Use Six Sigma Methodology to Optimize Your Business

While it’s been a challenge to continue operating during COVID-19, adaptive ways of working have provided an opportunity to improve and optimize the current business models. Let’s look at how the restaurant industry was transformed: Restaurants were forced to adapt to curbside service and/or delivery or close their doors, and processes had to be implemented for contactless pick-up, delivery and payment.

How do you go about evaluating your processes to assess whether they need improvement? Six Sigma employs the DMAIC methodology – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control. I realized this is the method that is applied by celebrity chef Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible. Robert tries to turn around restaurants across America that are facing impending demise if things don’t improve. I realized that he implements the DMAIC methodology in his own unique way. How does he do it?

Robert first evaluates the current state. He looks at the dining room and the décor. He visits the kitchen and evaluates the supplies and level of cleanliness. He observes the restaurant staff during a normal a lunch or dinner service, with the wait staff following the existing processes and menu, and finally, he tastes the food. Basically, he DEFINES the process.

Next, Robert determines the effectiveness of the restaurant by gathering customer feedback on the service, overall appearance, and the food. He gets feedback from the owner(s) and employees. And lastly, he considers the opinion of his designer, carpenter, and his personal overall impression. This is the MEASURE phase.

Robert then talks to the owner(s) to find out their view of what’s going wrong. Many times, they don’t have the appropriate knowledge to be running a restaurant. The lack of knowledge results in excessive food costs and overhead. Often the Point of Sale (POS) system isn’t effective. Frequently, there are not documented processes for employees and kitchen staff, leading to complete disorganization. He’s ANALYZING all the data.

After analyzing the situation, Robert devises a plan to help the owner(s) implement new processes to allow the business to succeed. New dishes are created and added to the menu. Chefs are taught how to work effectively in the kitchen and cook high quality food. Sometimes, a new POS system is installed to provide reports that will help the owner better manage the inventory and identify the most successful dishes. The décor is given a complete overhaul to make it appealing to customers. Servers are given new or updated procedures so they can provide the best service to the customers and help get the food out quickly. Now, he’s IMPROVING the process.

Finally, the restaurant reopens with a new menu, newly trained servers and chefs, and owner(s) with a new perspective on how to run the business. They have been armed with the knowledge they need to maintain the success of all the changes, and new processes. They have entered the CONTROL phase.

Armed with knowledge of the DMAIC methodology, I now watch this show from a completely different perspective, and I’ve started to see the same methodology applied in home improvement shows. I’m not sure I’m ready for Robert Irvine to show up in my office and start optimizing processes with his unique style, but I am constantly impressed at his ability to quickly review a business and create a plan that results in success.

If your business has undergone significant change in this time of quarantine, or still needs to undergo change to manage through the new requirements, you can implement this methodology yourself or you can get some assistance from the process optimization experts at W. Capra. We’re here to help.

For further discussion, contact Shelli Moring at smoring@wcapra.com.