The Rutland Partners-backed family restaurant chain will be revamping over 80 of its sites with a new, ‘interactive’ design and a more Americanised food offering. But Mike Spencer, who has worked at Pizza Hut since 2005, says ‘there’s no point spending any money on refurbishing if customers are having a bad experience’.
“We’ve had a change in the way we recruit, a change in the way we train and a change in the way we develop and retain our staff,” Spencer told BigHospitality. “With our recruitment process, we’ve looked for personality and character rather than how much they can work.
“We’ve also introduced ‘Running Great Shifts’ – a training programme which takes our managers to four Centres of Excellence for three days of training. They don’t do any classroom work; they just get coached on how to bring a shift to life.”
But perhaps the biggest innovation in Pizza Hut’s staff development and retention programme has been the launch of HutSpace – an ‘enterprise social network’; the group’s answer to Facebook.
Set up 18 months ago, HutSpace ‘breaks down barriers of hierarchy’ in the business, allowing every Pizza Hut employee to access the network remotely or via their mobile to communicate with others, check their work schedules and receive company-wide updates.
Almost 10,000 of Pizza Hut’s 11,000-plus workers now use HutSpace, and the business benefits are becoming clear: staff turnover has dropped to below 50 per cent, compared to an average of 65-70 per cent across the casual dining sector. And customer complaints have reduced by 60 per cent over the past year alone.
“HutSpace has really taken off over the past year or so,” added Spencer. “We haven’t really had to push it, we’ve just had real pull from the team members to get involved. When it comes to staff retention, a good employer engagement is key. The social network we have does exactly that.
“Anybody can take part in it, from the general manager down to anyone in the business. Each restaurant can have its own page, so the managers and team members can interact and communicate and share views about new offerings within the company and give their feedback on things like new uniforms.
“If a team member posts on the site, everybody in the company sees that post, from the top to the bottom. So, if someone posts a problem about maintenance, and the maintenance team realise that the chief executive is seeing that post, then they tend to get on with things a bit quicker.”
Pizza Hut is now looking to take HutSpace a step further with the development of Hut TV, which will allow the group’s staff training programmes to go mobile.”It’s different and distinctive and over the longer term it will make us a special place to work, rather than anywhere else,” added Spencer.
Pizza Hut’s three-year refurbishment programme has seen six sites revamped so far, with 80 sites expected to be complete by the end of next year and a further 80 the year after.