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The Problem with Restaurant Quality Management Systems

written by:Eric Graves

A reliable quality management system (QMS) is a vital component of any successful organization, and the specifics of that system will differ greatly depending on the goods and services an organization provides. Within the restaurant industry, while many brands are still utilizing in-house developed processes, proactive companies have opted for more advanced systems from third-party providers to improve the effectiveness of their food safety and quality assurance programs. However, many companies who have used these third-party platforms often end up attempting to apply the standards of one industry to the needs of another, at great expense.

Quite often, restaurants adopt a very broad QMS designed to manage a range of unrelated industries. These systems are designed to handle applications as varied as pharmaceutical and biotechnology laboratories, food manufacturers, financial and banking implications, automotive, aerospace, and electronics manufacturers, and more. While these systems may have been designed to handle all a range of diverse industries, that diversity prevents them from mastering any single one. After lengthy implementations and initial investments, restaurants begin to realize the system they chose didn’t meet their needs and was never adopted throughout the organization, and by then it’s too late.

Even a QMS claiming to be specific to the food industry often has its downfalls. Food manufacturers have drastically different demands and regulations than do restaurants. Perhaps most importantly, the fact that restaurants are comprised of a chain of largely disconnected, independent units leads to the greatest challenge. A large restaurant chain consists of several hundred to several thousand units spread throughout a country. These units source ingredients from dozens of suppliers and coordinate with dozens of distribution centers (DCs) to deliver their products efficiently to maintain quality along the way.

If managing an efficient supply chain isn’t complex enough, when something does go wrong, the individual unit needs a way to communicate with corporate QA, the DC, and the supplier to resolve the issue and receive proper credit. The individual restaurant needs to be able to efficiently log these types of back-of-house supplier and DC complaints and track their progress to completion.

Furthermore, the restaurant industry deals with incredibly high turnover rates. The National Restaurant Association claims, “overall turnover rate in the restaurants-and-accommodations sector was 72.9 percent in 2016.” This means a QMS for a restaurant chain must be simple and efficient enough to be handled constantly by new employees, not just QA professionals and food scientists, while still conveying the necessary information needed by corporate QA to justify the issuance of a credit from the supplier or DC.

To combat this issue, a QMS must not only be restaurant industry specific, but specific to YOUR restaurant. Instead of drastically adjusting operating procedures to meet your QMS, an effective QMS must provide your business with customized options and configurations to meet YOUR needs for a seamless integration into your organization. From an outsider’s perspective, restaurants may seem to be similar in structure, but their policies, procedures, and even internal lingo vary drastically from one brand to the next. An efficient QMS must be able to capture these unique aspects of the organization to truly integrate itself within a restaurant chain and be fully adopted and utilized by the end users at the restaurant level.

The food service industry comes with its own unique set of circumstances and thus requires its own QMS, there is no one-size-fits-all. Actionable Quality Assurance (AQA), provides a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) QMS platform designed by restaurant professionals, for restaurant professionals. Our system is unique in the QMS industry as it is truly the only product offered specifically for multi-unit restaurant chains with custom configurations to meet the unique demands of each of our clients. Contact AQA today, schedule a demo, and control the future of your brand.

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