Long-time Shakey’s customers would know that there’s some form of magic used in creating Pepperoni Crrrunch, mojos, and fried chicken. It’s nothing like the secret 100-year old formula of Coca-Cola, but you get the idea—ingredients put together in some covert kitchen in Sacramento sometime in 1954, which eventually traveled to Oregon, Manitoba, and then across the Pacific, to the beautiful city of Manila.
It’s a fact that the serial entrepreneur who started his venture in 1996 or even 2006 would have an entirely different set of problems in this day and age of Instagram and Snapchat. It’s not just about media, or tools and practices going obsolete—it’s more likely about the people, the customers, and the workforce.
When San Miguel Corporation brought the Shakey’s franchise to the Philippines during the 70s, it followed the same formula as its Sacramento roots which then evolved to a more family-oriented format. Since 2003, the Philippine operations have been growing greatly—a total of 13 years of steady, organic, and non-stop expansion. The biggest challenge, according to General Manager Jorge Concepcion, is really all about the workforce—the processes behind the hiring, retaining, and managing it to sustain the momentum.
People to fuel growth
“The keystone of our strategy is guest-centricity,” says Concepcion. “We expect our employees to treat our customers as they would a guest at home. That means being able to foresee and understand the needs of the guest. Engagement inside-out takes a level of skill, training, and culture. To deliver this, we continue to maintain an environment where employees are nurtured.”
This approach to ‘guest-centricity’ has made Shakey’s so successful it opened nine stores in 2014 and fifteen more in 2015. Currently halfway through 2016 and another fourteen stores have opened across the country!
Concepcion adds, “The chain is growing very rapidly and the challenge is to be able to staff the organization with people who can sustain that level of growth. It’s a problem of success—we cannot lower our standards because we are successful.”
Growing means adapting to change. This includes putting enabling systems to help Shakey’s leaders do what they can to better manage people. For Concepcion, responding well to the market entails having to constantly review and update policies and tools with the process of decentralizing, enabling branch managers to make informed decisions, and giving these people the technology to handle tasks easily—all with a platform that recognizes exceptional performance from their internal workforce.
Human resource and technology
In 2015, Shakey’s onboarded an aggressive enterprise solutions provider called Sprout Solutions, Inc. The disruptive nature of its technology revolves around cloud-based HR, payroll and recruitment and their suite automates everything from employee login, to payout, and government report generation.
“HR was one of the systems that we needed to update—fortunately, the Sprout system is dynamic and able to address compliance issues, issues faced by employees like payroll disputes. If you are becoming a big organization, this is one of the ways to decentralize and pass down the responsibility,” tells Concepcion.
“IT works closer than ever (now) to Human Resources. Timekeeping for some 500 stores with multiple employees and multiple shifts is tedious, susceptible to human error. So what we did is look to developments in technology and process improvements to be able to monitor and identify people early on so we can develop a program, so that we are able to tap into their potential,” comments Concepcion.
Moving forward, Shakey’s envisions the work of human resource managers as more strategic than administrative—more towards driving engagement, communications, and ensuring that the ‘guest-centricity’ culture is cascaded to all employees, new or seasoned.
Good times, great memories
Regardless of the era—whether it was the time of Friendster, Multiply, Instagram, or Snapchat—the brand equity of Shakey’s still remains: ‘Good times’ and great memories.’ Technologies come and go, some companies use it to their advantage, some don’t.
But in the case of Shakey’s, there is one very basic truth that remains: treating customers and employees well can only make a business better, and if adapting to the advancement of technology will help them attain that, they’re the first in line.