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The Official Baldrige Blog

How a National Role Model in Restaurant Management Makes “Impact Globally”

image of front cover of October/November 2016 issue of Facilitator, which shows K&N restaurant building

Front cover of the October/November 2016 issue of Facilitator

Credit: Restaurant Facility Management Association

Baldrige Award-winning K&N Management—developer of the Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes fast-casual restaurant brand based in Austin, Texas—is featured in the cover story of the October/November 2016 issue of Facilitator, a trade publication for members of the Restaurant Facility Management Association.

Among other unique practices of the small business, K&N Management’s cross-sector training program for other organizations is highlighted in the article, “Pursuit of Excellence” (pages 54–63). Offerings include a half-day workshop on customer service. For more in-depth learning, one- and two-day sessions teach about the company’s Business Excellence Model, its focus on continuous improvement, and its strategic planning and other processes, which are aligned with the Baldrige Excellence Framework. The longer training also allows participants to experience K&N Management’s “guest-delight culture” through a tour of its restaurants.

The article notes that K&N Management’s brand director Allyson Young launched the training in response to the widespread interest expressed by other organizations in benchmarking the business’s processes and results after it won national recognition through the Baldrige Award in 2010. “More than 1,400 people from 70 organizations have enrolled in the training sessions,” states Facilitator staff writer Sherleen Mahoney. “While the majority were from the restaurant industry, Young has trained attendees from defense companies, schools, hair salons, video gaming companies, and hospitals and clinics.”

Mahoney also details the small business’s commitment to supporting local community organizations through volunteering and monetary donations. For example, Mahoney reports that for four years, Mighty Fine Burgers has helped raise funds that provide free breakfasts and after-school and summer meals for kids in need, as well as groceries to stock local food pantries in Texas. In addition, as part of its primary partnership with another charity, the company matches its employees’ monthly donations of more than $2,500 to provide various forms of care for children in Africa. Mahoney concludes that the Baldrige Award recipient’s commitment to quality in its restaurant business combined with its charitable giving are making “an important impact globally.”

K&N Management Co-Owner Ken Schiller said his business is “honored and thrilled” about the new article, adding that he particularly likes the title, “Pursuit of Excellence,” that describes the ongoing focus of Mighty Fine and K&N Management. “Since receiving the Baldrige Award in 2010 we have continued to rigorously apply the [Baldrige Excellence Framework] criteria to every aspect of our organization. As a result, we have continued to improve and innovate and have moved the needle in meaningful ways across our company,” said Schiller, who also is serving a three-year term on the Judges’ Panel for the Baldrige Award. “It has also been our pleasure to share our best practices and the Baldrige framework with organizations of all sizes and industries from around the world.”  

About the author

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP). Her work has focused on producing BPEP publications and communications. She also has been highly involved in the Baldrige Award process, Baldrige examiner training, and other offerings of the program.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a double major, receiving highest distinction for her thesis in the interdisciplinary Political & Social Thought Program. She also has a master's degree from Georgetown University, where her studies and thesis focused on social and public policy issues. 

When not working, she sits in traffic in one of the most congested regions of the country, receives consolation from her rescued beagles, writes poetry, practices hot yoga, and tries to cultivate a foundation for three kids to direct their own lifelong learning (and to PLEASE STOP YELLING at each other—after all, we'll never end wars if we can't even make peace at home!).

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The title *Pursuit of Excellence* is appropriate in that one is motivated to strive towards *Excellence* yet acknowledging that not even the best in class can say we have arrived. It is continuously searching for sustainable competitive advantage in a highly turbulent environment. If you are the best you still must compete against yourself in a continuous improvement culture.
Congratulations to Ken and the team - nice recognition via Blogrige and in the article! K&N walks their talk - Texans are proud of you and your continual focus on performance excellence! It is nice to have a role model that pursues excellence!

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