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Archive | August, 2012

Energy Management Systems, Restaurants, and ROI – Part 3

Energy Management Systems, Restaurants, and ROI – Part 3By Jay Fiske, VP of Business Development & Jason Roeder, Director of Energy Products & Services, Powerhouse Dynamics

Last week, we continued our discussion on the critical questions that need to be addressed in order for a business to extract the maximum value from their investment in an energy management system:

•    Who should be involved in the use of these systems?
•    Where are the opportunities for saving money?
•    When should the customer expect to reap savings?

In last week’s post, we focused on the second question.  In this third and final post, we will focus on the last question:

When should the customer expect to achieve savings?

A system to help manage energy costs is just like any other business tool or system in that it requires: some effort to set up, some effort to get people trained and using it, and a time period over which the system moves from “new and different” to “how we do things.”  In this way the benefits from the system build over time rather than arriving all at once.

To be successful, the improvement of business processes that an energy management system can drive should be laid out in advance and approached at a reasonable pace. None of this is to say that implementing a modern energy management system is difficult – it is not.  But expecting your next month’s utility bill to magically go down by 20% is a recipe for disappointment. Like any “project”, some project management is required to maximize the benefits available.  Here is a sample deployment schedule, or project plan, for a modern energy management system.

Energy Management Systems, Restaurants, and ROI – Part 3

Months 1-2: Training + Baseline data

During the first two months after an installation, an energy management system will gather baseline data on the magnitude of energy consumption and energy consumption patterns for each circuit in a restaurant.  This data characterizes “as-is” operations and equipment performance and will be the basis for identifying operational and equipment performance improvement opportunities.

In addition, all parties involved in the use of the energy management platform should be trained and become familiar with the use of the system during this period.

Months 2-6: Tune Daily Operations

By viewing energy consumption patterns, management can identify the “low-hanging fruit” opportunities for recapturing lost profits from relatively easy operational changes.  The low-hanging fruit opportunities include analyzing off-hours energy consumption and taking corrective action to ensure equipment is running only when it needs to be.

Initial opportunities for savings also include updating thermostat programming for more effective use of HVAC systems.

For those companies managing a portfolio of restaurants, the baseline data will enable benchmarking of their facilities.  Which restaurants have the best practices in terms of energy use?  Where are the worst practices?  Which functional areas (e.g., HVAC, refrigeration, lighting, etc.) are driving the biggest problems?  Through benchmarking, management will be able to prioritize which restaurants represent the largest opportunities for savings and can focus their efforts accordingly.

In order to sustain the operational improvements established during the first phases of an energy management system implementation, restaurant management can implement energy cost controls.  These controls can include establishing or updating opening and closing procedures for each store, establishing or reinforcing temperature set point on thermostats, and training staff in any changes.

In addition, the energy management system can be configured for email or text alerts that can be sent out to reinforce proper hours of operation of critical equipment.

Months 4-6: Identify Underperforming Equipment

In parallel with implementing new or enhanced energy cost controls and operational improvements, management will be able to identify problematic equipment during this period.  An energy management system can tag equipment exhibiting problematic energy consumption patterns (e.g., a roof-top unit short cycling, or a refrigeration compressor running continuously) and alert the facilities/maintenance team accordingly.

With this information, the facilities/maintenance team can revise equipment maintenance schedules and establish equipment alerts to highlight under-performing assets.

Month 7: Project Review

During the seventh month of deployment, it is very useful to schedule a review of the energy management system implementation to ensure all appropriate management feedback loops are in place, celebrate successes, and to reinforce areas that need improvement.
 
Months 9-12: Assess Equipment Upgrades

Some energy management systems can measure the exact cost of running a piece of equipment.  Based on the data collected during the first six months of implementation, is there a case for upgrading equipment to more energy efficient models?  What is the real-world performance of the EnergySTAR refrigeration equipment, HVAC equipment, and lighting in which you’ve already invested?  Just how costly is that “old dog” equipment that you know needs to be replaced sooner or later?  Which equipment should we use in our soon-to-be constructed new restaurant?

By providing actual run-time costs, an energy management system can give management the data it needs to tackle these questions.  Rather than projecting the ROI for replacing a piece of equipment using estimates of its energy consumption, one can now use the facts for how much energy the equipment uses now, which reduces the risk of not achieving your ROI.

Months 7 – Onward: Ongoing Daily Operations & Equipment Performance Management

Studies have shown that in the absence of active energy management, buildings can lose up to 80% of energy efficiency gains achieved via audits or retro-commissioning within the first two years after efficiency measures have been implemented.  This so-called “energy drift” can be prevented by incorporating an energy management system into ongoing operational practices in restaurants.  In the same way restaurants have systems for tracking inventory and labor costs, it is now possible to track and improve energy cost performance.

