The brand now reports a 98.1% retention rate in their training program.

Fast-casual concept NAYA Mediterranean, a fast-growing, 22-location brand based in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, has a tagline—”seriously wholesome”—that guides everything it does. From its scratch-made food, to its sustainable packaging, to its customer service, NAYA’s core philosophy is to deliver an uncompromising, top-notch dining experience to its guests.

As NAYA enters a rapid growth phase—it has nearly doubled in the past year, and will soon grow to 20 locations—replicating that “seriously wholesome” DNA has proven to be a challenge. For example, NAYA Mediterranean’s customer experience is built around team members providing hospitality on an interactive line, often building a customized order. Being able to execute NAYA’s guidelines requires thorough training, and the more employees that need to be hired to fill stores, the more necessary a standardized training process becomes.

“When I first joined, our training documents were on Google Drive, as we began to open more stores, it became clear that we needed a better system—it wasn’t working. There was really no way of knowing who had been trained on what, or how they had been trained, or if they’d been trained at all.” - Hilary Street

The lack of standardization when it came to training left NAYA in a place where it didn’t have adequate staffing in order to meet consumer demand. This didn’t make NAYA unique—quite the opposite. The National Restaurant Association recently reported that about 70 percent of operators did not have enough staff to properly run their restaurant.

In order to revamp NAYA’s training process and turn it into a core strength for the brand, Street went searching for training technology that would resonate with the team members she was hiring. She chose Opus, a mobile-first training platform built for businesses, like NAYA, that have a large deskless workforce. The platform has helped NAYA’s training program retention rate rise to 98.1 percent, meaning the brand is overwhelmingly getting employees onboarded in an efficient manner, setting them up for success from day one on the job.  

In this and many other ways, Street says Opus has exceeded her wildest expectations. In fact, she breathlessly raves about the platform:

“I can’t say enough,  I love working on Opus. It’s a very easy platform to navigate. There are so many great things it can do, we’re so excited about it.”

So what does Opus do to inspire such a reaction, and to help NAYA Mediterranean grow its brand in a consistent, standardized manner? The platform helps brands create training content in under 10 minutes and assign it to team members who complete it on their phone. This helps store managers focus on hiring and coaching, rather than trying to get employees logged into a desktop based system or use spreadsheets to track data on their team. Both Street and Sabedra report that team members have started getting excited to help be models for new tutorial videos, knowing it will be blasted out company-wide.  

“That’s something they really look forward to,” Street says. “You’ll have people saying, oh this was filmed in my store! It really brings it to life in a way that most platforms do not and cannot.”

From the management side of things, Opus has helped NAYA streamline keeping track of which employees have been certified on various aspects of the job. Getting training data on managers as well as frontline employees is critical to an effective training program for a fast-growing brand like Naya. Street also saves time with a library of video resources on how to have difficult conversations with employees, for example, or time management or PCI compliance. It’s resources like these that are helping train not just NAYA’s store-level employees, but its management team as well.

“You have to have a foundation, and that foundation starts with training,” Sabedra says. “We have plenty of leaders in our stores, but we need to coach them and with Opus, I really believe we’ll get there—training itself needs to be visual so that our team members can visualize it, hear it. I love that about Opus: any process can be inputted into it, you can communicate through it in a way that you just can’t via any other system or platform.” - Art Sabedra

This story was first published in QSR Magazine. You can find the article here.