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How to Insure Customers are Receiving Hot, Delicious French Fries

Q:

Because of the cost of running a business and making a profit I just terminated a program I had for a mystery shopper to visit my restaurants and give me advise on how to improve the guest/customer experience.  One of the things I am concerned about is how to keep my food standards high without using this service as a check and balance.  The potato question has to do with how fast a customer gets their order of fries and whether or not they are delivered hot.  Any suggestions?

A:

Two words… friends and family. In a lot of instances, if you reimburse them for a food purchase then this can periodically be a way to measure the results. The only drawback is that your employees may recognize this person if they are already known to the staff. That’s where asking friends and family for an extended contact can pay off. You probably already have the check list from previous shopper reports, now is the time to update or customize it to your operation.

And a couple of other comments… I once owned a fresh pasta restaurant and had customer complaints about food being cold or served luke warm.  In analyzing the problem I did have to purchase some used plate warmers and domed metal lids, the ones like you find in hospital lines. They were actually a cheap long term solution. The employees had helped me identify why the plates were not coming out hot, warm pasta served on a cold plate doesn’t get warmer in the delay to get to the customer. So, follow up on the comments you get from the new “mystery shopper” to see if the system does not need revamping too. Fries will cool off quickly, even under heat lamps.

Also, is the staff fixing too much ahead in anticipation of a busy lunch? A good employee, who knows the business well, can actually save a customer wait time by fixing in anticipation, but a copy cat employee that was taught the same way may not have the same skills (or does not like it when the cashier asks… where is my order). Re-training may be in order.