Hiring

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leadership Facepalm, Part Three

Leadership Facepalm, Part Three

by David Klemt

Frustrated man sitting on couch

We almost got to next year without another viral leadership facepalm moment but then an Olive Garden manager sent a memo.

In case you’re unaware of the now-infamous Olive Garden memo, here’s a recap:

  • Zero tolerance for calling off.
  • Sick team members must come in and prove they’re ill.
  • If someone’s dog dies, they must bring the dead animal in to prove its death.
  • Family emergencies are not private and must come with an explanation.

The manager who authored the memo also takes time to boast about their perfect attendance record.

For the curious, the first entry in our leadership facepalms is here. Part two is here.

The Letter

Below you’ll find the letter, addressed to “ALL Team Members.” To read it in its entirety, click here.

“Our call offs are occurring at a staggering rate. From now on, if you call off, you might as well go out and look for another job. We are no longer tolerating ANY excuse for calling off. If you’re sick, you need to come prove it to us. If your dog died, you need to bring him in and prove it to us.”

I highly doubt that’s Olive Garden or Darden policy.

“If its a ‘family emergency’ and you can’t say, too bad. Go work somewhere else. If you only want morning shifts, too bad go work at a bank. If anyone from here on out calls out more than ONCE in the next 30 days you will not have a job.”

It doesn’t get any better when the manager brings up their own track record:

“Do you know in my 11.5 years at Darden how many days I called off? Zero. I came in sick. I got in a wreck literally on my to work one time, airbags went off and my car was totaled, but you know what, I made it to work, ON TIME! There are no more excuses.”

Interestingly, the manager implies they’re speaking for all the leaders:

“Us, collectively as a management team have had enough.”

A Breaking Point

First, I’m not pretending a staggering amount of operators, leadership teams, and team members aren’t at their breaking points. The labor shortage and staffing struggles are a real crisis in our industry (and others, of course).

Second, I’m not suggesting that operators and their teams aren’t justified in their frustration and anger.

If we’re to accept just this year’s reporting alone, it appears many people are comfortable being rude to service workers. It’s a disturbing trend, and it’s motivating people to leave public-facing roles. As they’re leaving, many are swearing off the hospitality industry entirely.

Third, I think the memo above highlights our need to address mental health in this industry. Sure, it’s easy to write this manager off as a jerk and terrible leader. But what if we look at this through the lens of stress?

The memo could easily be the manifestation of a breaking point. It’s also possible the entire management team was behind this email.

Damage Done

Let’s look at this situation solely as an example of poor judgment and leadership. Imagine the damage it could do to any restaurant or bar, chain or independent.

What do you think a memo like this does to the ability to recruit? To retain? How does such an email do anything but exacerbate labor problems?

Darden, Olive Garden’s parent, went into crisis management mode when this memo went viral. It appeared on Reddit, was picked up by news outlets and other websites, and exploded.

Ultimately, Darden terminated the manager to whom the memo is attributed: “We strive to provide a caring and respectful work environment for our team members. This message is not aligned with our company’s values. We can confirm we have parted ways with this manager.”

The Olive Garden location in Kansas where this situation took place may recover. They’re a large chain, people tend to have short memories for news, and regulars will likely stay loyal.

But what if this occurred at an independent restaurant? The damage could be irreparable.

Work Culture

Now, it should be obvious that from a simply operational standpoint, this situation highlights an unhealthy work environment and culture. That should go without saying.

So, instead I want to say something else.

Operators need to check in with their team members. Leaders, front of house, back of house—everyone. Stress levels are reaching breaking points and every one of your team members needs to know they matter, they’re safe, and they’re supported.

Check in. Survey your team. Be empathetic. And if you’re an operator, you need a support system of your own.

Being a leader doesn’t mean being infallible. It’s not poor leadership or weakness to admit you need help.

Image: Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

These are the Happiest Provinces in Canada

These are the Happiest Provinces in Canada

by David Klemt

Newfoundland and Labrador during daytime

If you’re wondering which province in Canada is the happiest, Statistics Canada has the answer—and the happiest may surprise you.

Of course, those who live and work in the happiest province won’t find it shocking. After all, they’re largely happy to be there.

However, if you expect the happiest province to be the home of Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or Canada… Well, you’re in for a surprise.

Earlier this week we took a look at the happiest cities and states in America. Congratulations Fremont, California, and Hawaii, respectively. To learn where 181 other cities and 49 states rank, please click here.

The Happiness Survey

Or more accurately, the “life satisfaction” survey. For this survey, that’s what Statistics Canada reveals: life satisfaction.

Interestingly, the survey is very simple. Apparently, Statistics Canada simply asked participants to rate the satisfaction of living in their province, zero through ten. For this survey, zero is least satisfied, ten is most.

Ages 15 through 75 (and older) were able to participate. The survey was also broken down to gauge the satisfaction of men and women.

Before we jump into the breakdown of province satisfaction or happiness, some good news. Reviewing the Statistics Canada data, most participants across all age groups are happy. In fact, age groups 65 to 74 and 75-plus appear to be happiest.

On the other side, ages 15 to 54 had the most people who rated their life satisfaction between zero and five. Even so, just over 20 percent of survey respondents rated their satisfaction a five or less.

So, on the whole, Canadians seem satisfied or happy with their lives, regardless of the province in which they live. Personally, I find that to be great news.

The Happiest Province

Okay, let’s dive into the reason you’re here: to learn which province is the happiest.

  1. Newfoundland and Labrador
  2. Prince Edward Island
  3. Quebec
  4. New Brunswick
  5. Manitoba
  6. Alberta
  7. Saskatchewa
  8. Nova Scotia
  9. Ontario
  10. British Columbia

The above rankings are determined by the percentage of survey respondents who rated their life satisfaction eight, nine or ten. So, if you’re in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island or Quebec, wow—you’re apparently one incredibly happy person.

