How Fuku uses frontline restaurant technology to keep their people informed.
"I was going to send out a message about our new menu change to the team at first. Then I decided an LTO course could be easily created and sent out. I won in more ways than I could ever imagine."
Frank Palmieri is Senior Director, People & Culture at Fuku. Fuku is a casual fried chicken concept by Chef David Chang's Momofuku Group. They’re on a mission to change the way people think about fast-casual.
Why Fuku went digital
Technology has always been a part of Frank’s personal life. During his second year at Fuku, he knew it needed to be efficiently integrated at work as well. Frank, like many other people in restaurant operations, worked heavily with paper training initially. In 2018, Fuku transitioned to a digital platform but wasn’t able to fulfill the many needs of their company. This platform had several limitations. Exam grading was strictly manual, there was little to no file visibility, and overall, it was too time-intensive
“If someone took a quiz, the only way to see what the answers were was to manually review it and then have someone kind of say, ‘Hey, these answers were wrong.’ It was too time-consuming.”
Training sometimes took 13-16 shifts to complete one course. It was impossible to assign members to training courses all while doing their daily tasks at the restaurant. In order to stay compliant, his frontline team needed to complete the entire course within 30 days of hire. For those who worked part-time, scheduling training days took away their hours at work. Frank’s managers attempted to be creative. The managers required frontline workers to take 3 hours out of their 10-hour shifts to complete the training. But with the various schedules, it was hard to keep track of skill verification and training completion.
In Frank’s early days at Fuku, training was complicated. One laptop. One hour-long training. One Room. 20 plus employees. There was no way to keep track of training accuracy and it was extremely difficult to keep employees engaged.
“Email, for a lot of our demographics in the restaurant, did not feel like the first choice.”
Before moving to a mobile-first platform, communication at Fuku relied on e-mail. Pew Research Center reports that 98% of Americans have a cell phone, and 85% have a smartphone. For every 1 email user in the United States, there are 2.5 cell phone users. The challenge with learning on desktop devices is that most employees don't have email to log in.
How has Opus made your job easier?
“I think the greatest thing about the platform is that we're able to kind of drive communication through this platform.”
Frank needed a way to communicate with his team efficiently and quickly. He wanted to avoid the distractions emails can sometimes cause. When it came to new menu changes, he needed a platform that can send out notifications, similar to the alert systems his team would get for social media and other uses. Frank’s managers utilized the Opus message blast feature to show step-by-step food preparation, without having to walk into the establishment. In one use case, Fuku launched their new breakfast sandwiches. Their managers need to share this information and train their team of 35. This manager was able to send out a quick video blast, showing every ingredient and step in making the sandwich. This feature brought excitement to the team as a whole. For Frank and the team at Fuku, multimedia “brought a little bit of fun and excitement to what we do.” Their training is now real-time, informative, and relevant. “It’s fun. It is the nice wrap and bow on top of a package.”
Frank uses Opus as a means to communicate not only with his frontline team but with the management as well. Frank distributes feedback surveys on a weekly basis to keep in touch with these managers. In real time, he is able to make necessary changes, implement new processes and report back to managers. For Frank, communication is now full circle: “I want to make sure that the people we put in these restaurants are getting everything that we intend out of training. The openness of the platform is helping me do that.”
“I love bringing lightless when it comes to training.I don't want to take ourselves too seriously, but we do take what we do seriously. There's this nice balance that Opus provides.”
Technology is constantly evolving. When it comes to training, Frank needed a platform that could keep up with current trends. Using Opus, Frank was able to keep the frontline team engaged, informed, and entertained through the use of multimedia integration. Mini-videos, GIFs, and images helped Fuku stay relevant with their frontline’s demographics. Frank states, “bringing in videos and photos has allowed us to expand what we are communicating to them.”
Saving Time and Increasing Engagement
“Opus is straightforward. It's straight to the point and extremely user-friendly. You don't want to spend too much time having to figure out the settings of a platform. You just want it to work. I think that that sometimes the simplest things are the things that kind of like make our world so much easier.”
Opus is used in nearly every process at Fuku. From onboarding to anti-harassment training, Frank and his managerial team find success throughout their use case. Frank recently had an orientation for 6 newly hired employees. From the moment they stepped into their new positions, they were introduced to each other and asked to open their phones and download the Opus platform. There, they were greeted with a video message from the administration and the entire corporate team. For Frank, this drove engagement. 100% of employees completed their training within 1 month at Fuku. What once took 10 shifts to complete training, is now being completed in under 40 minutes.
Frank is now able to have multiple members of administration and operations involved in the training process. “I've been able to pass off a lot of it to our director of operations. The ease of use of how to use Opus has really created a lot more possibilities for who's involved in the process because somehow some platforms could be quite complex and a little bit intricate to work with.”