In addition to making sure all the operational and equipment improvements implemented during the first 6 months are continuing to be effective, restaurant management teams should consider implementing longer lead-time changes in broader operating policies that can save energy.  Examples of this type of business optimization include water vs. chemical sanitation, the sequence of food preparation that determines how much food warming is required, or the re-balancing of HVAC systems.

Also, it is critical to verify savings from new maintenance and / or capital equipment upgrades.  Has new equipment performed according to spec?  Are the equipment upgrades delivering their anticipated savings?  Are the service providers delivering improved maintenance and therefore equipment performance?

Finally, an energy management system can deliver on-going analysis that can help prevent catastrophic failure of critical equipment through early detection of abnormal energy consumption patterns, which can often indicate problems with equipment.

Conclusion

Before implementing an energy management system, it’s important that you have a plan which clearly articulates who should be involved in the use of the system, how the tool will be used to save money, and when you should expect to reap benefits from the use of the system.

With a modest amount of planning, an energy management platform can be a powerful tool for boosting profits in restaurants by cutting energy consumption and improving the performance of critical equipment.  By bringing visibility to what has historically been an invisible cost for restaurants, it is finally possible to move energy from an “uncontrollable” cost to a “controllable” cost.

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4 Ways to Improve Restaurant Training

4 Ways to Improve Restaurant Training    There are some fantastic training programs and trainers working in the industry. At most restaurants though, training is squeezed in with other daily activities because of the urgent demands of operating a restaurant.  This is the nature of the industry.  Because of this, there is room to improve restaurant training.

Well into my tenure as a waiter, I realized that most of what I know about waiting tables I did not learn during formal training.  Because of this, I started writing down ideas about improving restaurant training, particularly for front of the house service.

Invest Resources in Training   

You must exhaust resources to improve training: time and energy.  Should one of your restaurants goals be to improve training, consider increasing that time by a reasonable amount.  If training is 2% of your activity, consider making it 3-4%.

Focus on the Trainee    

The focus on restaurant training is about the material and tasks that need to be learned. And for good reason.  Chances are, training will not be successful if the trainee determines what is and is not important.  However, failure to properly engage the trainee or tailor the program to their needs could render training ineffective.  Good trainers are skilled in adapting the training to meet the trainee’s needs and being able to assess progress during the training process.  If your program’s and/or trainer’s approach is always the same with everyone, you may not be getting the most out of training.

Two things need to be assessed before training begins.  First, you must assess the trainee’s experience level.  This helps determine the pace of training and expectations of the trainee.     Someone with no experience needs to be handled differently than someone with over three years experience.

If possible, find out how the trainee learns best.  Most of restaurant training is hands on, and in order for the trainee to be successful, they will need to actively participate.  However, when dealing with menus, wine lists and POS systems, a trainee’s ability to learn along with their learning style becomes very important.  A good training program will allow visual, auditory and hands-on learners equal opportunity to grasp the material.

Be Selective in Choosing Trainers    

Selecting restaurant trainers is a tricky task.  A trainer is an ambassador within the organization. There is pressure and responsibility in choosing them.

The most important criteria for being a trainer are simple.  First and foremost, a trainer must set a good example.  This is not the only qualification, but it is the most important one. There are top performers and effective employees who do not represent a picture perfect example of the textbook way to do things. They may not be the best selection for a training role.  By contrast, you may have someone who may not rank at the top of the list for sales or work in the best sections, but is a picture perfect example of how to do the job.  That candidate could be the better choice.   For trainers, execution is important, but so are ideals.

Also remember, a trainer is a mentor.  Once you have identified a candidate’s ability to represent your organization then consider their ability to teach and mentor.  These skills are vital.  The pedigree of a top performer and a mentor do not always intersect.  Are your trainers actually willing to teach?   If they are not, do not select them.

Also remember, training may end, but the learning process continues.  During their early tenure, a new employee will continue to ask questions.  And they will ask people whom they feel comfortable asking.  There is a good chance they will approach the trainers first.  They will also look for help from the official or unofficial leaders in your restaurant. Ideally, your trainers set a good example, teach and mentor, and have the respect of the entire team.  Should you select approachable people who are perceived leaders within your ranks, you increase the chances of success with your training and development efforts.

Add Continuous Training and Coaching  

Most of what I learned about waiting tables took place after training was over.  Even with great training, this will likely be the same for most trainees. Development must be treated as part of the training process.

First and foremost, wisely use pre-shift meetings. These are great opportunities to communicate knowledge and best practices and further develop your employees.  Another function of pre-shift meetings is for briefings and when needed lecturing.  Only managers and owners can decide the content and structure of a pre-shift meeting.  Nonetheless, the opportunity to train and develop is there.

