Some long time ago, we put up an analytic database feed against the POS transactions of several stores of Carl’s Jr. It was kind of surprising that nobody had ever done it before. But they were basically wanting to know who bought what food and when. When they finally did analysis on it, it not only told them what was their most popular items for sale but it gave them a very good idea about their daily traffic.
Prior to this, they only had daily summary data. We broke it down to 15 minute intervals during a day. Since the average store was open 16 hours a day, that obviously that produced about 64 times as much data as they ever analyzed before.
Now here’s where the magic happened. They used to hire people to work 8 hour shifts if they were full time and 4 hour shifts if they were part time. So you’d have a manager come in at 5 to open and work until 1 or 2. Then there would be a part-timer working from 5 to 9, then another 9 to 1, etc. The night manager would close the store at 10 and work till 11. Hard work. Until we did inter-day analysis on the bigger data set, we had no objective way to see what the managers and part-timers could kind of see, which was:
- People wanted breakfast food past 10AM
- People wanted lunch food before 10AM
- People started eating lunch around 11, not just after noon.
- Sometimes people were changing shifts during periods of high activity.
The last point was huge. Think about it. You’re standing in line to order and suddenly when there were two people at registers, one of them closes and it’s like sorry, time for me to go home. They fixed that right away.
Basically Carl’s ended up not only changing what food was served, but also hiring people for shorter periods. We proved that a store could be more efficient and profitable by having three managers in shifts that overlapped when foot traffic and drive-thru traffic peaked, which was not around the traditional times expected.
Remember also that entry level people working the morning shift were not necessarily trained to cook lunch or dinner food. Big difference. So essentially we changed the definition of ‘breakfast’ and found a much more efficient way to schedule work, that resulted in part-time staff getting cross-trained for multiple shifts which gave them more flexibility.
Carl’s went on to do other IT stuff too. They were a lot earlier than McDonald’s in allowing customers to swipe their own debit cards at the register. And if you know Carl’s, their menu includes all kinds of crazy burgers and Mexican food too. So training their cook staff to be flexible paid off. Their menu is a lot more flexible than others.