With a vision to be the largest Taco Bell operator, as well as a premier employer in the system, K-MAC Enterprises, Inc. manages over 300 restaurants today and continues to grow. The organization is known for putting people first by developing and aligning great teams, and embracing a recognition culture. However, since above-store leaders can’t be in each store during every shift, they have limited visibility into frontline work, making it difficult to cultivate engaged, high-performing teams.
Previously, general managers’ (GMs) one-to-many communications options were limited. They often relied on posting paper flyers to restaurant bulletin boards, or making dozens of individual phone calls about shift coverage. These techniques no longer resonated with younger employees who were attached to their phones, but group texting wasn’t a viable option because not all team members wanted to share their private contact information.
“As we looked at how to boost employee retention, we wanted better ways to connect with more people throughout the organization, and get them involved in our programs,” said Cathy Blankman, growth leader at K-Mac. “In my work training, hiring, and supporting our operations teams in the field, it was clear that our staff wanted to know they were part of something bigger.”
A year ago, K-MAC discovered the Crew mobile app for team messaging, scheduling, and engagement. After rolling out the platform across the entire business, market and district coaches started communicating more often to demonstrate the open culture they wanted people to emulate. Now, leaders simply post one message to Crew – about new trainings, procedures, programs, or shift requests – and it reaches everyone at once, while respecting individuals’ privacy.
As the organization’s early adopters embraced the new technology, managers shared their success with peers and app usage grew like wildfire. GMs often publish daily goals to keep their teams focused on important metrics like overall customer satisfaction and speed-of-service. They also share store schedules on Crew three weeks in advance, so employees know when they’re expected to work and are empowered to find coverage on their own if needed, without having to request colleagues’ phone numbers. They simply post a shift coverage request to Crew, and anyone who’s qualified can pick up the hours instantly – which improves staffing company-wide.
“Crew has been instrumental in helping drive culture within the stores that have adopted it. K-Mac has over 6000 employees and Crew helps us with communication, connection across the organization and retention - particularly in keeping the K-Mac “family” atmosphere alive!”
Director of People Development
All K-MAC employees have the Crew app on their mobile phones, and leaders connect with people in a way that’s more relatable to them. “Our above-store coaches set the standard with how to use Crew for frequent, positive communications,” notes Blankman. “They love that they no longer have to rely on GMs to pass along targets. Now they’re able to publish speed scores for every single restaurant in their district, and know that shift leads and all frontline employees will immediately understand their goals, which makes a huge impact.”
The company’s market training managers also use Crew to showcase things like shift huddle best practices or procedure changes via attention-grabbing videos, which create ripple effects across stores. K-MAC’s home office disseminates HR information, corporate scholarship opportunities, and operational updates as Crew announcements. They also post about new team members, birthdays, and anniversaries, helping people get to know their peers from day one.
“Crew fuels employee engagement, because people have the full picture of what’s expected of them and are motivated to do quality work.”
K-MAC extends the benefits of team communications by using Crew to recognize outstanding work, which inspires greatness and creates a motivational snowball from the top down. Crew helps management nurture positive, can-do attitudes by publicly highlighting anything from the fastest service in a district, to completing a training or receiving a great customer survey – even if it happens during a night shift when few coworkers are there to see it.
When a shift lead or general manager posts a person’s photo on Crew with a comment about their performance, people realize their contributions are important, and above-store management can more easily identify promising talent. Often a colleague 30 miles away will see a message and make the time to congratulate someone they’ve never even met, building more connections across the organization. Since K-MAC prefers to promote from within, this additional exposure is key in helping coaches find employees who demonstrate their passion to move up in the organization.
Crew’s biggest impact is more effective, frequent communications that helps evolve the company’s culture and improve staff retention. Locations with high levels of participation on Crew have decreased their turnover, helping the organization make strides towards its overall targets. By deepening employee engagement in every corner of the business, Crew improves K-MAC’s staffing levels, drives positive thinking, and ultimately ensures a better experience for customers.