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May 21, 2024

S2E33 - Lowering Your Restaurant’s Labor Cost While Improving Retention

Learn expert strategies on reducing labor costs and boosting employee retention in the restaurant industry.

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Logo blanc WISK-> All episodes <-

May 21, 2024

S2E33 - Lowering Your Restaurant’s Labor Cost While Improving Retention

Learn expert strategies on reducing labor costs and boosting employee retention in the restaurant industry.

Lien vers le lecteur Podcast d'AppleLien vers le lecteur Podcast de SpotifyLien vers le lecteur Google Podcasts

Notes du spectacle

Jim Taylor, founder and CEO of Benchmark Sixty Restaurant Services, shares his journey in the restaurant industry and the lessons he has learned along the way. He emphasizes the importance of people and data in the industry and how they can drive success. Jim also discusses the services provided by Benchmark Sixty, including improving productivity and addressing cost of goods sold (COGS) in restaurants. He encourages collaboration and staying on top of industry insights to drive innovation and growth.

Takeaways

  • The restaurant industry is all about people, and retaining and protecting employees is crucial for success.
  • Understanding and managing data and information is essential for improving productivity and making informed decisions.
  • Benchmarking against oneself is more valuable than comparing to others, as each restaurant has unique factors that affect performance.
  • Addressing workload and preventing burnout are key to reducing staff turnover and improving employee satisfaction.
  • Collaboration and sharing insights within the industry can lead to innovation and growth.

Timestamps

00:00 Introduction

01:19 Early Career in the Restaurant Industry

03:41 Lessons Learned in Restaurant Management

06:50 Founding Benchmark Sixty Restaurant Services

08:21 Benchmark Sixty’s Lane and Focus

10:33 Improving Productivity in Restaurants

12:36 Process of Working with Restaurants

16:26 Addressing Staff Turnover in the Restaurant Industry

21:39 Client Success Story

24:46 Dealing against the External Factors for the Restaurants

26:41 Facing the Challenge of P&L, Data, and Reporting

27:59 How To Reach Benchmark Sixty

29:31 How Benchmark Sixty Stayed on Top on Trends and Insights

30:24 Helping Restaurants with COGS

31:47 Future Plans for Benchmark Sixty

33:17 Advice for the Restaurant Industry

Ressources

Check out Jim Taylor on LinkedIn!

Follow Jim Taylor on Instagram!

Learn more about Benchmark Sixty

Transcript

Jim Taylor [00:00:00]:

They all have load management strategies in place in one way or another, right? Whether it's minutes on the field or minutes on the court or for goalies and hockey, it's how many games in a row have they played in that? Those types of things. And what they're really trying to do is prevent burnout and injury so that their athletes can perform. Right. And so we're doing the same thing from a data perspective in restaurants, saying, if we can keep your team within this, under this threshold, we know that workload won't impact things like customer spend, service levels, Google reviews, whatever it might be. There's all of these connective pieces. So what we're really trying to do is prevent burnout and in some cases injury of employees so that they stick around.

Angelo Esposito [00:00:46]:

Welcome to Wisking It All with your host, Angelo Esposito, co-founder of WISK.ai, a food and beverage intelligence platform. We're going to be interviewing hospitality professionals around the world to really understand how they do what they do. Welcome to another episode of Wisking It All. We're here today with Jim Taylor, founder and CEO of Benchmark Sixty Restaurant Services. Jim, thanks for joining us.

Jim Taylor [00:01:16]:

Angelo, it's good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Angelo Esposito [00:01:18]:

Absolutely. I'm super excited. I mean, just to maybe kick things off, I always like to understand how people got in the industry. So maybe just a quick background on the moment you realize that the restaurant industry was your calling.

Jim Taylor [00:01:31]:

Yeah, I was that. Yeah, it's kind of a good story. I think I was that guy who, or that kid, I guess, who my parents taught me to open beer and wine bottles when I was about twelve years old so I could help them at their Christmas parties and that kind of thing. Right. So I kind of got into the whole service industry, for lack of a better way to put it, when I was pretty young and then started working in full service restaurants in high school and never looked back.

Angelo Esposito [00:01:55]:

Wow. And so how old are you when you first started from going to doing a bit of work like that to working your first restaurant job?

Jim Taylor [00:02:02]:

Let's say I was a bus boy when I was 15. I was washing dishes and stuff like that when I was 1516, same kind of thing. And then started doing more, getting into a little bit of responsibility and some management exposure and shift lead type stuff when I was 1920 and that kind of thing. So I've been doing it a long time.

Angelo Esposito [00:02:22]:

Really cool. And I know, you know, your journey from a host to the being the executive regional manager at Cactus club cafe is super inspiring. So I'd love to maybe chat a bit about that. Maybe we can just jump into maybe what that looked like, how you worked your way up the ranks, and then maybe we'll get a bit deeper into some lessons you learned along the way, which I'm sure there's many, but we could probably go through a few.

