people pattern

40% higher shift coverage at Pizza Hut franchisee

The challenge

Spokane Valley Pizza, LLC and Columbia Basin Pizza, Inc. together own 42 Pizza Hut restaurants across the state of Washington. To keep such a large operation profitable, the group’s executives keep a very close watch on sales and restaurant performance targets. In addition, area coaches oversee store’s business needs and customer service metrics, while restaurant managers focus on weekly schedules, hiring and team building. However, as is common in the quick-service restaurant industry, the business previously struggled with communication gaps between each of these management levels.

Compounding this challenge, low unemployment rates made it difficult to retain employees, and staff often missed shifts without giving notice. The company’s tight labor budget and precise scheduling meant that when someone didn’t show up for work, whoever was on the clock at the time would scramble in order to ensure customer needs were met. This was stressful and negatively impacted both employee morale and service levels.

The solution

The region’s director of operations, Joe Kerns, turned to the Crew mobile platform to facilitate more direct, quick communication with team members at all levels of the business. Now, he no longer relies on general managers to read their emails and share relevant updates with their front-line staff in a timely manner. Instead, he goes onto Crew, posts an announcement to every store, and can rest assured that it’s communicated in the exact same way to each team member.

In addition to work-related discussions, corporate announcements and employee recognition, the company uses Crew to get more shifts covered. Managers post their schedules on the app every week, and employees use it to request shift covers as needed. These requests take seconds to post – as opposed to having a manager call through their phone list for 30 minutes trying to find coverage – and all team members are immediately notified on their cell phones when a new shift is available.

Optimizing staffing levels with faster shift covers

Previously, Joe noticed that restaurants went without coverage four out of every five times someone missed a shift or called out. Often, that was because managers were simply too busy to track down a replacement at the last minute. With Crew, that’s all changed. Rather than just skipping work when something comes up, employees are more likely to get on Crew and proactively ask for coverage.

Managers even use Crew if they have a surprise rush because a school bus pulls up, for example. They quickly post a message that says, ‘We’re really slammed. Does anybody want to pick up two or three hours right now?’ This reaches all 30 team members instantly so anyone who wants to pick up the extra hours can help out.

Building a culture of recognition and accountability

Crew helps the business get all kinds of information – from promotions, contests and metrics, to critical corporate updates and process changes – from the above restaurant level down to front-line employees in minutes. In particular, the organization leverages Crew to support communications best practices surrounding:

  • Product sales – When Pizza Hut recently decided to extend a discount promotion that was expiring, regional leaders immediately sent a Crew message to front-line staff so they knew the deal was still valid before a customer asked.
  • Strategic alignment – In order to cultivate a results-driven mindset, leaders use Crew to share and explain reports and rankings for a variety of key metrics. For instance, they publish weekly “driver turn” (delivery speed) rankings and recognize top performers.
  • Recalls – During a recent E. coli outbreak, Joe used Crew to ensure exact romaine recall instructions from corporate were communicated to each Pizza Hut store. This transformed a potential headache into a seamless process executed properly by staff with minimal involvement from management.
  • Charitable giving – The business raises and matches donations for team members in need by encouraging staff to contribute a dollar in exchange for wearing their favorite sports team’s gear on Fridays. By using Crew to drive competition between her stores, area coach Angie Davidson recently collected 30% more in donations than any other area.

The company’s management team also uses Crew to rapidly address employee concerns in an open manner, celebrate birthdays and acknowledge high quality work. Joe pointed out, “Even though I can’t personally visit every store in my region all the time, it’s easy to run a report and see which team members are contributing to a particular metric. Then I simply give them a Gold Star in Crew with my reasoning, and their co-workers see that and add positive comments that continue the motivation cycle.”

My stores that consistently use Crew to thank employees for doing a good job with cleanup, or covering a shift, or a whole host of other things are the ones doing really, really well with their key performance metrics.

Joe Kerns

Director of Operations


Now that Crew gives everyone access to schedules and coverage requests in their pockets, the business has tripled its shift coverage from 20% to 60%, which helps the restaurants run more smoothly. Joe noted, “Having proper staffing in our stores builds team morale and peer accountability. People know how stressful it will be if a shift is short a team member, so when they see a coverage request on Crew, they want to step up and help out their team.”

Angie also recognizes the impact of Crew in her stores. She said, “Crew helped us break the communication barrier, and make team members feel more included. Employees get a lot of value from knowing what’s going on and not being left in the dark, so they feel more empowered and capable.” Additionally, Crew is helping the company establish a recognition culture that management expects will have a profound impact on employee loyalty and retention over time.


Pizza Hut

  • Spokane, WA
  • Quick-Service Restaurant
  • 3,000+ employees
  • 104 locations

Crew Impact

  • 40% higher shift coverage
  • 30% higher charitable giving participation
  • Manager time savings