employees informed, maintain the state’s required volunteer standby list, and retain all communications records about scheduling and shift offers. Area coaches leverage Crew’s Command Center interface to monitor whether general managers post their schedules on time, and address issues quickly when needed.
By closing the gap between above-store management and frontline teams, Crew also helps ES-O-EN increase employee morale and motivation. “When we see something to celebrate – like winning a speed of service contest, getting a good review, or boosting any other performance metric – our corporate leaders publicly recognize people by giving them Gold Stars in Crew,” said Dan.
To further encourage engagement, ES-O-EN also runs lighthearted competitions. For example, on Halloween, they invited employees to wear costumes to work (within Taco Bell guidelines) and share their selfies on Crew. Stephen noted, “Our Halloween contest made people feel part of a bigger unit than just their small team store. As an added bonus, it took a day that people would normally want to call out for, and turned it into a preferred shift by giving staff a fun reason to show up.”
Even some of Crew’s less tangible perks helped the company improve performance. Because the communication platform facilitates a more engaged culture, ES-O-EN now has a pool of people who are happy to cover shifts when one of their peers calls out. Consequently, shift coverage jumped from only 50% to 90% or more – keeping restaurants optimally staffed and better prepared to meet customer expectations.
“Crew creates a positive atmosphere and an environment people like to be part of, which helps employees build a relationship with Taco Bell. That definitely made an impact on our recruiting and staffing, as well as overall customer satisfaction, which has climbed from around 66% to over 70% since adopting Crew,” concluded Dan.