Getting the Most Out of Available Space
ProcessModel Simulation and Flowchart Software
Administrators at The Cheesecake Factory chain of restaurants, headquartered in Calabasas Hills, California, knew that the notorious problem of inefficient restaurant service can be attributed to either of two major culprits: the serving process itself is inefficient, or there is unused seating, despite the line outside the door. Administrators at The Cheesecake Factory employed the specific capabilities of simulation and analysis software from ProcessModel Inc. of Provo, Utah, to address the second of these problems. The Cheesecake Factory then pursued an optimized table mix that would offer maximum throughput using minimum space.
To illustrate the need for an optimized table mix, suppose The Cheesecake Factory has 50 parties of two waiting to be seated, but only 10 two-top tables. The additional two-person parties will likely be seated at four-top or six-top tables. When a party of ten walks in, there will likely be no suitable place for them, despite the dozens of empty seats. In other words, if there are 300 available seats, but only 200 seats that meet each party’s needs, there are 100 potential spaces for customers that are simply being wasted.
To create a solution that could effectively address this problem, managers at The Cheesecake Factory first had to acquire several essential pieces of information:
• What is the party mix? In other words, on average, how many parties of two, four, or 10 are in attendance during peak hours?
• When is each of the parties most likely to arrive?
• What is the existing table mix? (i.e., how many two-top, four-top, and six-top tables are in the restaurant at any given moment?)
• How many locations are available for large parties?
Once this essential information was gathered, administrators used ProcessModel’s consulting services and software to create a solution.
The information about The Cheesecake Factory processes enabled consultants at ProcessModel to create a computerized simulation of the flow of the restaurant’s customers through its existing system. This simulation allowed the consultants to observe current processes, predict bottlenecks, and, through optimization, ultimately optimize table mixes. They then reported on the predicted dilemmas and possible solutions to assist The Cheesecake Factory in creating a more streamlined overall process. By instituting the optimized table mix, The Cheesecake Factory is now able to achieve maximum throughput.
It’s important to note that the optimized table mixes are created specifically for use during peak hours. During times when the restaurant is not at maximum capacity, it is less important to use an optimized table mix, as there is no shortage of available seating, regardless of each party’s size.
The outcome of the model created for The Cheesecake Factory has been astounding. The optimized table mixes have had a profound effect in the locations where they have been adopted. In those locations, the optimized table mix has resulted in a 15-percent increase in revenue.
In addition, the optimized table mix resulted in a 30-percent increase in seat utilization. This increase was facilitated by the model on a detailed level, as it allowed The Cheesecake Factory to recognize that its need for two-top and four-top tables far exceeded its need for larger tables. Through the use of optimized table mixes, the Cheesecake Factory has dramatically increased seat utilization while decreasing the total number of seats.
Beyond the obvious immediate benefits of implementing the optimized table mixes, there is the immeasurable secondary benefit of providing customers with a consistently exceptional dining experience. Unlike many innovations that increase revenue at the cost of customer service, The Cheesecake Factory’s optimized table mixes are mutually beneficial to restaurant and customer alike. Customers are more likely to support a system that ensures consistently prompt and efficient service.
ProcessModel Simulation and
- Graphically displays the top ten locations where customers are spending the greatest amount of time waiting
- Users can watch a simulation and see the physical movement of objects through the process.
- Easily creates multiple what-if scenarios to test various change proposals
- Runs multiple replications to increase the statistical accuracy of randomness in a model