For the latest installment in our Crew Stories series, I’m excited to highlight the success of Pinehurst Donuts, a Dunkin’ franchisee that operates eight stores in North Carolina. We had a great time chatting with Ryan Tolbert, one of Pinehurst’s general managers, about how the organization uses Crew’s digital workplace solution to connect their frontline teams and improve operations. He described several ways Crew contributed to cutting 30 seconds off store drive-through times, boosting customer satisfaction by 30%, growing monthly sales 46%, increasing shift coverage 90%, and even dropping employee turnover more than 50%.
Here are some of my favorite excerpts from our conversation:
Crew: What were some of the day-to-day challenges that led you to implement Crew?
Ryan: Before, it was a headache just to get in touch with my team. I’d have to find their phone numbers and worry about if their phone was even turned on, or they were going to answer my call. It was a battle when I needed to reach everyone at once for store meetings or shift covers, because even when I’d send a mass text, sometimes those messages didn't go through and I wouldn’t know.
I'm really into phones and apps, so I was impressed with Crew’s accessibility the first time I saw it. When I became a store manager, it was the first thing I wanted to implement, because I knew it could make communicating with everybody so much easier. We have a meeting every third Wednesday of the month when all the store managers sit down and go over what’s coming up, things we need to work on, what we've improved upon, all that kind of stuff. One of the things we discussed multiple times was the Crew app, and over time, more store managers adopted it, until eventually, we decided to move the whole business over to the premium version so we could benefit from Crew Command Center’s broadcasts and multi-store insights.
It took just about a week and a half to get everyone using Crew, and now, whenever I hire new people, one of the first things I do is have them download the app. Right from day one, they have access to the schedule in the palm of their hands, and they see the benefits of how easy it is to get in touch and get a response from anyone.
Crew: Did you have any issues with scheduling and shift coverage before Crew?
Ryan: We used to print out schedules and put them on a bulletin board. I didn't like that process, so even before we had Crew, I tried to get people’s email addresses to send their schedules, but that wasn't foolproof either. These days, I post schedules to Crew every single week, and my team can check them right on their phones.
Before, when I had to find someone to cover a shift, I was never sure if people got my messages, or were just ignoring them. It was always a gamble, especially with finding people to fill in for our overnight bakers. Every day, I probably spent 30-45 minutes just trying to find covers, let alone waiting for them to actually get to the store. Now, I can just pop it in our group chat on Crew, or message somebody individually. And even if the first person I ask decides not to cover the shift, somebody else may read my message and say, "I can come in and do that." I also use the phone call feature in the app quite a bit, because if they are asleep then I'll wake up with that phone call. Now, I get 95% of shifts covered.
That’s great, because when we're short, we have to work that much harder and that much faster, which means we don't have as much one-on-one face time with guests to make them feel valued. If we're constantly understaffed, the crew's not going to be happy either, and they're not going to want to be there. So being able to actually reach out and get shifts covered in a timely fashion makes it better for not just me, but everybody.
Crew: What types of things do you communicate to your frontline via Crew?
Ryan: The most important thing is constantly communicating our drive-through times, because people don’t really pay much mind to papers up on the board. But every single day and every single week, I send out our averages to everybody on Crew. I say, "Hey, this is what our drive-through time was today. Great job." Or, "Our drive-through time was X seconds today, let's work on it, I know we can do better." I also like to find out what other stores’ times are and tell my team about that, saying, "The store in Sanford is doing good right now. Their drive-through time is X. We're going to beat that." We’ve turned speed-of-service around drastically as a result. Before, our goal was 150-second drive-through times for peak hours, but we’d be lucky to hit 180. As of right now, we're going on 18 weeks straight of being under that 150 goal.
Every 6-8 weeks we also get new promotions and limited time offers from Dunkin’ that
we're going to push. I use Crew to make sure everybody's trained on what's coming and what's leaving, by sending a link out to watch the training videos right there on their phones. That’s better than having to take 18 people off the floor to go sit in the office and watch a video one at a time, which would take up 3 hours every time there’s a 5-10 minute video to share. Since I joined this location and made changes like these, we’ve increased weekly sales from around $15,000 to $22,000.
Crew: How does Crew help with customer satisfaction?
Ryan: I look at our guest satisfaction surveys every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, just to make sure we're where we need to be. If I see a negative comment, I reach out to the people that worked during that shift and ask what was going on. And for positive comments, which we've been getting a lot more recently, I make sure to put those in our group chat on Crew, so everybody sees what was done right.
I give out several Crew Gold Stars every day to recognize things like guest comments, exceeding our drive-through time goals, and just whenever I see somebody have a really fun and good interaction with a guest. We’ve reached our goal of 75% positive guest satisfaction, which is up from 58% six months ago. Overall, I think the environment Crew helps me create is inviting, and people—both guests and team members—actually want to be here. Which is good, because I wouldn't want to work in a place where you were not allowed to actively engage with each other and have fun conversations.
Thank you to Ryan at Pinehurst Donuts, LLC for exploring how Crew helped your company drive better customer service, optimize staffing, and fuel employee engagement and motivation. Learn more in the customer story here.