Jim Taylor [00:02:44]:

Yeah. I was going to school when I started working with cactus. It was either 99 or 2000, not to date myself, and the company was just starting to hit pretty good growth stride. At that point. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for a living. I mean, probably a familiar story for people in restaurants. I'm not sure what I want to do. I have fun here, my friends work here, I make good money here, all that kind of stuff.

Jim Taylor [00:03:09]:

I just decided at the time, I'm just going to say yes to whatever opportunity gets put in front of me. And so I started moving around with the organization when I was still, I don't know, I was maybe 21 or 22. I moved to Victoria, western Canada, did an opening. Then I moved back to where I was from originally in Calgary. Then I moved to Vancouver. Then I would kind of all over the place just pursuing the next opportunity and because there was a growing organization and there was lots of that stuff.

Angelo Esposito [00:03:39]:

Wow, that's super cool. And I know obviously working up the ranks, you probably learned along a lot along the way. So I love to hear once you were kind of that executive regional manager, what were some lessons or some takeaways? And again, I know there's probably way too many to list, but because we have so many restaurant listeners, I always like to share some nuggets kind of learned. So anything that when you look back, any highlights or any anecdotes you want to share more than welcome.

Jim Taylor [00:04:06]:

I mean, you're right, there's so many lessons, you know, whether it's growth related or people related or concept related, I mean, you could go a thousand different ways. But I think the two things that really have stuck with me, you know, through that operational experience and then into sort of running my own business the last three or four years, one of them is that this industry, more than anything else, is it's all about people. And, you know, it's easy to say that, but I really, truly believe that that retention of people and protecting our people in this industry so that they want to stick around and make it a better place is more important than anything else. One of our company sort of taglines is that retention is the new cool and we've got t-shirts and the whole thing, it's just very important. And the other thing that, and you'll probably like this, and I think that the industry is starting to head more in this direction, is that the data and information is just the most valuable thing that you can learn how to understand or manage. And I learned that in lots of different ways. Doing multi unit management where we thought this is the same concept, it's the same menu, it's the same pricing model in almost the same market even, but it's two completely different businesses, even though the rest of it looks the same. Right.

Jim Taylor [00:05:21]:

Because there's so many variables and different pieces of information there.

Angelo Esposito [00:05:25]:

Right. And then I'm always curious what were, you know, I'm sure there's similar metrics, but what, what were some metrics that you typically looked at when you were looking at the health of a restaurant? Like what were the KPI's that really kind of mattered to you?

Jim Taylor [00:05:37]:

Well, I was lucky to be involved in some cool projects with cactus at the time and definitely since then, since with Benchmark Sixty we do this stuff all the time. But I think the industry typically looks at things like labor cost or cost of goods or net profit or those types of the big needle movers. Right. But where I really believe that there's so much more value is take cost of goods, for example. Rather than looking at or measuring food cost, let's look at the variance to theoretical food cost. Because if we can manage that number, then we're going to be far more successful. Plus the customer determines what your actual food cost is going to be just as much as your employees do. And the same thing with the labor model, we could think that the industry standard labor cost for a full service restaurant might be, I don't know, 32% or whatever.

Jim Taylor [00:06:30]:

It might be probably higher than that now. But if we can figure out how productive the restaurant is or what things like how hard the team has to work in order to accomplish those labor goals, if we can manage those, then the bigger number and the needle mover number has become easier to manage.

Angelo Esposito [00:06:48]:

That makes sense. Yeah, that makes sense. And shifting gears going into maybe Benchmark Sixty. So maybe just to start off and we'll go into on a deeper side here, all the metrics and the stuff you guys measure and how you help, but how do you guys come up with that name? It's pretty unique name. I'd love to hear the story behind it.

Jim Taylor [00:07:07]:

Well, so when, when I left my ops career, I knew I wanted to help the industry. I wasn't sure what that was going to look like I didn't have, you know, this grand business idea or something like that. I just knew I wanted help. And probably similarly to lots of people in the industry, I had friends who. It was 2020, right? Friends whose restaurants were being destroyed right in front of them. So I just wanted to help, and I didn't know what that looked like. I started doing some sort of consulting because it just kind of organically happened. People asked for.

Jim Taylor [00:07:37]:

I was lucky. I had some people ask for some help and that kind of thing. But the name actually came early in 2021. I thought we were going to go down the path of digital course creation. I thought we were going to build mini courses and those types of things to help restaurant operators understand better what was going on. And because we do so much benchmarking, obviously that's where that part of the name came from. But the goal was that whatever we were doing, it would roi in 60 days. Whatever they paid for the product we built, it would roi in 60 days or less.

