Game On

Writen by T.J. Schier

Over the past few years, many quick serve chains have not only recognized the importance of guest and employee retention but have also created some unique games to add some fun to the workplace. While many managers can make a place fun to work, action drives happiness—not the other way around. If you look at the games created by many companies, you'll see they focus on driving business success in a fun fashion.

The Sonic Games have been around for quite a while. Success is realized by the manager passing knowledge quizzes, as well as the ability of the team to deliver a high level of speed and service. Prizes are earned as they progress through the games. The top 12 teams receive a trip to face off in a simulated rush. If you've ever dined at a Sonic drive-in and noticed the restaurant proudly displaying their "semifinalist" banner, you'll understand the business results obtained by, and consequently paid for by, the games.

Other chains such as Taco Bueno and Whataburger have introduced games to drive business results and used competition as a motivator to enhance the performance of their restaurants' teams. While other restaurants have lax standards, or softball games to drive camaraderie, the restaurant's performance doesn't change. Why? Because happiness doesn't change performance. Don't agree? Think of how many times you've walked into a restaurant and seen employees chatting, leaning, or giggling with their friends. They are very happy because they're getting paid for being allowed to do little work and talk with others. Again, happiness doesn't drive performance! When was the last time you saw a happy player on a last-place team?

Most employees want to win, so use that drive to your advantage. How?

• Create games for each position—highest check average, quickest time to make a burger, sandwich, taco or pizza.
• Post world records—let the team know how the other employees are doing in the areas of check average, suggestive selling, prep times, number of orders per hour, number of orders without a mistake and so on. Watch people start giving 110 percent to beat the record.
• Reward progress as well as champions—if people improve their performance, reward them. In football, you get a new set of downs if you get 10 yards. Apply the same mentality with your employees as they hit intermediate milestones so they'll continue moving forward.

Designing games and contests to improve your team's performance benefits the guests and your employees—so let the games begin!

T.J. Schier is service professional, consultant and speaker with over 20 years experience in operations and training. Founder and president of Incentivize Solutions and podTraining, T.J. has helped numerous clients enhance their service and training programs and spoken to tens of thousands of managers, franchisees and operators in various fields. Visit for more info motivating today's employees, training today's generation and delivering outstanding guest service; or, a unique new system and the foundation of 'i-learning' - using the device of today's generation, the iPod - to train your workforce.


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