May 11, 2022
How Blanket helped Primanti Bros reach a 98% task completion rate
When “Uncle” Joe Primanti opened a sandwich cart in Pittsburgh's Strip District in 1933, he couldn’t have dreamed it would become one of America’s best-loved restaurant brands. Passed down in the family for nearly a century, Primanti Bros now operates more than 40 restaurants in six states.
The signature sandwich, which is stuffed with fries and coleslaw, was invented to allow industrial workers and truckers in the area to eat a whole meal with one hand. And with the help of celebrity endorsements from the likes of Wiz Kalifa, Quentin Tarantino, Joe Maganiello, and Adam Richman of Man vs Food, the sandwich has developed a cult following.
With such success and continued growth, the brand needed to keep operations tightly organized across locations–in order to maintain the quality and consistency that has made it so popular for so many years.
Will Bowker, Regional Vice President and Operating Partner at Primanti Bros explains that the team was looking for an organizational tool to help them standardize, manage, and report on tasks across their locations. But the solution they were using wasn’t up to the job.
Before implementing Blanket, the Primanti Bros team was using a project management tool to assign tasks and create checklists. But Will says that although their solution was a popular organizational tool, it wasn’t fit for purpose in the restaurant setting.
“We had to massage our procedures to fit the software because it wasn't flexible outside of the basic functionality,” he explains.
Because it was not built specifically for restaurants, it took some extra work to get the previous software to perform the required tasks.
“There were a lot of things that we had to just forego because our previous tool didn't work and that's why we were ready to use something different,” Will adds.
The team was wasting time and resources manually building procedures to fit the tool, rather than the tool fitting their current procedures. Specifically, the solution lacked the reporting and multi-level visibility they required.
Additionally, the system wasn’t giving them the communication they needed at different levels of the organization as it was only accessible to managers. That meant that carrying out daily checklist tasks and communicating with managers via the tool wasn’t possible for hourly team members..
“It was all for administrative management only,” Will explains, “It would've been too much to handle [for hourly employees].”
Blanket was implemented to provide organization and accountability across the company, and it proved to be popular straightaway. Employees at all levels were willing and able to use the tool, making for an easy rollout.
Will explains, “Blanket was accepted pretty quickly. It was straightforward. It was definitely user-friendly.”
Blanket allowed staff at all levels access to checklists, so communication and organization were improved immediately. And Will says that its flexibility allowed it to be customized to whatever level was needed.
He adds: “It's certainly customizable specifically to the different levels within the organization, all the way down to the frontline hourly employee.”
Part of the reason the roll-out was so smooth was the personal help with implementation offered by Blanket’s support team, which was on hand to ensure everything was built right the first time.
Will recalls that the team was flexible and willing to customize the product to them from the beginning, so his team didn’t have to spend time and resources working it into the company’s processes.
“We had to build it correctly,” Will explains, “This is where [Head of Customer Success] Stephanie was a key part of this whole acceptance process. She helped us build the initial checklists and trained us which was vital.”
A key feature that Blanket added which wasn’t available with the previous system was the ability to add photos to any task on a checklist. This allows managers to get a remote visual check on the situation and also keeps team members engaged in their work.
Will explains that with the previous tool, he would have to manually associate a task with a photo, which made the whole process too time-consuming to be worth doing.
“It would be hard to associate the task with the photo. With Blanket, it's very clear. The photo is attached to the item you're looking at and there's no confusing it.”
Will explains that simply by running through Blanket’s checklists and tasks, new managers are now able to learn about business operations and quickly become familiar with expectations.
“Blanket has been really helpful with new manager trainees,” he says, “They are very familiar with Blanket. They [use it] to complete line checks every day.”
This has immediate implications on operations, as managers quickly learn the ropes and are able to make sure procedures are followed and standards are maintained.
“It really helped us keep the new managers on task, ensuring that they check the vital components of the food quality, service, et cetera,” Will adds.
Aside from the features and restaurant-specific functionality that Blanket gave to Primanti Bros, it also improves the way information flows throughout the organization.
Will explains that Blanket helps all kinds of information to be circulated to specific teams and managers at all levels and locations.
“Blanket has made it a lot easier to disseminate information to specific groups of people,” he reveals, “That's really the biggest benefit that I see, the ability to communicate different parts of the app, different checklists, audits, and actions.”
Open communication channels not only allow hourly team members to feel more connected to higher levels of the company, they also give regional managers and executives a 40,000-foot view of what’s going on across the business.
Will continues: “[Blanket provides] that detailed visibility of the status of anything that's going on at any given time. It's not just the communication, it’s also being able to go in and see what communication was taking place.”
As the regional operations manager, Will was particularly impressed with Blanket’s reporting tools, which allow him and other regional managers to create custom reports for deeper insights into specific areas of operations.
“What's great about Blanket is depending on what level you're at, you can develop the reports you want to see on a daily, weekly, or whatever. You can break [the information] down and see it any way you want.”
He goes as far as to say Blanket offers the best reporting tools he has seen on any system he’s used, which allows him to fulfill his role at Primanti Bros to the best of his ability.
“The reporting piece is far better than anything I've seen in other apps or software,” Will says, adding “That piece of it is hugely beneficial, especially for someone at my level.”
The practical implications of better reporting and visibility through the business are real. Will explains that having the completion report emailed out to everyone each morning motivates managers to ensure tasks are completed and checklists are filled out.
“Guess what?” he says, “They can't hide. [The completion report] gets emailed every morning and that's visible to everybody.”
The combination of communication across levels, usability for in-store teams, and visibility for operations managers has allowed Primanti Bros to stay organized, consistent, and on task.
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