Chipotle, Systems, and Growth Spurts: How I Advanced my Business while Standing in Line

The other day I was in line at Chipotle ordering my dinner. Watching the process behind the counter got me thinking. The way a restaurant plans and prepares each day for their rushes is a really great example of how companies should think about setting up their processes. 

Every restaurant has crazy busy periods and then very slow periods throughout the day. For Chipotle they’re dealing with lunch and dinner hour rushes. So what do they do in-between when it’s slow?  They aren’t sitting around waiting for the rush of customers to come in. They’re cooking large quantities of meat, cooking and mixing up the rice, preparing the salsa, double checking that they have enough cheese, etc.  

Every restaurant does this and it makes sense! Of course they take the time to prepare the food ahead of their rushes. They do this for you, their customer! If they didn’t, you would have to wait in line for way too long, have poor service, and you would probably end up leaving. This would be a lost sale for them and a bad result.

The way Chipotle (and other restaurants) prepares for each of its rushes is what you need to do when you’re slow and waiting for the next burst of growth. 

Think of your business like a Chipotle restaurant. Ask yourself, “What will I need during my next rush?” And then set up those systems. Take the time to set up and establish your processes while you have time and you will have a MASSIVE payoff when you’re crazy busy and swamped with customers!

You’ll be able to process your invoices fast and respond to customers quickly.  Your customers are going to love you for it! You’re going to love it because it takes the stress away, even during your highest pressure times. 

You’ll have the tools, processes, backup and structure to be able to get your company through that growth burst without sacrificing sales and customer relationships. Just think, no more scrambling to get an order through or losing out on a sale because you couldn’t respond to your customer quickly enough! 

I used this technique for a Fortune 500 retailer the other day. It was a complete game-changer! How?

Prior to my systems set-up, the CIO and various VP leaders embarked on a trip to visit five of their top suppliers. This trip spanned multiple teams and included a number of the top leaders across the organization. Different leaders had to take action on various tasks, all requiring precise coordination of efforts. Complicated, right?

There was no system in place to help coordinate their efforts and boy, did they feel the pain! One of the directors spent hours the Sunday night before the trip manually updating the leaders’ trip packets through individual Word docs. Not fun! Not efficient! Not effective!

So this time around, this Fortune 500 retailer got wise! They brought me in ahead of time. We spent time identifying the essential tasks and timelines, who needed to communicate with whom, and parceling out responsibility for various tasks. 

We next set up a tracking system to allow efficient communication between and within teams so they could take action when needed. Then we trained everyone how to use this streamlined system. It worked like a charm for their trip, allowing last minute adaptations without all the scrambling and fuss.

And the best part? This system is now ready for multiple future trips! The team does not have to go through this setup process ever again. I created it so that it is specific enough to give the team what they needed but generic enough to be used over and over, either for future trips or for internal or external conferences. 

The hours and days we spent reviewing what was required, setting up, socializing and training on the process is paying off now and for months and years to come! 

Find ways to do this in your business and reap the benefits!


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