Blanket Helps Upward Projects Grow & Scale Operations

Blanket was brought in as a single tool to manage multiple critical functions.

Upward Projects is a multi-brand restaurant group with over 20 locations clustered in central Phoenix and spreading rapidly across Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Texas – and soon to be in Irvine, California. 

The brand prides itself on “creating authentic and inspiring experiences” for the local communities that the restaurants and bars serve. That means the excellent reputation of the brand needs to be maintained with a consistent level of quality in every aspect of operations, all while growing rapidly across a huge area. 

In order to achieve this goal, the team needed a solution for compliance and organization across locations that would hold teams accountable and that could keep up with the group’s ambitious growth. 

Streamlining the Upward Projects tech stack

AJ Jolley, Senior Director of Operations at Upward Projects, informs us that the team was using a number of solutions to try and improve communication and compliance as the business grew. But they didn’t have an efficient way to assign tasks and keep visibility across locations. AJ turned to Blanket to streamline the number of tools the brand was using.

“We were using multiple platforms,” she says, adding with a chuckle “And as a young growing company full of cool hip people, we love platforms. We just love them. But ultimately that's not sustainable. Consolidating into one platform was a huge benefit that we saw in Blanket.”

Blanket was brought in as a single tool to manage multiple critical functions, including task management, auditing, and communication.

Blanket scales with Upward Projects as the group continues to grow

AJ reveals that Blanket was easy to set up and start using right away. “I oversaw the pilot at a key location in Postina Arcadia, actually our first location,” she says, “I felt really good about the intuitiveness and the ease of setup that it offered.”

As Blanket was rolled out to additional locations, she found that its ease of use, combined with powerful reporting, made for a winning combination.

“[Blanket gave us] reporting for all operators, but especially a higher level operator like the Culinary Standards Manager, Culinary Director, Area Directors and myself. The ability to consolidate performance and compliance of some of these like key operational audits and hold our teams accountable is great.”

“We’ve grown very quickly and [need] the scalability of not only accountability,” she adds, “But also ease and efficiency of use for our operators to complete some really key audits.”

AJ highlights Blanket’s Head of Customer Success, Stephanie, as being particularly helpful in getting Upward Projects started with Blanket and troubleshooting any problems.  

“Stephanie's been an incredible partner throughout this whole thing,” AJ says, “She's been really supportive. The full onboarding process with her and the rollout was really great.”

Blanket improves accountability up and down the organization

After giving the team a 45-day period to get used to the tool, AJ says they saw noticeable results with completion rates soaring to 92%

“We realized we were at 42% completion, for example, on [line checks],” AJ says, “And then our Culinary Director and Customer Service Managers began communicating with the stores and sending out weekly reports. Through monitoring the results, we've improved that to 92% completion. So I'm a believer!”

Blanket made it easy to compare the performance of stores across the wide area in which the group operates and easily identify which stores and performing well and which were not.

“I lead a group of Area Directors who are making sure that their stores are accountable,” AJ explains, “And checklists are really important, right? Because we want their job to get easier, not harder.”

She explains that the beverage team sends regular reports to Area Managers and General Managers for visibility across the business: 

“[Blanket] gives our Area Directors the ability to get under the hood a little bit more and increase accountability for stores that have not completed their audits.”

Blanket allows floor staff to upload pictures as they complete tasks so that managers who aren’t present can see that standards are being adhered to. 

“We require photos for facility audits,” AJ reveals, adding, “Step one is, are they doing the audit? Yes or no? And you can clearly see that in the Blanket dashboard.” She added, “I think getting more granular into the quality of the actual audit is step two behind that.”

Blanket’s leaderboards keep employees engaged and motivated

Blanket is not only a compliance and digital checklist tool. It is also designed to improve employee engagement as they complete tasks and motivate team members to perform better with some friendly competition. 

AJ says that Upward Projects utilize Blanket’s leaderboards to foster a competition in order to keep employees engaged in their work. 

“Our CSMs [Customer Service Managers] are sending out weekly reports that list the leaderboards to create some healthy competition,” she says, “I think it's helping drive some of the results.”

But she’s mindful that something as simple as acknowledging the good performance of stores that complete their audits on time is also a key factor in keeping employees happy and motivated: “I think what's equally as important as identifying the stores that don't complete it, is also celebrating the stores that do.” 

Upward Projects relies on Blanket to maintain its high standards as the group continues to expand

Having overseen the implementation of Blanket and the positive changes to the completion rates and brand standards at Upward Projects, AJ recommends the tool for its “ability to consolidate audits and checklists into one location.” 

“It increases a high level of communication and accountability around completion and compliance,” she adds.

As the group continues to grow, AJ sees the culinary standards and area director audits, in particular, as vital to the success of the business.

“The high-level communication and insight into these kinds of key operational pieces in our stores is key,” she says, “And the ability to do that very quickly with 21 stores soon to be 26 stores is essential for us.”

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