Jim Taylor [00:08:10]:

So that's where that part of the name came from. And then we shifted away from the course building thing because there was more advisory type stuff that was happening, and the name just kind of stuck.

Angelo Esposito [00:08:21]:

I mean, I love the name. I just always love hearing the story behind it. That's pretty cool. That's awesome. And so, and so, yeah. Going into Benchmark Sixty, right, so now you kind of veer away from the courses, you realize, like, you can be way more impactful by, you know, advising and consulting these restaurants. So what does that look like? Right. I know there's a lot of, let's say.

Angelo Esposito [00:08:41]:

Well, not a lot, but there's a good amount of, let's say, restaurant consultants. But what would you say, benchmarks? This 60 focuses, like, what's, what's your, what's your lane? What do you guys do? Well, love to hear kind of the pitch behind that.

Jim Taylor [00:08:52]:

It's 90% of the work that we do is virtual advisory on, really labor model more than anything else. And so we help, and I kind of mentioned these a little bit a few minutes ago. But the two things that we spend the most time working with restaurant teams to understand is, one, what the concept of productivity looks like from a measurement perspective in a restaurant and what it does to the business model. So we can help from a data perspective, help an operator understand how to improve the overall level of productivity in the business, which will then help to negate rising costs. So, for example, if minimum wage is going up, which there could be listeners all over the place here. But it's going up again in British Columbia in the spring. It's going to $20 an hour in California coming up soon. The way that operators so often, and I used to be guilty of this, too, the first thing we think of is, well, I just have to raise prices, or I'm going to run with one less person every shift.

Jim Taylor [00:09:49]:

Right, right. And neither of those necessarily are. Sometimes they can be both be detrimental to the business. So what we help them do is organize data in a way that'll give us a way to measure how productive the business is. And if we can increase that by 5%, for example, we can negate a huge amount of increasing cost without raising prices and without sending someone home and everybody else having to work harder.

Angelo Esposito [00:10:15]:

That's interesting. Cause those are the two things I think come to everyone's mind, even my mind, when I think about, okay, I was gonna have to pass it on to the customer by raising prices. Or, you know, instead of three people, two people, maybe look at, you know, lunch service versus dinner or whatever. But, yeah, it's definitely the de facto thought that comes in. So that's. So how do you guys think about maybe, you know, not asking for your secrets here, but maybe you can give away some examples. Yeah. What are some examples of maybe a client where you were able to help with productivity just to give the listeners some ideas?

Jim Taylor [00:10:46]:

Yeah, sure. Well, I mean, the easy way that most restaurants measure productivity, whether they call it this or not, is they'll look at things like sales per labor hour in the kitchen. How much food do we have to produce by labor hour in the front of house? We help operators quite often. Look at that from a covers perspective. How many covers is your restaurant serving per average employee hour work? And it gives us a ratio. It gives us a score. Right. So let's say you're serving five customers per employee hour, worked for the course over the course of a whole week.

Jim Taylor [00:11:15]:

Well, we would look at things like, how many customers are you serving? And is there a way that you could manage your customer better? And what I mean by that is things like, if you seat, if a restaurant operator seats a group of two at a table that's designed for four, they've automatically cut the productivity of that table in half. They've made it twice as hard to be profitable. Right. Another thing we would look at is, or a question that we would ask would be, how often do you think that customers might walk up to the front entrance of a restaurant, ask, how long is the wait time? And not, like, the answer. And if they don't like the answer, they leave. Right. So we would look at things like all of these different measures and strategies and things that happen in restaurants and go. We could probably, if we had focused on some of these things, find a way to serve two, four, six more customers a day, even.

Jim Taylor [00:12:10]:

And if we do that while running the restaurant the same way, that ratio changes and maybe it gets us to 5.1 customers per hour worked well, that's an increase in how productive the business is without spending more to accomplish it. So we help them understand from a data perspective what all of those different things are doing. Does that make sense?

Angelo Esposito [00:12:32]:

Yeah, that makes it tough.

Jim Taylor [00:12:33]:

We're talking about.

Angelo Esposito [00:12:33]:

Yeah, I love that. I love that. And so when you first go into a restaurant, what is, what is your process, let's say, at a high level look like? And I guess, let me ask, what type of restaurant is it mainly full service, fast casual, bit of everything? Is it group? So I'd love to hear, like, who is ideal? And then what does that process look like when, when you kind of go in day one?

Jim Taylor [00:12:53]:

First of all, to answer the question of what kind of restaurant, any restaurant, if they have employees and they have customers. Yeah, we can help. We can help because there's four core data points that we would look at to help move the needle and get an understanding customer count, employee hours, and then things like average wage and average spend. Right. Or total revenue and payroll amount. You know, same kind of thing. But because what we're really trying to do is move that needle on that ratio to improve the overall level of how productive the business is. So we go in and we go through a process that we call concept clarity.

