Quality Management and Team Building Goes Digital

Interview with Flowtify founder and CEO Daniel Vollmer

It’s a well-known fact that things can really heat up in busy restaurants or cafés. Top quality and good service, however, must be maintained even in the most stressful situations to keep the customer happy at all times. Checklists help employees maintain their work flow, which is essential for the success of a restaurant business. With Flowtify, Daniel Vollmer has developed a tool that helps to organise and maintain the right workflow.

Why did you develop Flowtify?

Traditionally, restaurants or cafés have paper checklists that have to be ticked off in the course of a day’s work. They cover the obligatory documentation for hygiene standards, for example. A completely different example would be the general workflow for private events like wedding receptions. With the app, employees can work on their own. It’s also very time- and energy-consuming to always have to print out the list and get it back on time. And hygiene checklists have to be verified completely before being archived for five years! It sometimes takes days to notice that signatures are missing from the cleaning team.

How did you get the idea?

I owned a café for ten years with a nightclub next door. After about four years I had around 20 employees. When we started employing more than ten people, I noticed that traditional checklists weren’t enough. When it got really busy, the checklists were misplaced, forgotten or not filled out properly, because everyone thought everyone else would do it. So I asked myself: how can I change that? That’s when I got the idea of developing a digital application that would make working with checklists easier and more attractive, especially for my employees. The result worked out very well. Employees worked better and faster on their own. Generally speaking, they found the app to be a help, not a surveillance tool. Especially at four in the morning, when concentration starts to slacken. And I could sleep better, knowing that the work was getting done properly, or that I would be informed about any problems right away instead of days later. And I didn’t have to worry about archiving anymore.

What all does Flowtify do?

You can use checklists for all areas of a business. Detailed work instructions inform the employee of everything he has to do, by what time. Individual tasks can include videos, PDFs, or photos to provide inexperienced employees with detailed assistance for their work. For example, if they have the task of “cleaning the coffee machine”, the instruction manual can be provided. A client made a short video on his smartphone that’s now on Flowtify, in order to show his employees how the breakfast buffet should be set. To check off the tasks as complete, you can request temperature, photos and a signature. If an employee can’t get his job done in due form, he has to give a reason. That way, the restaurant manager knows immediately what he has to do to promptly solve the problem.

This is just the functionality that is so useful to chain stores like bakeries or franchising concepts!

Flowtify also provides quality assurance and quality assessment, as well as tools for team-building!

Why did you apply for the Techstars METRO Accelerator?

When we started with Flowtify in my café, I got a lot of positive feedback not only from my employees, but from other business owners in the industry as well. That’s when it became clear to me that it could be a good business model. I was doing some research and came across Techstars METRO Accelerator, and I thought, this is the perfect program to work out and develop my idea. In the time between selling my café at the end of 2014 and the application deadline in August, I put together a team of programmers and am happy that I was chosen for the accelerator program.

What do you like about the accelerator and what have you learned as a team?

First of all, this has been a great experience for us. Thanks to the close contact with the many mentors and experts who have supported us in every aspect, we have learned so much. I think it’s amazing. At first, Flowtify was an app with checklists. Nothing more and nothing less. With the help of Techstars, METRO and R/GA, we have developed our product to the point that it is now much more focussed on the customer, which has given us a lot of ideas that we’ve been able to turn into reality. Now we’ve learned that we are not just a checklist app. We can contribute to team building, helping employees work better on their own and find their place in the team faster, without having to constantly be asking someone something. In one month in the accelerator, we have developed more rapidly than we probably would have done in a year. An example of that is how we managed to get a decree from the Ministry of Consumer Protection of North Rhine-Westphalia to recognize Flowtify as digital evidence for HACCP inspection reports. Without the help of the mentors, we would still be looking for someone to talk to at the ministry.

What is the biggest challenge you have to overcome at the moment?

Our biggest challenge is to put into action all the in-depth input we’ve gotten over the past three months to improve our product in all its various aspects and ensure our continued growth.

What is your goal for Flowtify this year?

This year, we want to reach a client base of 500-700. It’s an ambitious goal, but we’ll get there!

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