Staying in the Green

Innovative dashboard feature helps managers at Lackmann Culinary Services' accounts.

FoodService Director, Lackmann Culinary Services, Pace University, Management DashboardNEW YORK—Using a new management system Heath Braunstein, general manager of dining services for Lackmann Culinary Services at 12,900-student Pace University can quickly see where his operation stands financially. The new system features an innovative “dashboard” that helps directors pinpoint problem areas.

“Our systems are all Web-based so they allow a user to have access from any computer, so I can look at stuff at home,” Braunstein said. “Our main operating report is called Key Performance Indicators (KPI). It allows our managers to review detailed information on revenues, food costs, labor and other operating expenses and margins. The new dashboard is unique because it provides quick and easy access to key indicators. It’s just like the dashboard of a car—a visual representation of key operating metrics.”

Once an operator selects the location and the week ending date, the dashboard will display various gauges for data such as customer counts, check averages, food cost percentages and DPI, which is a productivity measure that represents the number of customers served per work hour. The higher the number, the more customers served and, therefore, the more productive that location is, Braunstein said. Each gauge of the dashboard displays the operation’s actual performance versus projected performance and last year’s performance for the selected period.

“What happens is you’re looking at three arrows on each gauge,” Braunstein said. “One arrow is your actual performance, one is your budgeted performance and then one is last year’s performance. The coloring depends on your performance compared to budget, so if you’re ahead of budget or at budget, the gauge is highlighted in green. If you’re below budget, then the gauge is red. Yellow is for caution. So at a glance you can see how you’re doing—the more greens you have, you know you’re doing great.”

Braunstein said, as a general manager, the new system helps him to be more efficient.

“As managers, we are pressed for time,” Braunstein said. “It’s great to be able to access the KPI for a number of operations. Since I’m a general manager, I’m in charge of four different locations with multiple sub departments, so I can access all locations in detail. Sometimes at the end of the week, I want to see how we’re doing and if I see red, I can go into more detail to see what the problem is.”
And although Braunstein said all managers are trained to review financial data carefully, he admitted this program makes it easier for managers who aren’t as financially savvy.

“We work with managers of all different ability levels,” Braunstein said. “Some mangers may have difficulty with a detailed financial report, but this quick visual representation helps them. Also, we have some clients that have access to our systems who usually only want to see a few indicators. We gave them the dashboard so they can see very quickly how we’re doing. The dashboard doesn’t necessarily help me catch something I might have missed before, but it helps me catch problems faster.”

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
spilled coffee beans glasses

Following an initial test at the end of May, Starbucks announced that more than 500 of its stores will be pouring nitro coffee by the end of summer. Capitalizing on the cold-brew coffee trend—which reached $7.9 million in sales in 2015 on 115% growth from the previous year, according to researcher Mintel—select U.S. cafes will give up the counter space to serve the creamy, nitrogen-infused java made from the cold-brew base. But how did nitro become the hottest new thing in coffee?

Bringing the bar to coffeehouses

It was the chrome double tap, similar to a bar’s beer tap, and the...

Ideas and Innovation
star wars storm trooper

My favorite event—because I’m kind of dorky—is our “May the fourth be with you” (aka “Star Wars”) day on May 4. The whole dining team dresses up, and we offer things like Chewbaklava, Boba Fettuccine and BB-8 Buckeyes. We had a guest cry because they got to take a picture with Chewy.

Menu Development
recipe revamp chicken soup

As a continuous care retirement community, The Garlands of Barrington in Illinois provides daily foodservice to 270 independent living and skilled nursing care residents, with the majority of sodium restrictions coming from the latter, says Executive Chef Nicola Torres. Instead of cooking two versions of chicken noodle soup—a favorite offered at least twice a week—he reworked his recipe into a flavorful lower-sodium version that appeals to all. “Everybody eats soup, so I created a homemade stock that uses no salt at all, ramping up the flavor with fresh herbs and plenty of vegetables,...

Ideas and Innovation
tray number

We created lucky tray days to help create an experience surrounding our brand. The trays are numbered; we pick a number and the winner receives a free lunch. We’ve enlisted the help of one of our coaches, who calls out the random lucky winner, and it drums up a lot of excitement.

FSD Resources