Editor’s note: Today’s post is by Dorothy Shih, IS Senior Project Manager, and Young Kim, IS Network Administrator for Panda Restaurant Group, based in Rosemead, California. Panda Restaurant Group owns and operates many restaurant brands, including over 2,200 Panda Express locations around the world. In the United States, Panda Restaurant Group uses Chromebooks to train associates on customer service and cooking.
As the American Chinese Original and largest family-owned Asian dining concept in the United States, guests have high expectations when they come to a Panda Express location for their favorite dishes, such as our Original Orange Chicken, Broccoli Beef, and KungPao Chicken Breast—and we want to deliver the best each time. Our restaurant associates are the face of our company, and the individuals who deliver an exceptional Asian dining experience to our guests. That’s why our associates are provided thorough training in cooking our dishes so the food tastes great every time. In almost 400 locations, we use Chromebooks as a training aid, giving new employees who work on the frontlines or those who need a fast and easy way to review training e-modules.
Before Chromebooks, our associates had to compete for training time on a restaurant’s single computer workstation, which was also used to order supplies, update work schedules, and clock in and out, as well as many other functions related to running a restaurant. When other coworkers needed access to the workstation, associates had to stop in the middle of their training e-modules and then finish up at a later time, sometimes hours or even days later.
We decided that restaurants needed a second device exclusively for training. We first tried tablets, but realized we needed keyboards to help associates get through training faster. We also needed devices that were durable enough to stand up to the harsh kitchen and food-prep environment.
After some experimentation, we ultimately chose the rugged ASUS Chromebook Flip C213. These Chromebooks run in managed guest sessions so they’re easily shareable. As soon as workers open the Chromebooks, they see the Chrome browser and can log into web-based apps like Microsoft Office 365 and our training e-modules. We even have an app that was created to allow associates to review training videos offline, since some of the restaurants don’t have access to fast or reliable Wi-Fi.
With Chrome Enterprise, there’s no downtime when adding new apps, installing software or waiting for IT teams to update devices. In some of our other restaurants, employees use Chromebooks to clock in and out using the HotSchedules app on Chrome Browser. If we decide to expand the app to more restaurants, we believe we can easily manage the process in the Google Admin console.
With the Google Admin console’s central management tools, our IT team can set up or enable Chromebooks without any work or time needed by restaurant managers. We can also lock down Wi-Fi access so that Chromebooks can only connect to each location’s network, which helps keep devices secure. We also use the Chrome Remote Desktop Extension to access Chromebooks to troubleshoot problems.We’ve had virtually no issues with them—usually the support requests are about the web software, not Chrome Browser or Chrome OS.
So far, the feedback from our associates has been very positive. Clark Yang, a training leader at a Panda Express in Los Angeles, says, “Chromebooks make it easier for new associates to complete e-modules and onboarding.” Our associates need very little training to use Chromebooks.
Since the Chromebooks are such a successful training tool, we’re looking to add them to more locations and are brainstorming on other places to use them in our organization. Panda Cares, our philanthropic organization, has regular fundraising and community events where we’re testing Chromebooks for guest check-in and consent forms, which is much easier to manage than paper forms.
Our restaurant associates work hard to show customers that our food isn’t from an assembly line, and cook it to order each day. With the help of Chromebooks in our training, we’re making sure that our Original Orange Chicken tastes great, no matter which restaurant guests visit. With our excellent training programs, aided by the use of Chromebooks, we’re confident Panda Express will continue to be recognized as a Best Place to Work and an employer of choice for years to come.