Waffle House restaurants are a part of Americana.
They are featured in movies, such as Tin Cup with Kevin Costner. (“I’m a Waffle House guy. Got to stay in touch with that.”) Rosie O’Donnell recognized them on TV and received a “Waffles for Life” certificate. They are the favorite haunt of late night truckers and teenage pajama parties. Their black and yellow signs stand tall at interstate highway exits throughout the southeast and midwest.
When you visit one on a busy morning, you are greeted by a cacophony of sounds and smells that can only be described as chaotic. Waitresses bark patron orders across the kitchen to no one in particular. Cooks throw eggs and hash browns on the grill in rapid fire. Plates are quickly filled and servers hustle them off to the counter or a formica table. If you watch this scene for a few minutes, it’s a wonder that anyone gets what they ordered.
Yet, everyone (or nearly everyone) gets what they ordered. And relatively quickly. The quality and presentation are remarkably consistent across more than 1500 locations.
How do they do it?
In order to ensure the consistency of the “Waffle House Experience”, the chain instituted the “Pull, Drop, Mark” system. Fundamentally, the system is a company-wide blueprint providing cooks with an efficient, low tech, and easily mastered set of visual clues for marking plates with the specifics of an order. For example, a packet of jelly in the six o’clock position on a plate indicates scrambled eggs. Jelly in the twelve o’clock position means a ham omelette. (next time you’re at a Waffle House, look for the laminated marking system placard behind the grill)
To facilitate rapid and accurate translation, servers place orders using a unique, but consistent language (“Mark: Triple scrambled dry wheat plate.”) and shout the orders from a specially colored tile on the floor to ensure they are heard.
New employees are trained on this detailed process with a manual (the blueprint), individual graphics (job aids), and training videos.
Like Waffle House customers, your clients expect a similar experience each time they place a service request with your team.
Do you have a blueprint to guarantee the consistency and accuracy of your service delivery?
(Fun factoids about Waffle House)