Inspired by the late-night Windsor kebab stand and his favorite family recipes, Brandon Bahoura created Pita Way in 2010 to bring healthy, fast Mediterranean food to the masses in Michigan. They quickly became known for their high-quality food, great service, and comfortable atmosphere. 11 years later, they still bring their signature quesopitas (a pita-quesadilla hybrid) and Mediterranean bowls to hungry guests—just at a much larger scale. With ten locations (and two more on the way) and more than 100 employees, Pita Way combines the 7shifts team management platform and Toast POS to create a tech stack that enables them to replicate their brand of fast, healthy food and stellar service across all of their restaurants and grow without comprising who they are.
We spoke to Holly Megges, Pita Way's Director of Operations, to learn how Pita Way uses 7shifts to help them keep growing efficiently.
Scheduling 100 employees across 10 locations 📅
Before becoming Director of Operations, Holly Megges was running one of Pita Way's locations. To make the schedule there, she would “make it up on my iPad with my Apple pencil and kind of fill it out that way every day,” says Megges. But it was a promotion to Director of Operations that created problems that 7shifts was there to help solve.
I began to have to ask myself, “Are [store managers] scheduling effectively? Are [store managers] even concerned about what their labor is? And it really became a way to watch everybody and see what they were doing and if they needed help,” says Megges. When the arrival of the pandemic in March of 2020 forced Pita Way to temporarily close a few locations and move their staff around. “I think, especially during the pandemic, it came in handy, with staffing issues. How would I know who's working when and who's staffed and who could work if I didn't have 7shifts? I wouldn't even know where to start. I have a hundred employees. I can't just call every general manager and be like, Hey, you got anybody for me?”
The team also takes advantage of the shift swaps feature in 7shifts, swapping about a shift every day. They also can easily request time off in the app, which the team uses around a thousand times a year.
The results of using 7shifts for team management have been significant. On average, each location has reduced labor cost percentage from an average of 32% in Jan 2020 to 23% in April 2021—a nine percent improvement. Every location in the chain has improved its labor % since its first month with 7shifts.
36,000 tasks: Done ✅
Pita Way's task management process used to look like most quick-service restaurants: paper checklists on clipboards. Printed off every week. “We were using paper before and it wasn't working well,” says Megges. As part of the 7shifts platform, Pita Way has access to the Task Management feature. Megges uses task templates and recurring tasks to create daily, weekly, and monthly task lists for each store. On average, their lists have about 19 tasks each, with each location completing about 23 tasks a day. Since November 2019, Pita Way has checked off 36,000 tasks—no small feat—and the sign of a smoothly-run business. 7tasks helps ensure proper process is followed, and that's reflected in a great guest experience.
Pita Ways owes a lot of its success in task completion to the way task management software tracks the completion of tasks. Using 7tasks has gamified the day-to-day to-dos among each of Pita Way's 10 locations. Each location's task completion percentage can be seen by the others, creating a dose of healthy competition between stores.
“I'm seeing how much you're completing every week and everybody else is too. If you're 20% and everybody else is 60%, 70%, 80%, a hundred, then 20% doesn't look good,” says Megges.
What's really shifted has been the level of accountability among Pita Way's 108 employees, across all the stores. “It's just actually having people accountable and actually remembering to do things on a daily basis. Because if you don't remember that day, you can't go back and check your list off,” says Megges. Pita Way began to reward the store with the highest level of task completion each month. Most recently, their Clarkson, MI location came out on top with 95% completion, and all of its crew received a bonus. Clarkson is one of the first locations, at around ten years old. They're also the second-busiest of Pita Way's 10 locations. “So if they can do it, anybody else can do it,” says Megges. Turns out, you can teach an old dog some new tricks.
Recommended Reading: 7 Restaurant Management Tools for Maximum Productivity
Communication for growth 🔑
It's not easy to get in touch with 108 people at once, let alone get them all on the same page. Pita Way uses the 7shifts team communication tools to send announcements out to their entire organization. This happens twice a week on average at Pita Way, and the content of the missives varies. Read receipts allow management to see who has - and has not - seen the announcements across the business.
“Sometimes we do a tip of the day, we come across something that works out well at one store and we'll put a tip of the day out there, just to make everybody's life a little easier,” says Megges.
For example, if a dish on the menu is being portioned inconsistently across locations, the team can send out an announcement blast with a photo to all staff to make sure the Pita Way experience is exactly the same from Clarkston to Brighton.
Pita Way also runs on an open-book management style where every employee can get insights into their specific store numbers and performance. “Every week, everybody knows what every store did, what their numbers were, what their labor was, what their mistakes were, what their reviews are. Everybody knows everything,” says Megges.
One particular example of this transparent management philosophy at Pita Way is how stores share their number of signups for Pita Way's loyalty system called Fivestar. Megges shares the percentage of guests that signed up for the system per store every week to stoke competition among the team to get more signups.
“I put those numbers out there and sometimes it'll be almost like a competition. I saw one store go from 50% one week to six weeks later, they're at 80%, 90%. It really works.”
An essential tool for restaurant success 🚀
Overall, 7shifts has helped to bring a new level of accountability to Pita Way's stores.
“7tasks has brought accountability in the organization to our whole company. It's changed the way we do our day-to-day and changed the cleanliness and organization of our stores.”
That enhanced cleanliness and organization benefits both the staff and the customers, creating a safer and healthier work environment and dining experience across the board. Pita Way's strong mission and leadership team are at the heart of its success. And like all modern restaurants, an embrace of technology certainly helps.
“7shifts changed everything we do. We can oversee all of our stores, see what's going on in every store, help us cover shifts that we never would've been able to cover otherwise. And the communication and getting us all on the same page is incredible. There was no way to communicate with our whole team before this.”
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