Jim Taylor [00:13:25]:

Is it white tablecloth?

Angelo Esposito [00:13:26]:

Is it a pub?

Jim Taylor [00:13:27]:

Is it a quick serve place? Is it in a fast food spot in a Walmart? Is it. It could be anything, right? It could be a coffee shop. Because what we really want to understand first is what type of environment is this? How does the staff need to act in order to accomplish the operation? How does their customer act when they come in? Right. And, you know, really try to get an idea. And then we set benchmarks. Forget the industry, forget the rest of the organization or locations in the organization. We set benchmarks for each individual business. So we've worked with companies that have 100 locations and they have 100 different targets.

Angelo Esposito [00:14:04]:

That's interesting. I want to hear a bit more about that because I like the idea of obviously benchmarking against yourself. And so you have a starting point, and now you can see if you improve. But what do you think about. I see one thing that's common is, especially when there's a group, is they'll kind of look at similar, at least geographies or regions or maybe type of stores, let's say, within their portfolio, and they'll kind of benchmark, I don't know, let's say, purchase data versus sales data, and like, why is this store purchasing double but their sales are less, or things like that? So when do you. I like the idea of you just using individual stores, but when or why do you not use, you know, maybe some of that comparative data?

Jim Taylor [00:14:41]:

Well, I think the comparative data is important to look at. It's important to understand, but it's really also important to not use it as blanket targeting.

Angelo Esposito [00:14:50]:

I see.

Jim Taylor [00:14:51]:

What I. What I mean by that is if we have the same company, the same concept, the same menu, the same pricing and wage structure, you know, all of these, the same square footage, the same number of tables or seats, all of it's the same.

Angelo Esposito [00:15:05]:

Right.

Jim Taylor [00:15:05]:

But one restaurant has, let's say, the kitchen walk in cooler is in the basement and the other one, it's 5ft behind the back of the line. That is going to require a different approach to manage that space in order to get the same result on food quality and ticket times. So if we just go and say your total labor target is 35% or whatever the number might be one of those locations, there's a chance that they don't. They're actually maybe leaving money on the table because it kind of comes easy based on the layout. The other one might actually have to run short staffed on purpose just to hit that target.

Angelo Esposito [00:15:44]:

Got it. So you'll use it, you'll look at it, obviously, to have an idea and then something. But that's not the benchmark. That makes sense. That's a pretty interesting approach.

Jim Taylor [00:15:53]:

So we would reverse engineer that and maybe say to one of them, the most responsible labor target for this layout might be 36.5%, but the other one might be 34.

Angelo Esposito [00:16:04]:

That makes sense. And I know one of the big themes now in the industry, I mean, honestly, just in general, but specifically in the restaurant industry, is labor shortages or revolving doors, as people like to say. It's hard to keep staff. And I know you're a strong advocate of not just retaining employees, but really making sure their workload is manageable. So I'd love to know, like, what made you, number one, focus on that. You know, what got you focusing on that? And then, like, tell me, tell me a bit more about like, how you go about making that a reality. How do you make the workload manageable?

Jim Taylor [00:16:35]:

Kind of a good, interesting story because it happened. We tripped over this.

Angelo Esposito [00:16:40]:

Okay.

Jim Taylor [00:16:40]:

So going back, you know, a few years, we were doing a bunch of research on how to, like I said, if we don't want to raise prices and we don't want to cut staff, how do we negate these rising costs? And we really were working a lot on this concept of the productivity metric and how to leverage it and use it to negate rising costs. And what we started to understand and notice is that there's a threshold that you can't really see out the gate and you can't blanket. Again, every location has to be the same level, but there's a certain sort of invisible threshold where when you cross it from a workload or productivity perspective, it becomes a workload issue, and certain connective data points start to pop up. Things like the customer average spend starts to decline because we can't get there quick enough to sell them something. We're spread too thin.

Angelo Esposito [00:17:33]:

Interesting.

Jim Taylor [00:17:33]:

Or employee sentiment starts to change, or sick calls or people, that turnover rate starts to increase. So we start to see these things start to connect, and we can actually set what we call the optimal productivity zone is this area where we know that productivity is at a good level, and we can use that to help control profit and negate rising cost. But we're not creating a workload issue that will damage spend, increase turnover, and those types of things. So we really helped to find that sweet spot where things just become more predictable from a data perspective.

Angelo Esposito [00:18:07]:

Makes sense from what you've seen in the industry. What would you say are the main causes behind, you know, so much to have turn over?

