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Musings on the Foodservice Industry

New App Solves a Major Pain Point for Restaurants

May 26 2016

More than a year ago now, I was enjoying conversation with a friend of mine who is a bartender. His phone was buzzing like mad – constantly receiving text messages. It got to the point that it was so distracting that I had to ask what was going on. Little did I know his reply would change the course of my career.

“One bartender needs a shift covered and now my phone will be blowing up for the next few hours.”

After he looked at his phone, he started laughing uncontrollably. I grabbed his phone to take a look and there, in the midst of countless messages about converting a shift was a single word reply “UNSUBSCRIBE”. The message had been sent by an employee that was terminated 3 or 4 weeks ago, my friend explains. “We keep trying to make a new group thread, but someone keeps replying to the old one and this poor guy can’t stop getting text messages from us.”

I knew something had to be done and so we began writing the code for a new app that night.

Crew, The One App for Everyone on Your Teamcrew

Over 5,000 restaurants are using Crew to communicate more efficiently, distribute and change the shift schedule and enforce a new level of accountability. Crew was designed at the outset for the restaurant industry as a single app that everyone can use to communicate with each other. A manager or owner creates a new organization in Crew and then invites everyone to it. Once added, any employee can send a message to any other employee(s) without the need for knowing phone numbers. In fact, using Crew helps hide your private contact information like phone number from other employees who you may not wish to share your phone number with.

Part of making communication more efficient is making sure that only employees who need to see messages should get notified. One of the most important ways Crew does this is by allowing you to create sub-groups like “Managers” or “Bartenders” which give those employees a private way to chat about issues that don’t relate to other employees.

Another important way Crew reduces notifications is by using Location Groups. Location Groups allow managers to send messages only to the employees who are physically at the store right now. This is done using the built-in location awareness of everyone’s phones and is therefore completely automatic. This allows you as manager to pull out your phone at any time and see who is currently physically at work. You can even get daily reports emailed to you to help track attendance.

One of the most popular uses of Crew is in distributing and communicating changes to the shift schedule. Crew provides managers two options for distributing the schedule: either take a picture with your phone of the existing schedule or create a schedule within the app by entering shifts individually. Whichever option you choose, when an employee of yours needs to post an open shift, they’ll be able to do that with just a few taps and instantly alert co-workers that a new shift is available. You as a manager can use the same mechanism to advertise extra shifts that you might add to the schedule. Of course, any employee requesting a shift will generate a notification for you as the manager to either approve or deny the cover.

Managers tell us that while all these features are great, what they most love about Crew is the new accountability that Crew has brought to their organization. Employees have no excuses for missing a shift or not getting a cover. This idea of employee accountability is built into Crew from the beginning. Perhaps the best example is in the Tasks module which enables you to assign tasks to anyone on your Crew and be notified when they complete it. Even better, you can make tasks repeat so employees are getting reminders to complete procedures like the bathroom check or other regular maintenance.

Crew is built in San Francisco and is free of charge for use of Crew Basic. There is an optional upgrade to Crew Pro which provides more management and reporting features. You can download Crew at crewapp.com/download.

Thanks for letting us tell you more about Crew. As a gift, we’re giving readers of The Food Service Blog a free Crew T-Shirt. Just email your size + address to danny@crewapp.com and just mention this post.