Can you imagine every fast food chain winning the Baldrige Award because of food quality, customer service, or innovative menus? Probably not. Why? Because most of them demonstrate it’s all about low price and average service. Well, here is an exception.
K&N Management was a 2010 recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and 2010 Texas Award for Performance Excellence. Their vision is “to become world famous by delighting one guest at a time.” As a restaurant management group, they were only the second of their kind to be recognized with a Baldrige Award. K&N operates out of Austin, Texas, and is the owner of Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes, as well as Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q, with eight locations and approximately 500 staff members in total. With a dedication to concept design, operational excellence, and meeting or exceeding key guest requirements, K&N Management is certainly worth taking a second look at.
K&N was started by Ken Schiller and Brian Nolen in Austin back in 1993, with the goal of delighting every guest that walked through their doors. By the next year, they had purchased the rights to the Austin-area Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q franchise, and opened the first store: a combination gas station, convenience store, and restaurant that specializes in smoked meats. By 2005, three more franchise locations had been opened. In 2007, Schiller and Nolen opened Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes, and have been adding locations to the roster since then. On average, K&N does more than $3.5 million per year in single-unit sales, and has earned titles like, “Best Place to Work” among large employers in Central Texas by the Austin American-Statesman. So, they’ve got a good foundation. How did they build upon that?
By running internal inspections, benchmarking themselves both internally and externally, and ensuring exceptional food quality, K&N guarantees customer satisfaction. Mystery shoppers wearing hidden cameras and “Manager on the Line” training keeps employees in their best form, allowing for many training opportunities. Per the Baldrige criteria, “The success of members of your workforce depends increasingly on having opportunities for personal learning and for practicing new skills.” Compared to industry averages, K&N provides 50% more training time for hourly team members, resulting in increased continuity between restaurants and customer satisfaction. In addition to all this training, “A Players” are recognized amongst the staff for their exceptional service at delighting guests, encouraging a healthy level of competition within the company.
At Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes, super-fresh, all-natural, hormone-free chuck is ground right on site, and is sourced from local farmers, setting a good example of societal responsibility. Simultaneously, they’ve implemented these state-of-the-art Hand Jacuzzis in place of hand washing sinks, which massage and clean at the same time and ensure an accurate scrubbing every time. Their bathrooms are not only clean, but have footpulls on the doors, and cup holders on the walls. This kind of ingenuity is what makes the difference between a satisfied customer, and an elated customer.
Ken and Brian believe that if you run an excellent organization, everything else takes care of itself. With key business drivers such as food quality, speed of service, cleanliness, Texas hospitality, and accuracy, it is no wonder K&N continues to reign in the kingdom of fast, quality food.