What is operational resilience and why should restaurants measure it?


Let’s say you run a cafe that offers a variety of customizable lattes. Guests can choose from a healthy selection of toppings – such as whipped cream, sprinkles, and caramel drizzle.

However, with those optional toppings, the operations team faces a dilemma.

If the team focuses on speed, the throughput will increase and yield higher revenue, but the staff has a greater chance of missing one of the toppings or getting the order wrong entirely.

If the team focuses on order accuracy, the item-level satisfaction will increase, but your throughput will decline and guests may complain about longer wait times.

The logical question in response is as follows: How do you find the balance?

As it turns out, that’s the wrong question to ask.

The correct question that most restaurants miss isn’t about balancing order accuracy and speed of service, it’s this: Do all these build steps even matter in the first place?

Returning to our cafe example, the question to ask is: Do the three types of toppings – whipped cream, sprinkles, and drizzle – help or hurt the overall product satisfaction? Does their inclusion or exclusion impact guest satisfaction at all?

I’ll provide those answers later. But first, I’d love to introduce the key metric that I developed to address this common challenge found at restaurants.

I call it: Operational Resilience.

What Is Operational Resilience?

Operational Resilience is a metric that measures the impact of the guests’ perceived accuracy of a product on the total satisfaction of the guests’ experience.

In other words, if a product isn’t perfectly executed according to the brand standards (e.g. missing ingredient, overcooked, etc.), will the guest continue to view the product as high-quality and enjoy their overall experience?

Going back to the cafe example, if we only get two of the three toppings correct, would it hurt the guests’ perception of order accuracy, product quality, and the overall experience?

I call this Operational Resilience because a resilient product would still deliver a great guest experience, regardless of operational errors.

Why Does Operational Resilience Matter?

While restaurant brands pass rigid standards down to franchisees and General Managers, there will always be an element of human error in the execution of the products.

The beautiful thing about the Operational Resilience metric is that it reveals how much you can simplify product builds without hurting the guest experience, allowing you can reap the following benefits that are crucial to any restaurant’s operations.

1. Improve accuracy with better muscle memory.

By simplifying the build process and – ideally – limiting the range of customization, your kitchen staff can foster better muscle memory, as they would have a greater repetition of items with the same steps on each order. Over time, this would significantly improve product accuracy.

2. Save on food costs.

With rising food costs being one of the biggest threats to restaurant margins, any opportunity you have to reduce food costs by removing certain ingredients or steps would add up in the long run. If you perform an Operational Resilience Analysis on each menu item, there is no telling the aggregate cost savings your brand could realize.

3. Eliminate additional training.

Because Operational Resilience affects restaurants at the product level, any improvements would come from nuanced optimizations to the menu mix or recipe at the brand level – not from training and retraining at a store level. This is yet another area in which this metric can save time, money, and labor.

How Do You Measure Operational Resilience?

Because Operational Resilience works to draw a relationship between a product’s accuracy and overall guest satisfaction, you must first have metrics measuring those two things.

For accuracy – which most closely represents whether your location-level team members are making an item to the brand standard – consider Tattle’s menu item-level feedback. With this, you can collect and measure the accuracy rating on each product, along with the overall satisfaction of guest experiences that involve said product.

Alternatively, you can estimate a product’s accuracy by isolating single-item tickets’ accuracy ratings, or tickets where the product is the hero product. The downside with this solution is that it requires an incredible amount of data to achieve statistical significance.

So, we have our data – now, how do we come to our Operational Resilience metric?

It’s very simple. We split the accuracy ratings of our individual menu item into two groups: “5 Stars” and “4 Stars or Less.” Because these accuracy ratings are part of a broader guest experience, we divide that broader experience (Overall Satisfaction) into the same two groups.

Then we arrive at the matrix below.

This Operational Resilience is determined by the bottom left cell, which is highlighted above. The higher that percentage is, the more likely a less-accurate execution will still yield a high satisfaction.

Generally speaking, anything greater than 20% has very strong resilience. Between 10-15% is decent resilience, though testing the item with fewer build steps would bring additional clarity. Anything less than 10% is a product that requires extremely precise execution to be seen as high quality.

If you’re looking to perform this analysis on your menu items, tap the Tattle team or I and we can work with you to collect the data needed.

Returning to our cafe example, let’s say the Operational Resilience for the three-topping latte is a healthy 17%. Because you don’t need all three toppings to maintain a high perception of the product and brand, you would try to reduce the toppings down to two, testing whether the guest experience suffers. It likely won’t.

As a result, not only have you improved accuracy, speed of service, and throughput, but you’ve also decreased food costs and simplified the processes for your kitchen staff.

How Do You Implement Operational Resilience?

When getting started, it can feel daunting to perform an Operational Resilience analysis for each item on the menu. Here’s my personal recommendation to restaurant leaders: start by examining your newly-installed items or Limited-Time Offers (LTO).

With new menu items and LTOs, your teams haven’t fully developed their muscle memory, meaning the likelihood for accuracy issues would be higher than legacy menu items. This provides a great opportunity to assess the extent to which accuracy issues are impacting the overall guest experience.

This methodology will enable your brand to quickly course-correct, identify gaps in training and guidance, and discover things that cause operational breakdown early on. For example, you may want to rearrange the layout of the ingredients so common pairings are close together, make sure the most frequently used ingredients are always topped up, or adjust the meal packaging to make it easier for your team members to quality check the finished products.

By simplifying things for your team members, you’re setting them up for success.

I hope you find this article helpful. The Tattle team and I are always willing to chat and answer any additional questions. Simply get in touch by filling out the form on this website.