07 December 2022
Employee experience | Restaurants
07 December 2022
Employee experience | Restaurants
Bonchon was born in South Korea and has its US headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Bonchon is the Korean word for "My Hometown" and the restaurant brand's mission is to spread the joy of Korean comfort food around the world. Since landing stateside, the Korean Fried Chicken franchise chain has been experiencing stellar success, it is now operating 130 restaurants in the US, with a year-over-year sales increase of 12 percent, outperforming the industry average.
Brand growth is one of the most exciting aspects of business, but it comes with its own challenges. For Bonchon, it meant finding structure and infrastructure to handle its speed of scaling.
Bonchon has embraced technology to empower frontline workers and franchisees to stay efficient as the company grows. Like most companies, leadership has had to gain buy-in for the technology and continue to empower team members.
In a roundtable at FSTEC, a restaurant conference held in September in Dallas, Texas, two of Bonchon’s leaders, Carrie Goff (VP of HR & Training) and Ashley Wright Helkenn (Director of Training), sat down with YOOBIC to discuss the challenges with rapid expansion. They delved into how they got team buy-in, improved employee communication, and training, and standardized their processes.
You can watch the full discussion here but here’s the recap:
When CEO Flynn Decker joined the Bonchon team in 2018, the company was what Goff referred to as "the wild west." Even though they had a great brand and product, there needed to be more consistency and structure across the US side of the organization.
The panelists had the task of creating infrastructure and effective training resources. They had two significant challenges to successfully implementing new technology to help give them the efficiency they needed.
The first issue is that many franchisees were tech-adverse. Franchisees joined Bonchon without experience with learning technologies and had functioned without it up until this point. Ashley Helkenn explained, “They bought into a restaurant system and are not the type of people who are really familiar with email, apps, software, or ordering platforms.”
The second issue was that English was the fifth most needed language on the platform. The company was very diverse, so creating content in all the languages needed was challenging. Another factor adding to this challenge was that leadership couldn’t validate the multiple languages, so they needed to find a way around the language barrier.
These two issues made the thought of implementing a streamlined system challenging. “To combine those two together just makes it even more difficult,” said Ashley.
Bonchon separated the platform to be between the back of the house and everyone else. Ashley and Carrie gave their team a challenge for the content for the back of the house — use as little text as possible.
The result of this challenge was a YOOBIC Mission credits game with less than 10% words and everything else in videos or icons. Ashley explained, "We have eight equipment videos, and the only text in the entire video is the name of the video. Everything else is done through photos, videos, icons, arrows, and things like that."
Not only did creating minimal text make it easier for employees to navigate, but it helped improve team morale. “It builds trust with our operators, that we will meet them where they are, to meet their team where they are,” Ashley said.
"The more we can put into one platform, the more they get comfortable going into that platform, and the easier it is to access."
To improve buy-in for their tech-adverse franchisee base, simplicity and value are critical. Putting everything they need in one platform instead of across multiple tools made adoption easier.
“Tech fatigue is real, and tech fear is real. The more we can put into one platform, the more they get comfortable going into that platform, and the easier it is to access," Ashley stated.
The temptation for HR departments is to immediately add long, extensive training for team members to complete. Instead, Ashley and Carrie looked for ways to add value. “Identify what you need to start. For us, it was really important to show value. If there isn’t value at the onset, it would never get buy-in," said Ashley.
For example, one of the first use cases they started with was daily line checks. It was a real time-saver as practical information was put front and center, like how to clean a fryer, and delivered to team members at their moment of need.
Workers were willing to embrace YOOBIC immediately because it proved its value.
"They see value immediately when they log in,” said Ashley. “It encourages them to keep going back. For us, that's the easiest way to get them in versus what we want to do, which is put all the compliance on there that's not the value for them.
Leadership drastically improved buy-in and adoption by lightening team members' workload and starting with value for the workers instead of convenience for corporate.
With YOOBIC, leadership plans to break through team silos and create a streamlined, unified experience. Looking forward, the team is finding new ways to implement technology from the start of a franchisee relationship.
“We are planning on using YOOBIC across all of our marketing operations development,” said Carrie Goff. “So when a brand new franchisee comes on board, they will be given their YOOBIC login from day one. They'll start using that YOOBIC login for their checklist throughout the process of developing their individual restaurant."
By starting with the technology from day one, they'll get much more buy-in as franchisee owners immediately get value from it. Whether they need to figure out how to get a fryer repaired or receive vital corporate communication, team members can access it from one convenient platform.
Bonchon has a mission to share the joy of Korean comfort food worldwide. That includes their team, too. YOOBIC enables them to provide a consistent experience that creates future loyal customers.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure that our message internally for team members is the same message that marketing gives our external customers. Our vision for communication is to give team members the same feel from internal communications that they get from a Facebook newsfeed. It has the same buy-in and engagement because, at the end of the day, a lot of these people aren't going to be with us for a while. If we can invest in them as future guests and have that same experience, it's a better long-term investment," said Ashley Helkenn.
In addition to building loyal customers through their own team members, YOOBIC enables them to house content and facilitate communication. For training, Carrie stated that leadership goals were to make it easy for information to flow to every end user. "It's critical for us because things can get lost in translation. You may talk about a fix to franchisees, but then the franchisees don't talk to their managers, or managers don't talk to their employees. It's a huge improvement for us as a brand to have consistency," she said.
"We want to be a powerhouse. We want to change the world, and with YOOBIC as a partner, we're going to be able to get there a lot quicker than we would without a technology platform."
The improvement also works upward. Training, for example, was an issue. There was minimal communication with trainers. Leadership needed help to see whether there was an issue or get insights into how everything was progressing. Ashley and her team built a daily checklist through YOOBIC that encourages trainers to provide regular recaps. With the checklist, trainers no longer have to look at their agenda, saving them time on their end as well.
It was already having a positive impact on business. Carrie stated, "This morning, I opened my email and there was a recap of training that had just started at one of our locations." She had a snapshot of how training progressed in five minutes: "we can look at trends, patterns and figure out what's working and what's not."
These improvements allow Bonchon to start realizing and continuing its growth. As Carrie said, "We want to be a powerhouse. We want to change the world, and with YOOBIC as a partner, we're going to be able to get there a lot quicker than we would without a technology platform."
Impressed by how Bonchon is transforming its frontline employee experience?
To find out how your organization could empower frontline employees with real-time communication, impactful learning, and streamlined operations, talk to one of our experts!
Search the blog