It might look like something from The Matrix, but really, you’re just inside the doorway of the Pig & the Sprout in downtown Denver. A sleek kiosk near the host stand checks guests’ wrists (contactlessly, of course) for body temperature and scans their faces for masks. If a fever is detected or a mask is missing, restaurant owner Andy Ganick’s phone immediately buzzes with an alert.
Welcome to the new face of restaurants. The Pig & the Sprout’s kiosk was installed in response to the pandemic, yes, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Hardwired into the restaurant is an extensive monitoring system (officially called a Hoptix720) that could forever change the industry.
Ganick’s embrace of the technology predates COVID. In 2008, when he began speaking with Ken Bianchi, CEO of Hoptix720, Ganick’s goal was twofold: to not only better understand the inner workings of his restaurant, but to also systematically improve hospitality.
As an engineer, Bianchi saw the industry’s ongoing conundrum of trying to motivate and hold staff accountable for enhancing the guest experience as something he could address with tech. “Restaurants are running their companies without a GPS,” he says. “They don’t know how to get there and they’re losing large amounts of money along the way.”
Recognizing the need for objective data, Bianchi created Hoptix720, a camera-based system that tracks staff and key metrics. Measurables include the time it takes for a host to greet a guest; the time between ordering a drink and the beverage actually hitting the table; and the time it takes a bartender to acknowledge a customer at the bar. The system can also monitor mask and glove compliance.
Ganick implemented the system in his restaurant in February of 2019. “I’ve never seen any other system that does a good job of tracking how we’re really doing until [this],” he says. Now that key service elements are monitored objectively, Ganick can address staff performance consistently and fairly. Hoptix footage allows managers to keep staff accountable by providing a visual and data-based record of their performance. “When it’s in front of them, it’s hard to deny,” Ganick says.
What could feel contentious is instead positioned as a teaching tool. Ganick says that rather than objecting to the system, staff was curious about how it would work. He also emphasizes the conversation around Hoptix has always been framed as positive. “This isn’t Big Brother,” Ganik says. “This is just a tool that we want to use to get better at our jobs so [servers] can get more money and we can get better sales.”
Hoptix allows managers to send “cheers” when staff hits a key metric. Here, however, Ganick pulls back, recognizing the undeniable benefit of human connection. An elbow bump or a thumbs up is one part of the equation that remains old-school.
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