Uptown Network today announced that it has been working on a revolutionary training capability for the hospitality industry. This new mobile product can reduce training expenses by over 80% and dramatically improve customer service. This product extension integrates with Uptown Network’s digital wine list and menu. For large organizations that have a training staff, Uptown Network’s new product will leverage their skills across an enterprise. The solution is currently in beta testing and will be made generally available in January of 2014.
“Shula’s is constantly looking for ways to improve guest service across our franchise system,” said Christian Dammert, Director of Operations for Shula’s Steak Houses and Shula Burger. “Having an automated, mobile solution for training will save us countless hours and significantly reduce operational costs. It’s a win, win, win.”
One of the big questions in hospitality today is whether mobile devices will replace waiters and waitresses or empower them. Several startups are claiming that mobile tablets can reduce or replace them. Uptown Network believes that servers should be empowered, not replaced via mobile devices. Apple has proven how successful this approach is in their retail stores. Training is a key element.
A recent MasterCard survey reports that 80% of all restaurant complaints are related to poor service. Education, training and testing are the root cause of the majority of these complaints. According to the National Restaurant Association, there are 13,100,000 employees in the United States restaurant industry that need regular training. The worldwide number is significantly larger.
Today, most restaurants either use a paper based training system or a web based system. Both have drawbacks. Paper based systems are time consuming and error prone. Web based systems require staff to access a PC, either in the back office or a POS system terminal. Both approaches are extremely costly and neither has proven to be effective. Uptown Network is the first company to provide an automated mobile solution integrated with the mobile menu and wine list.
Harvard, MIT, Google and other leading organizations have been championing the use of ’MOOC’ architecture. MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Courses. It is different than an app or web based architecture. The MOOC approach is designed from the ground up specifically for training and testing. Uptown Network has created a secure MOOC offering within their digital menu app.
“Service is a key component in hospitality and a mobile device cannot take the place of interpersonal interactions,” said Jack Serfass, CEO of Uptown Network. “To turn our tablet based menus into thousands of local and mobile ‘teachers’ is fantastic. This empowers front of the house staff and dramatically reduces training costs. The real beneficiaries of this new product will be the guests in the restaurants of Uptown Network customers as they will get superior customer service.”
In addition to mobile, Uptown Network has taken into consideration local and social capabilities. As staff passes training and tests, they are rewarded with badges that they can post on their LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media graphs. Additionally, all training and testing can be customized to local stores. An unlimited number of customized courseware and tests can be created for specific locations or one test can be distributed enterprise wide.
Uptown Network has filed for a provisional patent application protecting its invention of the integration of a MOOC with social, mobile and local apps in hospitality. This new product will be delivered as software as a service (SaaS), so there are no web servers or software to install.