Jim Taylor [00:18:16]:

Well, I mean, there's. There's so many moving parts, right? I mean, there's leadership, there's decision making. There's, you know, even giving, you know, somebody a 15 table section on a Friday night and they have a terrible day and they, you know, other people calling in sick and causing issues and stress, there's so many moving parts. But, you know, we really believe, because we see this in the data all the time, that inconsistent workload. But really that operating in this, I'm trying to run lean because I'm trying to be profitable and not really having a full understanding what that causes is a big part of the problem. So the analogy I always use is, depending on which pro sport someone might follow, they all have load management strategies in place in one way or another, right? Whether it's minutes on the field or minutes on the court or, you know, for goalies in hockey, it's how many games in a row have they played in that? You know, those types of things. And what they're really trying to do is prevent burnout and injury so that their athletes can perform. Right.

Jim Taylor [00:19:18]:

And so we're doing the same thing from a data perspective in restaurants, saying, if we can keep your team within this, under this threshold, we know that workload won't impact things like customer spend, service levels, Google reviews, whatever it might be. There's all of these connected pieces. So what we're really trying to do is prevent burnout and in some cases, injury of employees so that they stick around.

Angelo Esposito [00:19:44]:

That makes sense. And it's funny because another theme that I've seen in the restaurant industry is that, you know, it's a. Which is false, but the theme of, like, hey, this is a part time thing, you know, like, it's like, it's not a career. It's something I'll do for now and obviously not the case. Right. A lot of people work the way up the ladder and there's great opportunities. But why do you think that is? Why do you think in the restaurant industry, it's somehow there's that perception that people have that it's like, there's not a clear career path. I'm curious to get your point of view on that.

Jim Taylor [00:20:15]:

Well, I mean, I think back to when I was going through that decision, I literally justified getting into management because the bank would like that I was on salary, and I would also be able to go to the dentist and have benefits. Right. But the interesting thing about that is that the second I told people I was going to get into a management position in restaurants, everyone went, why don't do it? My parents said, are you sure you want to do that? You know, all my peers were like, you're gonna take a pay cut. Why would you do that? So, you know, I think some of it is that this, the system of hospitality in North America, is kind of flawed a little bit in terms of encouraging career growth.

Angelo Esposito [00:20:55]:

Right.

Jim Taylor [00:20:56]:

Some of its financial, you know, some of its workload. It's not perceived as a real job. There's lots of those things.

Angelo Esposito [00:21:02]:

That's interesting. Yeah. It always fascinated me because it's like, there are, like, some awesome career paths, but there's a bit of that. That stigma sometimes where it's like, you know, it's not a real job, but it's like, you know, there's people who have done tremendously well, and then there's lots of different paths you can go, so. I always find that interesting.

Jim Taylor [00:21:20]:

Yeah.

Angelo Esposito [00:21:21]:

But, yeah, going back to Benchmark Sixty, so I love, you know, now we kind of got a sense of what you do. You go in the 60 days, you know, before they can kind of see some type of Roi, which is awesome. Really data driven. So I'd love to hear if you can. I know sometimes it's hard in the moment to think of a specific story, but if there's any, like, anecdotes that come to mind, you don't have to mention client names, but any recent anecdotes that come to mind of, like, hey, this is a client. This is where they're at. This is what we're able to do, because I find it's always helpful to paint that picture. So, again, no pressure.

Angelo Esposito [00:21:52]:

I know on the spot, it's hard to maybe think, but do any come to mind?

Jim Taylor [00:21:55]:

Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, there's so many examples, right? I mean, I could start with a single unit restaurant. They're doing a couple million dollars a year in revenue. They're one of those places that they're kind of seasonal, right. Because of the market they're in, because of the concept they are. They're sort of like this. Things ramp up through the spring and summer. Everybody's happy we're making money, and then hold on as tight as you possibly can for 90 days through the winter or something like that. You know, when we first started speaking to them, they literally said, our concept loses money in the winter.

Jim Taylor [00:22:33]:

It was not a, we think it will. We're worried it does. It was just a statement. It was just, this is just what happened.

Angelo Esposito [00:22:41]:

And, like, January, February, march kind of thing, or, like, even. Okay.

Jim Taylor [00:22:44]:

Yeah.

Angelo Esposito [00:22:45]:

Post Christmas, like, and so the first.

Jim Taylor [00:22:48]:

Thing we did with them is we said, okay, well, let's figure out. Let's just do a bit of an analysis on what's happening. What is, how productive is the business from a data perspective? Let's just look at it. Yeah, we never stepped foot in the restaurant. We're not there judging people or anything like that. It's just, let's look at what's happening. And we just start by saying, if we found in a $2 million a year business that's generating 2 million in revenue, if we find a 5% improvement in productivity, which is small enough that the employees and the guests would never even notice, we're going to be able to find about a $45,000 opportunity, depending on wage and pricing strategy. So we said well, are you losing more than $45,000 in three months? No.

