The Restaurant Employee Buy-In Playbook

Getting employees to actually use new software shouldn’t be a problem, but ...

The Restaurant Employee Buy-In Playbook

Getting employees to actually use new software shouldn’t be a problem, but it often is. This is especially true for restaurants, where new initiatives are often met by countless reasons as to why ‘the old way’ worked just fine.  

What stops employee buy-in?

Several factors combine to make employees balk at a new system. What underlies these factors is a lack of a ‘company-wide vision’. Without a vision beyond their own tasks, employees don’t want to change their routines.

Common employee roadblocks for customers implementing new software for the first time include:

Viewing the new system as a ‘task’ instead of a ‘tool’. Once an employee gets used to a daily routine, inserting a new system can feel like extra work. If an employee has a daily checklist, but now has to actually ‘check off’ the checklist in an app, it can feel like a ‘task’. What they’re not seeing is that this app ensures they don’t miss anything and helps them get things done faster. They only see the extra ‘task’ and not the benefit that the new ‘tool’ provides.

I already do a great job, why do I need this? Store-level employees all the way up to management will make this statement. But, it is management that you need to spearhead buy-in for the new app. Managers might feel that they already have a ‘system that works’. What they don’t consider is that just because it works for them doesn’t mean it works for the entire operation.

They don’t think outside of their own job. Employees who don’t see a major impact to their own role can be resistant. They don’t see why doing something in an app is better for their specific job. If they were thinking about the company as a whole, they would understand why change is being made.

If you’re struggling with getting your employees to use a new app, it doesn’t have to be that way. At Blanket, we work with customers to help them overcome the hurdles to adoption. We’ve taken what worked for them to make the ‘restaurant software employee buy-in playbook’.

The restaurant software employee buy-in playbook

This playbook contains essential tips and tricks to get your employees to use your app. Note: these tips are what works for Blanket. They use Blanket’s features, but you can apply them for other systems as well.

Tip #1: Bonuses for on-time completion percentage. Buy-in is about productivity, so it makes sense to reward for increased productivity. Say you’re looking to assure your store’s tasks are being completed on time, and done properly. To get them to use the new system, you could offer a bonus based on how much time they can shave off that part of the job.

That way you’re not only getting buy-in, but you’re incentivizing productivity. Management performing tasks “on-time” as opposed to “late” tend to be leading indicators of that managers ability to time manage. You can apply this ‘on-time completion percentage bonus’ to any group of employees. We’ve seen great results when offering the bonus to the managers at the top. They are the ones setting the company culture.

Tip #2: Share store reporting company-wide. This is from the ‘open book management’ strategy that encourages sharing financial reports with the whole company. This helps employees take more accountability and makes them want to perform better.

Blanket automatically tracks metrics such as ‘task completion percentage’. You can show these show metrics across stores and between employees. You can also create a ‘leaderboard’ to show who is performing the best. Showing people how they’re store ranks in comparison to others generates excitement. More employees buy-in as they want to see their store at the top of the leaderboard.

Tip #3: Store-to-store contests. A friendly competition between stores can get people excited about a new app. Blanket enables you to create and manage store-to-store contests for anything you want.

Imagine you start using Blanket and want to increase sales for a new menu item, let’s say milkshakes. A great way to get people in the app would be to create a store-to-store contest on who can sell the most milkshakes. The winning team receives a digital reward in Blanket that they can redeem for a gift card or cash bonus. This is a fun way to get buy-in and build camaraderie at the same time.

Tip #4: Gamification and rewards. Along with store-to-store competition, you can also use individual achievements to get buy-in. In Blanket, you can give points and performance badges for achievements and create a custom leaderboard.

To get buy-in, give employees a performance badge for something like ‘complete 5 daily checklists’. After they get the badge, you can give them a small real-world reward like a gift card, or add them to the leaderboard. There are many ways you can use gamification and rewards to generate buy-in. This has a great side effect of making the software more fun to use.  

Tip #5: Have a heart-to-heart. Say you have a store manager who’s been doing an excellent job for 5 years. You tell her that she now has to use a new app to manage operations. She says “I’ve been doing a great job with this store for the last  5 years, and now you’re telling me I have to change how I do things?”

To her, it feels like you’re undercutting her with this ‘new system’ when she already has a system that works. As the leader of the store, she sets the tone for how this location will adopt the software.

Here’s what you can do. Have a one-on-one meeting with the manager and follow this script or your own version of it:

You do a great job here and I understand how you feel. However, this is the direction the entire company is going. It’s about increasing productivity so we can move forward in other areas. You are a leader at this company. We need your help in setting the example and getting this done. This is ultimately going to help our business and in turn, help you.

A heart-to-heart conversation that lets your managers air concerns will help create buy-in. It gives you the chance to get leaders on board with the company goals and encourage them to set the example.

Change doesn’t have to be difficult

People are naturally resistant to change, which is why getting buy-in can be so difficult. But you don’t need to let that discourage you. There are plenty of great ways to get over the buy-in hump. Some of them can even be great fun.

Don’t let a fear of not getting employee buy-in stop you from implementing a highly productive new app. Instead, strategize how you can get buy-in from the start. That way you can start your implementation with a solid plan to achieve faster success and ROI.

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