The Systems Thinker Blog

A Cool Business System that Attracts Customers and Cuts Cost!

Posted byRon Carroll

Last week, my wife and I went to dinner at one of our favorite eating spots, Tucanos Brazilian Grill, a local chain of restaurants. They have a cool food-service system that is part of their brand, but also saves them thousands of dollars every year.

The restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat buffet of tasty salads and side dishes, while entrée servers walk around from table to table with skews of beef cuts, barbecued chicken wings, bacon-wrapped turkey, pork, sausage, shrimp, grilled pineapple or vegetables, and so forth. They cut off slices or push pieces down the skewer for customers to grab with tongs and put them on their meat plate.

The Tucanos Cue System

Once patrons are ready for servers to visit their table with these delicious morsels, they turn the wooden “Tucanos Cue” with the green side up (go). If they need to pause, or are full to bursting, they turn the Tucanos Cue over, with the red side up (stop). The servers immediately discontinue bringing selections to the table. Laying the cue on its side signals that customers are ready to pay their check.

Tucanos Cue - A Cool Business System

This distinctive method of serving the entrée makes Tucanos Brazilian Grill an unforgettable experience for customers. However, it is also a significant cost-saving strategy. Here’s how.

Fun and Profit Producing

A Tucanos Restaurant feeds an average of 1200 people per day with about fourteen entrée servers per shift. The servers visit the tables approximately fifteen times throughout the customer's thirty-minute eating frenzy. They spend roughly ten seconds per person each time they visit. Were it not for the Tucanos Cue in the red position, my observation is that they would spend at least an extra sixty seconds per person during the meal with needless visits and chatting.

The average savings of one minute per customer is equal to 1200 minutes per day or twenty person-hours. The entrée server is paid $2.50 per hour by the company (tips are added). This amounts to a savings of $50 per day or $15,600 per year (Tucanos is not open on Sundays). The Tucanos Cue System enables the restaurant to provide a quality service with one or two fewer entrée servers than might otherwise be required.

In your business, using minimum wage employees for a five-day workweek, similar time savings would add up to a whopping $37,700 per year. A nice bit of change resulting from a little creative thinking, don’t you think? With minimum wage going up, or higher-paid employees, the savings is even more impressive.

Where’s the Magic in Your Business Systems?

Remember, an effective business system is not just a flowchart or a checklist. The best systems include a mixture of left-brain and right-brain thinking that make your company a fun and motivating place to work and shop. The effort will translate into lower costs, repeat customers, and a thriving enterprise.

Become a Systems Thinker and you will discover the magic in your business!


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Tags: Systems Thinker, Business Systems, Customer Retention, Cost Cutting, System Example