Jim Taylor [00:23:30]:

Perfect. There's an opportunity to help fix that problem, and it's more about, you know, part of what the challenge was in that environment in the winter was part of it was actually turnover driven because they had to squeeze their team so much that now they have to scramble to hire people again, which costs money, which they're paying recruiting fees and putting ads up and, you know, all of this different stuff, which is compounding that loss in the winter. Part of it, sure. Part of it's about revenue and cost management, but there was other pieces to it that's interesting.

Angelo Esposito [00:24:06]:

Yeah, yeah. It's funny because I'm based in Miami now, and so, you know, some people, I mean, here it's almost the opposite. But anyways, it's fun. It's crazy how much the weather can impact. But I grew up in Montreal. I spent a lot of time in Toronto. And it's, you know, it's patio season. Patio season sales are skyrocketed, and then Jan Femme march, things are worse.

Angelo Esposito [00:24:23]:

And it's funny to see, but it's so important to think about these things. I think about Miami and it's like, kind of the opposite. Summer's, like, too hot. So that's like our dead season here in Miami. Like June, July, August. Like, things are dead. And then, you know, more towards October, November, things pick up like crazy. December is nuts, and gen fem is fine and all that.

Angelo Esposito [00:24:41]:

But it's funny how. So, like, when you think about some of these factors, like, how, how do you encompass all these external factors? Right. I mean, I just named the weather as one example, but obviously there's, there's traffic and events nearby and whatever, staffing issues and minimum wage. So, like, how do you go about maybe thinking about all these external factors when you implement these strategies or suggest these strategies for these restaurants?

Jim Taylor [00:25:06]:

Yeah. Well, really, what we're trying to help a restaurant understand better is how to interpret the information and how to measure what's happening. We're not, I'll tell people this all the time. Our approach from a consultative perspective or advisory perspective is do with, not do for. So it's very collaborative. Yeah, it's, it's, it's not consulting by opinion. Okay. A lot of consultants operate, and I don't mean to.

Jim Taylor [00:25:35]:

This isn't meant to be in a bad way, but a lot of consultants operate based on experience. This is what I've done before, and I'll do it again. Yeah, our, our process is incredibly data driven. So there's no, it's not necessarily even prescriptive. It's what's happening right now. This is what the information is telling us. What would you like to try? And let's measure how well it works. And if it.

Jim Taylor [00:25:53]:

Because if it doesn't work, we'll know very quickly.

Angelo Esposito [00:25:56]:

That's interesting.

Jim Taylor [00:25:56]:

So that could be anything from. I want to put handheld iPads in every server's hand because I think it'll lower my labor cost. Well, let's actually measure how productive it makes the business first. That's interesting because there's other factors that could come up.

Angelo Esposito [00:26:10]:

Right.

Jim Taylor [00:26:11]:

So it helps to compartmentalize some of that information in a bit more digestible way.

Angelo Esposito [00:26:15]:

Yeah, that makes sense. And it's funny because I think about, like, the, the restaurant space, and I just think about, like, how many restaurants even, like, with WISK, like, when we deal with the restaurants. I mean, now, less. But there's a good chunk of them that don't even have or struggle to put together a P&L. Right. And so you think about, like, it's. It's so obvious that you need these things to run a business. But I'm curious, from your perspective, like, when you deal with these restaurants, do you ever kind of stumble on them that, like, okay, I need to help you, but you don't even have the data I need yet, or generally, the type of restaurants you help are big enough that they, they might not be clean, but they have the data, and you're able to kind of help right away.

Jim Taylor [00:26:58]:

Yeah, there's lots of ways I could answer that, but, I mean, we can. There's a lot, and there are lots of restaurants that struggle with reporting and P&L and lots of those things. Right. It's a real thing. So we'll quite often even create custom reporting for them. And all we need is access to their pos and their labor or scheduling tool. So quite often, we'll have an API that just says, here's the data, and we can produce some reporting really quickly without them having to do any work on it. To make that simpler, because it is a, you know, especially the independent restaurant operator, they're busy.

Jim Taylor [00:27:31]:

They don't have time. They're on the deep fryer on Friday, they're in the bar on Saturday. They're, you know, opening and closing. They're busy.

Angelo Esposito [00:27:37]:

And do you have any geographic bounds? Like, do you work in your general, you know, city or. Pretty much. You'll. You'll take on clients anywhere.

Jim Taylor [00:27:45]:

95% of the work is done remotely. So we can. We can work anywhere. So currently we work with restaurant groups in Canada, in the US, and in the UK. Got it. But, I mean, we can. We can operate pretty much anywhere.

Angelo Esposito [00:27:58]:

Okay, that's cool. And then for people listening, we're like, okay, this sounds interesting. I love this 60 day approach, this ROI driven approach, this data driven approach. What does the process look like? Where do they go? How do they kind of reach out to you or the company? Like, I'd love to just kind of plug, like for. Because I'm sure there's gonna be people like, this sounds interesting. I'd like to at least explore this. How can I get a hold of Jim or how can I learn more?

