Case study: Nando’s


Nando’s asked us to find new ways of working that would give them a competitive advantage.

During our four month management innovation project we discovered new management practices that led to significant and sustainable improvements in employee engagement, customer experiences and sales.

Working closely with the management teams of 16 restaurants, we were able to demonstrate our ability to change the behaviour of front line teams. We’re now working with Nando’s L&D team to develop this approach across the whole UK business.

The challenge

Nando’s already sets the benchmarks for others to follow. They have a well deserved reputation for being the best place to work, they have completely fanatical customers and the business continues to grow. Nando’s challenge to us… can you make the best even better?

Our insight

Before we tried to change anything, we spent a month getting under the skin of the business. We worked shifts; we interviewed team members, managers and customers; we visited competitors; and above all we invested time in observing and experiencing the operation firsthand.

This in depth enquiry allowed us to really understand employees’ perspectives, customer experiences and expectations and the rhythm and constraints of the operation. It also allowed us to identify exactly what Nando’s best people managers did differently that enabled them to outperform their peers. These insights allowed us to start the project with a very clear model of what already worked best and to identify a number of opportunities where we could test ideas based on recent research in psychology and behavioural economics.

Our approach

We structured the project around a series of ‘sprints’. Each sprint focused on a specific people management practice where we felt there were opportunities to experiment and learn. Over the course of the project we looked at issues like shift briefing, closedowns and on-shift coaching, as well as operational improvements in areas like food quality and shift changeovers.

For each sprint, we worked with the restaurant management teams to help them make a series of ‘little bets’ — small but significant changes in the way people worked. These experiments were prompted by our observations and the latest research about how people really flourish at work. Critically, we made sure that the management teams collected and reviewed the evidence for themselves about whether the changes had made a difference to team member engagement, customer experiences and business performance.

By building on the new ideas that were shown to work, we were able to change behaviour iteratively and in an evidence based way. By replicating successful new practices in other restaurants over the course of the pilot, we were able to build a clear business case and refine our understanding of the potential added value to the wider business.

The results

Nando's results.001.jpeg.001

What we did next

We are now running a six month development programme for Nando’s L&D team to develop their consultancy skills and expertise. We then intend to work in partnership to grow and replicate our approach across the whole UK business.

What they said about us

David Manly, Head of Customer: “The approach taken by The Pioneers was truly unique as their advice and recommendations came from immersing themselves within our business as opposed to offering opinions from outside it. They have been a pleasure to work with and bring substantial intellectual rigour, delivered with warmth and humility, offering some fresh insights to even the most skilled and experienced of restaurant managers.”

Greg Swift, Regional Managing Director: “It was refreshing and exciting to work with Matt and Bee. They were humble (and smart) enough to take the time to understand our business not only commercially but from the inside out. Right through the entire program they took great care to truly listen to what we wanted and how we were feeling along the way. They reacted with precision and flexibility but also with a genuine smile and a will for everyone involved to find ways to improve. Never at a loss for ideas but more importantly, direction delivered with compassion and understanding of individual and group needs. The Pioneers get it, they have an innate ability to identify great and authentic leadership and quietly shine the light for others to follow.”