Nic andNorman’s in Senoia, Georgia, is a very unique restaurant providing a very unique experience. Owned in part by four of the crew behind the smash-hit TV series ‘The Walking Dead’, the namesake is a result of combining Greg Nicotero’s (show director, producer, and makeup artist) and Norman Reedus’ (actor who plays Daryl Dixon). The doors officially opened for business in June and there have been daily lineups ever since. None of the owners had previous restaurant experience, so the group’s first order of business was to find someone capable of heading up operations…
Enter: Ronny Clark, General Manager of Nic and Norman’s.
Ronny has been in the industry for 16 years, with experience in both chain and independent restaurants, earning a reputation as a “fixer”. He was often hired to come in, clean house, and turn struggling restaurants around. He knows what it takes to manage a successful restaurant and made a name for himself in Senoia. It didn’t take long for the high-profile owners to convince Ronny to work for them. They told him, “We don’t know about restaurants, you know about restaurants. We want you.”
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After joining Nic and Norman’s, one of Ronny’s projects was how to enable repeat business and position the business as less of a local novelty. While the restaurant isn’t Walking Dead-themed, the show is filmed in Senoia and hosts over 100,000 fans every year. “For us to fill the restaurant was going to be the easy part, so our goal was to make sure the food that we served and the service we provided was so amazing that no one would want to go somewhere else next time”, says Ronny.
Nic and Norman’s Journey to Operational Greatness
Nic and Norman’s has only been open for over 3 months, but the initial response has been overwhelmingly positive. In less than 2 months they had over 300 five star reviews on the Nic and Norman’s Facebook page and are now up over 350 with nearly 15,000 likes. Guests are coming from far and wide.
Being that Ronny is in charge of all operational aspects, he had big decisions to make prior to opening day. He personally interviewed and hired all staff, chose the POS and inventory systems, and did his own research to determine which scheduling software was best.
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He has enough experience to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to scheduling software. He has scheduled employees every way possible in previous jobs including using Excel, proprietary desktop software, and is also familiar with Hotschedules. Ronny recalls, “When I started researching, I obviously looked at Hotschedules because I was familiar with them from a previous job, but then I heard about 7shifts and it combined everything I was looking for.”
He heard about 7shifts through CAKE, the POS system he decided to use. CAKE is an integrated partner of 7shifts and Ronny has already seen the benefits. He says “the coolest thing for us is that the integration takes my sales from CAKE and plugs them into 7shifts” which allows for easy budgeting of labor and planning within the schedule.
“I love the fact that it has the built in Manager Log Book which I can configure however I want to. Being able to have the control where I get to choose the categories is great. My handwriting is so ridiculously horrible that I can’t read my own writing. I never have to worry about it with this. Type it in my phone and bam! It’s done.”
Ronny finds 7shifts user-friendly and the staff adopted it instantly. “It was really easy for me to train one of my managers. It took me 8 minutes.” he says. “7shifts works well for us because we can do things on the go and not have to be in an office. We have no chair and a standing desk in the office. We planned it to be the most uncomfortable place you’ll ever be. I want all Management on the floor interacting with guests,” says Ronny.
“One of the features that I absolutely love about 7shifts is the Wall that they’re able to write notes on. It’s such a neat thing because my employees treat it as a social media website. They write really cool notes to each other. In addition to work-related messages, for trading shifts and whatnot, they will send each other notes of encouragement and it’s really cool to see that.” The 7shifts Messaging feature also allows for easy uploads of documents and employees can reply to each other.
One of the ways Nic and Norman’s shows respect to employees is by posting their schedule at least 5 days in advance. If changes are required, Ronny has conversations with all individuals involved to ensure satisfaction. “Our focus here is service with 3 table sections. They have an easier time because they’re only taking care of 3 tables. They can provide exceptional service, not working as hard, making more money.”
“To be able to view how many hours are scheduled and what it’s costing us is really helpful.”
What’s next for for Nic and Norman’s? Now that they have established a groove and daily sales numbers are averaging out, they are introducing new lunch and dinner features. “We have a really great group of cooks and chefs. This gives them an opportunity to flex their creative muscles”, states Ronny. The new Walking Dead season starts in October and will be shown at the restaurant, reservations only. It’s expected to be a hit and continue the lineups. Their slowest Saturday to date had a 3.5 hour wait!
The scheduling advice Ronny offers to peers in the industry is “Make sure you’re staffing appropriately and staffing ahead of time so you don’t have to make a stupid hire just to fill a number. You hire the right people, and you hire the right number of people. You treat them with dignity and respect when it comes to the scheduling. They have lives outside of work, this isn’t the only thing they do. To treat them with that kind of respect is as simple as planning ahead.”