How to achieve operational excellence in hospitality

Alongside serving great food, the most successful restaurants are built on two key principles: operational excellence and exceptional customer service.
Michael Radley
Dec 2023
4 min read

What is operational excellence?

Operational excellence is the commitment to maintaining the highest standards across your brand. It’s the dedication to continuously innovate processes, services and products. And it’s about creating a culture that empowers employees to consistently deliver exceptional customer service.

Why is operational excellence important?

  • Improves customer loyalty: high levels of consistency mean customers know what to expect every time they visit, which leads to brand loyalty.
  • Reduces costly mistakes: putting the right systems in place, enables employees to get it right every time. This saves time, resources and ultimately boosts your bottom line. Discover how much time you could save with our savings calculator.
  • Enhances customer experience: better processes save employees time so they can focus on activities that drive value, like delivering excellent customer service.
  • Increases agility: businesses that encourage a culture of continuous improvement can stay ahead of the competition by adapting quickly to changing consumer and market demands.
  • Boosts productivity: teams are empowered and know how to do their job well. They have the tools to support them which improves motivation, job satisfaction and boosts performance... and your customers will notice it.
  • Hygiene rating of 5: control and visibility over your operations means your business is always prepared when an EHO arrives.

Trail provides the framework for operational excellence. And helps teams focus on the work that matters. Discover the right solution for your business and supercharge your operations.

Trail guides teams through their day, from daily checks to seasonal menu changes, ensuring everyone hits the same high standard. Discover a solution for your business.

Five businesses achieving operational excellence

Below are five of the best hospitality businesses out there—not only are they well oiled machines, but they go above and beyond to create unique customer experiences.


Artisan bakery brand Gails pride themselves on their high levels of consistency. You can walk into any store, in any city, at any time and know you’ll get the same excellent experience every time. Digital checklists underpin their operations removing admin, paperwork, and consequently, any mistakes. By building the right daily habits they give team members more time to focus on customer experience.


Contemporary British Restaurant chain Bills use visibility across their sites to fine tune their operational performance. They found that one-off audits couldn’t give them the real-time visibility they needed to maintain their high standards. Switching to digital checklists let Managers and HQ know exactly what was happening across all of their branches. This helps them focus their attention where it’s needed most.

New World Trading Company 

Multi award-winning New World Trading Company empowers team members at site level. They have created a culture of autonomy across seven brands and hundreds of staff. The leaders set a clear framework for their teams, provide the right tools, and then get out the way so staff could do their best work. This allowed them to make their name as one of the most unique brands in hospitality, and named in the Times Top 100 as one of the Best Places to Work, 2 years running.


High street dessert brand Creams Cafe maintain their operational excellence through good communication between head office and teams. They recently digitised their operations so they can instantly and seamlessly cascade information from head office to staff on the ground. Teams always know what to do, exactly how and when to do it. This has has enabled them to adapt fast, scale, and open new sites, even during the covid pandemic.


Pioneering brand Wagamama believe in Kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement. As part of their commitment to continually improve, they are always looking at how they can upgrade their processes for better results. Previously, health and safety was managed with a 90-page logbook, they saw this an opportunity to digitise for better efficiency. Now, data is stored securely on hospitality checklist app, Trail. This streamlines the working day and makes it easier for teams to get things right every time.

Switch to Trail and join the UK's best brands.

How to achieve operational excellence

There's no exact formula for operational excellence, it will look different for every business. But there are some easy steps you can follow to achieve the best standard of operational excellence possible:

  1. Create great products – creating something that your customers want and will keep coming back for should be at the very core of your brand.
  2. Create unique customer experiences – be intentional about customer service, ask yourself "what standards can I put in place that will help me to create a memorable experience and ensure customers return?"
  3. Foster communication between teams – have a system in place that allows you to communicate efficiently and accurately from head office to teams on the ground. And that allows head office to see what has been actioned.
  4. Make sure your teams are happy – empower employees with the tools they need to succeed in their job. Ruthlessly simplify processes and reduce noise at site level so employees can focus and be productive.
  5. Seek consistency – get complete visibility over your operations and site performance so you can identify quickly if brand standards are slipping. This will allow you to allocate time and resources where they’re needed most.
  6. Prioritise safety – make compliance a habit by building health and safety tasks into your team's working day.
  7. Create a culture of continuous improvement – share your vision of innovation and establish the right system of behaviours to drive it.
  8. Create good team habits – build better, more consistent habits into the workplace to help employees make better decisions without needing to ask permission.

How Trail can help

Throughout the day, Trail’s smart checklists tell the right person what to do at the right time, forming the right daily habits. From opening checks to cashing up Trail provides the framework for operational excellence.

Teams are empowered to do their work efficiently; managers are freed up from chasing and can focus on coaching teams to provide better customer experience.

Real-time insights and dashboards show managers which teams need help the most so you can focus your attention where it’s needed.

Continual improvement is made easy with clear communication from HQ to teams on the ground.

Deliver consistently great standards with Trail.

McManus Pubs customer testimonial

What customers are saying

"I f****** love Trail, it's taking my businesses to the next level."
Josh Paterson
"We rarely provide training to our guys, they just bought into the idea straight away. I love that I have a full visual of everyone's activity in front of me."
Katrin Toots
Compliance Manager
“It’s not a paper diary that’s covered in barbecue sauce. We have clarity over what’s done in our sites and are confident going into our audits.”
Jay Brown
“The EHO visited almost every site last year and every store was given a five star rating."
Jay Brown
Operations Chef
"We turned our Costa Checks and various compliance forms into regular tasks on Trail, which has contributed to some of the best scores we have had."
Delroy Daniels
Operations Director
"Our teams love it, it gives our managers of all levels absolute clarity on what they need to achieve every day."
James Brown
Operations Director

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