How should the equipment monitoring practice be implemented in multi-unit food service operations?

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Food and Beverage equipment form a core part of any multi-unit food service operation. In 2024, the Operations teams of these entities are still following manual and on-site monitoring temperature monitoring for multi-unit food service operations. It should be distributed across operations, whereas it is de-centralized and manual now.

When it comes to multi-unit food service operations, the corporate office delegates operations monitoring to multi-unit managers, typically with different titles across different chains – Regional Operational Managers, District managers, Area managers, Franchise business consultants, and General Managers. These muti-unit managers are always on their toes going from store to store, province to province, and city to city, ensuring that operational efficiencies are achieved, and the brand reputation stays intact.

Right now, refrigeration temperature monitoring is left to in-store operations managers, whether it be corporate-owned, or franchisee-owned.

Corporate offices set up manual temperature monitoring logs and have in-store teams fill them periodically to ensure refrigeration loss is detected and corrected immediately. Typically, this manual temperature monitoring practice is monitored by multi-unit managers via daily or weekly updates from in-store operations managers or audits/inspections.

In a multi-unit restaurant business, thriving implies making each location, irrespective of whether corporate-operated or franchisee-operated, profitable every quarter and delivering a great customer experience in every customer visit. One undetected refrigeration loss can hamper these objectives. Equipment temperature monitoring has a key role in achieving these objectives.

In a multi-unit food service operation scenario, Equipment temperature monitoring is now confined to in-store with supervision from multi-unit managers. In-store staff miss taking a temperature reading or take erroneous readings and miss detecting refrigeration loss, corporate office and multi-unit management should be able to proactively detect this and avoid the store losing the inventory thereby avoiding the brand losing its reputation. In-store operations team detected an issue and raised an incident, but a multi-unit manager who is under travel and the head office can ensure that the incident is resolved, thereby ensuring the operation is intact. The in-store operations team has been incurring high equipment repair costs lately and that’s impacting the profitability. Multi-unit managers and head office can alert in-store about it and can propose repair vs replacement decisions for a piece of equipment.

IoT-sensor-based remote monitoring solutions can empower the multi-unit restaurant business to manage equipment temperature monitoring in a centralized approach, where head-office and multi-unit managers can get real-time equipment temperature values from all locations. However, moving the monitoring to entirely centralized through technologies such as IoT-sensor-based monitoring is going to add more burden to the head office and multi-unit management of the brand. Leaving it entirely with already busy on-site operations teams might give scope to erroneous monitoring and incomplete incident handling. A balanced approach towards equipment temperature monitoring is to be taken.

The equipment monitoring should be distributed with the core operation performed at the store level by in-house operations teams, whereas real-time supervision and intelligence can be supplemented by multi-unit management and the head office in real-time.

You have 30 stores under you and imagine you have a mobile-first automation tool at your fingertips that lets you know when there is a risk of food inventory loss or equipment downtime at any of your stores instantly and lets you ensure your store is not missing it and resolving it at priority. That’s the thriving genre of genius-grade monitoring that you should be looking at in times of increased competition and slim profit margins.