K&S Restaurants operates 14 SONIC® Drive-Ins across Texas. Like most other quick-service restaurants, the company’s managers often found it difficult to keep their young part-time workers on the same page and hold them accountable. For example, employees often failed to follow official guidelines about calling in at least two hours before missing a shift, and managers frequently heard excuses like “I didn’t know I was scheduled to work today.”
This led to many last-minute shift cover scrambles, with up to 30% left understaffed. Every time they were short-handed, managers spent 30 minutes leaving voicemails for each team member, and then another hour just waiting for people to respond. They never knew whether anyone (or multiple people) would show up to cover, which made staffing levels unpredictable. After one general manager experimented with Crew’s frontline communications and scheduling app a few years ago, she started finding shift covers in five minutes and shared her success with above-store leaders. They quickly decided to leverage Crew Enterprise across the business.
Since Crew was one of the first mobile tools K&S deployed for its frontline, the company’s area supervisors took a thoughtful approach to the rollout. They started by meeting individually with each store team to explain the purpose of Crew and reassure them it was meant for communications, not monitoring. Even managers who were hesitant at first found Crew very intuitive and saw the benefits immediately. With Crew, they no longer had to chase down shift covers, hound people about trainings, or worry cashiers would get caught off guard by limited-time offers. They simply posted updates in the Crew app and could see right away who had read them and who hadn’t.
Rather than come into the store to get their schedules or review training materials, team members now have everything they need on their personal mobile devices at all times. Crew even notifies each employee two hours before their shift is scheduled to begin, which helps minimize late or missed shifts. And when someone does need a shift cover, managers simply post one request in Crew, and often get several volunteers. However, if their regular team is tapped out, Crew makes it easy to extend the request to nearby stores and find coverage.
“We were first sold on Crew for its ability to instantly distribute schedules to our teams, and since reaching over 80% adoption, the platform has exceeded our initial expectations. Crew continues to meet our needs, grow with us, and help K&S adapt to the tech-savvy lifestyle that’s prevalent amongst our front-line teams.”
Area Supervisor, Sonic® Drive-Ins
Communications and recognition keep everyone on the same page
Crew provides K&S with several pre-built groups for targeted team chats, including one for every store, for store managers across each area, and an organization-wide discussion thread. The company sends hundreds of messages and files through Crew every month, including:
Regular updates on where each store is at with their goals
Audio recordings of mystery shopper interactions with specific feedback
Raffle winner videos and Crew Gold Stars to incentivize great work
Reminders about national food safety audit procedures, safety meetings, and how to spot counterfeit bills, as well as
Promotion details, employee handbooks, and other important documents.
Consequently, teams are now better informed, connected, and engaged with the organization. “Crew gives us the ability to share kudos and communicate to our team that their efforts are an important piece of the K&S puzzle, and we’ve seen guest satisfaction improve as a result,” shared Bill Hayes, another area supervisor and general manager at K&S. “I always encourage employees to message me directly on Crew if they ever have questions or issues, which demonstrates that we have an open-door policy and care about being responsive to their needs.”
Seamless integration enables fine-tuned labor management
After this initial success with Crew, K&S wanted to take its technology stack to the next level in order to ensure they had the right people working at the right times. By adopting advanced labor management software from Infor, the company’s managers were able to move shift scheduling tasks out of Excel spreadsheets, better predict labor needs around key dayparts, and run the business more smoothly. Infor seamlessly integrates with Crew, providing automated workflows that start with building schedules in Infor and pushing them out via Crew at the tap of a button, all the way to synching shift changes between the two systems. This helps the franchisee group maximize labor efficiency, cover shifts faster, and save manager time.
In part thanks to the employee engagement driven by Crew, K&S saw its annual employee turnover drop by 23% last year—a major retention improvement in such a high-turnover industry. The business also went from leaving up to 30% of shifts understaffed, down to less than 5%. Finally, by better communicating schedules and optimizing labor allocation, K&S improved overall speed-of-service, achieving a 20% drop in late tickets and a corresponding increase in customer satisfaction.