Jim Taylor [00:28:21]:

Yeah, well. Well, personally, I basically have a sort of personal belief that I'll never say no to a conversation. So even if there's just somebody with a question, they just don't worry about getting into some long term agreement. Let's just chat. Because we're just trying to help the industry move forward. I'm very active on LinkedIn. You can find me there. We have a website, benchmark six zero dot com.

Jim Taylor [00:28:45]:

And, yeah, I mean, we'd love to just help however we can, even if it means giving some stuff away, just good ideas. Right?

Angelo Esposito [00:28:53]:

Yeah.

Jim Taylor [00:28:53]:

Because the industry is changing so quickly. There's so much information to understand. It's such a fast moving place. Right.

Angelo Esposito [00:28:59]:

That.

Jim Taylor [00:29:01]:

Want to help however we can.

Angelo Esposito [00:29:02]:

That's awesome. And I know you're. You're also a keynote speaker and a podcaster as well, so. And often share insights and strategies. So, like, for, for people who want to follow you, where can they maybe check out your podcasts?

Jim Taylor [00:29:17]:

Our podcast, we're actually in the process of. We're about to launch a new one, so they'll have to sort of stay tuned for that.

Angelo Esposito [00:29:23]:

Okay, no problem.

Jim Taylor [00:29:24]:

But LinkedIn is the best place to follow. We've got lots of content daily, a couple of newsletters, and lots of, hopefully, good insight. Cool.

Angelo Esposito [00:29:31]:

I love that. And I gotta ask is, how do you stay on top of all these insights? Right. Things are always changing in the restaurant space. How do you stay on top of these trends and insights?

Jim Taylor [00:29:40]:

Someone actually asked me that yesterday. They're like, what do you read? Is it nations restaurant news? Is it Restaurants Canada publication? What is it? And I went, we just listen to our customers.

Angelo Esposito [00:29:48]:

It's awesome.

Jim Taylor [00:29:49]:

You know, they're all the same challenges and they're having those same, working through the same thing.

Angelo Esposito [00:29:54]:

So that makes sense. That makes sense. Cool. And then just, just kind of shifting gear. I know we spoke a bit about labor, a bit about strategies on how you can help restaurants. One of the other big things I just wanted to hit real quick was the idea of cogs. And so, you know, WISK helps cogs in many ways and with tech and whatnot. But I love to hear, like, how you think about it and what are some things you do to help restaurants? Because I know, generally speaking, rising costs are our major concern for restauranteurs.

Angelo Esposito [00:30:19]:

So, yeah, maybe we can dive into, like some strategies that you have seen or have implemented in some of your restaurant clients.

Jim Taylor [00:30:28]:

Yeah, you know what I think, because we're really specific on the actual work that we do, quite often from a cogs perspective, we'll encourage our clients to speak to partners of ours and experts that we would know are better at that than we are. But if somebody just says, hey, like, what should I be? Where do I start in terms of cogs, the two things that I always encourage them to think about. First one is that concept of food cost, for example, is, I mean, it's a math thing. It's obviously an equation based on what you're charging compared to what you pay for the product. But what really matters is how efficient you are with that product. So I always encourage people to think about the variance to your theoretical food cost versus the actual. And the second one is we just encourage people, if you're not doing it already, just pay really close attention to your weight, everything that becomes waste, because it can dramatically impact the cost of goods and it can add up really quickly.

Angelo Esposito [00:31:27]:

Yeah, I think the stats, and I mean, hopefully no one butcher, but I think it's roughly 40% of food purchased in restaurants go to go to waste. Something insane like that. So, yeah, definitely, definitely pay attention. Pay attention to that. Awesome. And last but not least, I always like to understand what's next for you. So just kind of looking towards the future. What's next for you? What's next for benchmark sixty?

Jim Taylor [00:31:53]:

You and I talked a little bit about this in another conversation, so thanks for bringing it up. But I really believe that there's an opportunity to help the mid market, independent part of the industry, specifically North America, that makes up, what, 60, 70? Almost even 80 sometimes, depending who you ask, percent of the industry that would never hire an advisor, hire an analyst, look for a consultant, or whatever that person or company might be. They're even hesitant to pay a few hundred dollars for multiple SaaS products and the costs add up. So we're working really hard on a couple of different iterations of ways that we can produce prescriptive reporting to that part of the industry that will, rather than them having to dig through data and sift through information and try and interpret what they're supposed to do with it, we'll put that together for them at a really easy to digest, really simple way. So we really believe that we really want to help that mid level part of the industry that's made up of independents.

