I’m not claiming to foresee the future, but this is what I wrote in 2011:
“Although this recession was unusually deep and nasty, unemployment will eventually drop. Now is the time to position yourself for the coming changes. If you were in business five years ago, you will remember the chronic food service labor shortages that plagued many operators. Whether this occurs again late this year, or next year, now is the time to position yourself to blunt the effects of the inevitable tightness that will occur in the labor market.”
My client base gives me a good idea of exactly what is going on in the industry. While slow business trends and rising food costs were even recently the most prevalent complaints, now I hear:
• My Help Wanted posts yield no applicants
• I can’t seem to find anyone to work
• I have seen a huge employee turnover
• My workers are increasingly unreliable
• I am forced to pay higher wages for lower quality employees
• I can barely get the food out
While not all parts of the country are facing the same situation, this is from an owner in Austin, TX:
“My number one business challenge is finding quality employees. The hospitality workforce in Austin is stretched to the limit. Everyone is scrambling.”
This reminds me of my favorite Midwestern client who called me in 2009 and said, “I had to offer $15 per hour to an unkempt musician and I had to beg him to start immediately. He was going to be the paper packer! After two days, he said, ‘Sorry, man, I gotta go. Someone else offered me $17,’ and he was out the door.”
OK, so maybe I am clairvoyant but here are three ways you can ensure that today’s employees will show up for work tomorrow:
Carefully crafted fraction of the action plans can keep your staff motivated and attuned to the customers. What if you gave one percent of your gross sales to your employees? Think they might be happier on a very busy day?
One of my clients had an annual contract to provide hot breakfasts within a two-hour window to 50 different school locations. In the afternoon, after everything was successfully delivered and subsequently picked up, the owner handed out $20 bills to all staff members in thanks for their efforts. His employees actually looked forward to this challenging day each year!
Employees have to go to court, they have medical appointments, and their children have needs. Yes, the orders have to be processed and delivered, but great bosses help their staff to find time to take care of their personal business. Remember, one of your great business ownership perks is that you can come and go as you please; your employees can’t.
Michael Rosman is a member of the Catersource Consulting Unit. If you would like information about these services or to schedule him for an on-site consultation at your location, please email Carl Sacks at [email protected]. His book, Lessons Learned From Our Mistakes – and other war stories from the catering battlefield is available through Amazon.