Another way to ensure employees develop is to evaluate them.  While I see a fair amount of in the moment coaching, I see very little in the way of formal evaluations.  Again, I understand the many demands in operating a restaurant.  However, simple evaluations can go a long way in reinforcing policies and best practices and improving performance.   Consider what’s important to you and your team and give your staff feedback on those criteria.

A third way to improve development is to have periodic meetings and training sessions.   Typically these are held before or after hours and are longer than pre-shift meetings.  These present great opportunities to train.  However, scheduling and attendance can be issues.  Also, everyone can relate to attending meetings that seem like a waste of time.  Regular pre-shift meetings have potential to be more effective.

Erik Bullman is a Writer and a Waiter.  He has more than 6 years experience in Hospitality and Sales.  His blog is Writer, Salesman, Waiter.

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Press Release: “Dreamstaurant Contest” Grand Prize $20,000 in Restaurant Design & Products

News Release
For Immediate Release

“Dreamstaurant Contest” Grand Prize $20,000 in restaurant design and products, plus $500 shopping sprees for home chefs

Tundra Restaurant Supply launches nationwide contest Oct. 1

BOULDER, Colo. (August 1, 2012) — Tundra Restaurant Supply’s mission is to achieve success through the success of our customers, and that is why Tundra has decided to help one lucky food service entrepreneur realize their dream of owning and operating their very own restaurant.

Tundra is launching the “What’s Your Dreamstaurant?” contest nationwide Oct 1 for food service entrepreneurs, aspiring restaurateurs, and serious home chefs alike. The Grand Prize is a $20,000 restaurant design and product package that will help one lucky restaurateur realize their dream restaurant concept.

However, anyone can enter the Dreamstaurant Contest and win! Two second place prizes will be awarded to home chefs with the best concept for their dream home kitchen. Each will receive a $500 Tundra shopping spree.

Contestants may enter the contest by submitting their email address here: www.etundra.com/dreamstaurant. All entrants will then fill out a short survey to help them define their dream restaurant concept. From that survey Tundra will sort contestants based upon who they are – an aspiring restaurateur, a food service entrepreneur looking to remodel, or a home chef with a dream kitchen in mind.

Those that qualify for the Grand Prize will receive a follow up survey and then Tundra will select the Grand Prize winner with the help of our professional chef panel. All other contestants will be eligible for the two second place prizes.

Celebrity chef Kelly Liken, a finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef, will sit on Dreamstaurant’s panel of judges, and help Tundra select the winner. Chef Kelly, owner and operator of Restaurant Kelly Liken, worked with Tundra’s restaurant designer Jeff Katz on the design of her dream restaurant in Vail, CO.

“A fully-equipped kitchen is a dream come true whether you’re a home cook or a professional chef. Tundra VP of Design Jeff Katz was integral in the design of Restaurant Kelly Liken, and we use their products. I can say from firsthand experience, using Tundra would help set up any new restaurant up for success,”

Contest entries will be accepted at www.etundra.com/dreamstaurant from October 1 – December 31, 2012. Winners will be announced January 21, 2013. Tundra will post updates of the Grand Prize winner’s progress in creating their Dreamstaurant on www.etundra.com.

Tundra’s recent acquisition of Katz Company, a Denver based design firm, has greatly expanded Tundra Restaurant Supply’s suite of services, allowing them to offer restaurant and kitchen design and consulting services, as well as complete equipment and supplies packages. VP of Design Jeff Katz has worked on Colorado restaurants such as The Kitchen Cafe, Restaurant Kelly Liken, and Matsuhisa.

“We’re very excited about the Dreamstaurant Contest,” says Katz. “It will give us the chance to hear about our customer’s dreams and goals, and even help make one of those dreams a reality. Plus, the contest is great for aspiring restaurant owners, existing owners who want to remodel, and home cooks who dream about
upgrading their kitchens.”

High-resolution photographs, art and logos available on request.

For more information about Tundra Restaurant Supply, visit http://www.etundra.com . For more information about Tundra’s Dreamstaurant contest, visit www.etundra.com/dreamstaurant.

Download PDF version of press release.

Tundra Restaurant Supply is an international distributor of top quality food service products, from equipment to parts to supplies. Tundra was founded by industry veteran Michael Lewis in Boulder, Colo. in 1993. Since then, Tundra has grown from a small specialty parts company, to an international distributor, with a comprehensive catalog of over 50,000 food service products, and a complete suite of services. Tundra is now led by Michael’s son Ryan Lewis. For more information, visit www.etundra.com. For access to photos, or to arrange interviews with Michael or Ryan Lewis or VP of
Design Jeff Katz, contact Molly Patterson via email.

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