Angelo Esposito [00:32:53]:

That's awesome. I love that. And then last but not least, just to wrap things up, I always like to leave on a positive note, maybe sharing some advice. Now, what's interesting about you is you worked in the industry for a very long time, early age, kind of, then worked up, went to the corporate side, and now you're doing your own thing. So you have a bit of everything from the restaurant experience to then that management to then now kind of being your own entrepreneur and building something from scratch. So any advice you could share to other people who are in the industry and either want to work their way up or maybe start their own thing?

Jim Taylor [00:33:24]:

Yeah, honestly, I think the one thing that I would just share, whether they're in operations or trying to do their own independent thing, it kind of applies either way, is just collaborate as much as you possibly can, whether that's the rest. If you're an owner operator and that's talking to the restaurant down the street about what they're doing that's working or not working, you're in an executive management role and there's somebody you know at another company, you're an entrepreneur and you're trying to find, you know, something, some way to move forward. I think that sometimes our industry is guilty of hoarding information and, you know, obviously it's competitive and that's all good. But we kind of, I believe that we, the more we stick together, the better. Yeah. So I always just encourage people to collaborate as much as they possibly can.

Angelo Esposito [00:34:05]:

I love that. I love that. Well, with that said, Jim, thank you for joining us. And once again, for everyone who wants to check it out, it's benchmarksixty.com. They're going to have a new podcast coming out soon, so stay tuned for that. And then if you're just curious and you want to reach out, so he could probably help your business. They could probably help your business. So feel free to reach out and inquire.

Angelo Esposito [00:34:26]:

Jim's super active on LinkedIn. Jim, you know, I follow you on LinkedIn, so I always love the stuff you post. So at the very least, if you guys are active on LinkedIn, feel free to follow Jim Taylor well, thanks for joining us and being on the Wisking It All show. I appreciate your time, Jim.

Jim Taylor [00:34:40]:

Thanks, Angelo.

Angelo Esposito [00:34:41]:

Feel free to check out WISK.ai for more resources and schedule a demo with one of our product specialists to see if it's a fit for.

Meet Your Host & Guest

Jim Taylor, CEO of Benchmark Sixty Restaurant Services

Jim Taylor, with over 20 years in the restaurant industry, fuels growth for leading brands and consults on industry changes. As CEO of Benchmark Sixty Restaurant Services, he drives innovation in productivity and employee management. Co-host of "Turning The Table" podcast and named a top business innovator in 2022, Jim emphasizes people-centric solutions and industry collaboration for a brighter future.

ANGELO ESPOSITO, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF WISK.AI

Meet Angelo Esposito, the Co-Founder and CEO of WISK.ai, Angelo's vision is to revolutionize the hospitality industry by creating an inventory software that allows bar and restaurant owners to streamline their operations, improve their margins and sales, and minimize waste. With over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry, Angelo deeply understands the challenges faced by bar and restaurant owners. From managing inventory to tracking sales to forecasting demand, Angelo has seen it all firsthand. This gave him the insight he needed to create WISK.ai.

Recent Episodes

S2E33 - Lowering Your Restaurant’s Labor Cost While Improving Retention

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Notes du spectacle

Jim Taylor, founder and CEO of Benchmark Sixty Restaurant Services, shares his journey in the restaurant industry and the lessons he has learned along the way. He emphasizes the importance of people and data in the industry and how they can drive success. Jim also discusses the services provided by Benchmark Sixty, including improving productivity and addressing cost of goods sold (COGS) in restaurants. He encourages collaboration and staying on top of industry insights to drive innovation and growth.

Takeaways

  • The restaurant industry is all about people, and retaining and protecting employees is crucial for success.
  • Understanding and managing data and information is essential for improving productivity and making informed decisions.
  • Benchmarking against oneself is more valuable than comparing to others, as each restaurant has unique factors that affect performance.
  • Addressing workload and preventing burnout are key to reducing staff turnover and improving employee satisfaction.
  • Collaboration and sharing insights within the industry can lead to innovation and growth.

Timestamps

00:00 Introduction

01:19 Early Career in the Restaurant Industry

03:41 Lessons Learned in Restaurant Management

06:50 Founding Benchmark Sixty Restaurant Services

08:21 Benchmark Sixty’s Lane and Focus

10:33 Improving Productivity in Restaurants

12:36 Process of Working with Restaurants

16:26 Addressing Staff Turnover in the Restaurant Industry

21:39 Client Success Story

24:46 Dealing against the External Factors for the Restaurants

26:41 Facing the Challenge of P&L, Data, and Reporting

27:59 How To Reach Benchmark Sixty

29:31 How Benchmark Sixty Stayed on Top on Trends and Insights

30:24 Helping Restaurants with COGS

31:47 Future Plans for Benchmark Sixty

33:17 Advice for the Restaurant Industry

Ressources

Check out Jim Taylor on LinkedIn!

Follow Jim Taylor on Instagram!

Learn more about Benchmark Sixty