Conversely, below you’ll find the rankings as determined by the largest percentage of respondents who rated their satisfaction a five or lower. As you’ll find, the list below isn’t simply the inverse of the one above.

  1. Ontario
  2. British Columbia
  3. New Brunswick
  4. Alberta
  5. Nova Scotia
  6. Prince Edward Island
  7. Manitoba
  8. Saskatchewa
  9. Quebec
  10. Newfoundland and Labrador

As far as Canada overall, the results of this particular survey are positive. Just 19.4 percent of survey respondents rated their satisfaction or happiness zero through five. And only 28.9 percent provided a rating of six or seven.

More than half of Canadians, 51.7 percent, rate their lives an eight, nine or ten. That’s some great and welcome news.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Which Cities and States are the Happiest?

Which US Cities and States are the Happiest?

by David Klemt

Yellow smiley face ball

As an entrepreneur and operator evaluating a market for a first location or expansion, it can help to know where people are happiest.

Equally as helpful: Knowing the cities and states that are the least happy. Not, necessarily, so an operator can avoid these markets.

Rather, one’s concept may be a ray of stress-free sunshine for a given community. Providing a great workplace with a positive culture can work wonders for both the happiest and least-happy places. And as the cornerstones of the communities they serve, restaurants and bars can improve their guests’ quality of life.

We’ve looked at the US cities with the greatest inflow and outflow (which can reveal happiness levels), as identified by Redfin. And we’ve checked out the best US retirement cities, researched by Clever.

Now, we’re taking a look at which US cities and states are the happiest and least happy, according to WalletHub. In case you’re unaware, personal finance site WalletHub researches a vast array of topics. You can browse them here.

Happiest Cities

While determining which are happiest, WalletHub identified the happiest 182 cities. Obviously, that’s a far cry from how many cities are in the US.

According to one source, there 19,495 cities, towns, and villages across the country (per data from 2018). Of those, 4,727 cities have populations of 5,000 or more. A total of 310 cities have populations of at least 100,000, and only ten are home to one million people or more.

So, living in any of the 182 cities WalletHub suggests one is pretty happy. However, these are the ten happiest cities, in descending order:

  1. Fremont, California
  2. Columbia, Maryland
  3. San Francisco, California
  4. San Jose, California
  5. Irvine, California
  6. Madison, Wisconsin
  7. Seattle, Washington
  8. Overland Park, Kansas
  9. Huntington Beach, California
  10. San Diego, California

As you can see, six of the 10 cities are in California. In fact, 29 of the 182 cities on this list are located in the Golden State.

To create their list, WalletHub analyzed several metrics that make up three main categories: emotional and physical well-being; work environment; and community and environment.

Fremont, CA, is number one for emotional and physical well-being. The top spot for work environment goes to San Francisco, CA. And the number-one city for community and environment is Casper, Wyoming, which is number 79 on the list overall.

Least-happy Cities

Again, understanding that there are more than 19,400 cities, towns, and villages in the US alters the context of this list a bit.

Living and operating in one of these 182 cities indicates a person is living in a happy city. Basically, it isn’t the worst place to live if it’s on this list.

At any rate, let’s look at the 10 cities that make up the bottom of WalletHub’s list. Or, the “least-happy” cities, at least as far as these rankings are concerned.

  1. Detroit, Michigan
  2. Gulfport, Mississippi
  3. Memphis, Tennessee
  4. Huntington, West Virginia
  5. Montgomery, Alabama
  6. Cleveland, Ohio
  7. Augusta, Georgia
  8. Fort Smith, Arizona
  9. Mobile, Alabama
  10. Shreveport, Louisiana

Happiest States

WalletHub also ranked 50 states to determine the happiest and least happy. I checked, and, yep, that’s all of ’em! I will say it’s a bit disappointing they didn’t include Puerto Rico, but it isn’t the 51st state (yet).

WalletHub focused on 30 metrics to rank the states, which make up three main categories: emotional and physical well-being; work environment; and community and environment.

In descending order, the happiest states in America are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Maryland
  3. Minnesota
  4. Utah
  5. New Jersey
  6. Idaho
  7. California
  8. Illinois
  9. Nebraska
  10. Connecticut

Hawaii doesn’t just take the top spot overall, it also claims number one for emotional and physical well-being. Utah takes first for work environment, and community and environment.

Rounding out the “happiest half” of the US are:

  1. Virginia
  2. South Dakota
  3. North Dakota
  4. Massachusetts
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Iowa
  7. Delaware
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. North Carolina
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Washington
  13. New York
  14. Maine
  15. Wyoming

Least-happy States

Conversely, the following are the least-happy states, starting with the unhappiest:

  1. West Virginia
  2. Louisiana
  3. Arkansas
  4. Kentucky
  5. Alabama
  6. Mississippi
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Tennessee
  9. New Mexico
  10. Missouri

Filling out the least-happy half of the country are:

  1. Alaska
  2. Michigan
  3. Ohio
  4. Indiana
  5. Texas
  6. Nevada
  7. Vermont
  8. South Carolina
  9. Kansas
  10. Arizona
  11. Colorado
  12. Montana
  13. Rhode Island
  14. Pennsylvania
  15. Oregon

In terms of the three metrics WalletHub analyzed, West Virginia is ranked last for emotional and physical well-being. Unfortunately, Mississippi is last for work environment. And Texas comes in last for community and environment.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Crucial Role Systems Play

The Crucial Role Systems Play

by David Klemt

Pink neon

Having efficient systems in place does more than just streamline day-to-day restaurant, bar, and hotel operations and increase productivity.

Of course, that’s an excellent reason for operators to ensure they implement multiple systems. Front-of-house, back-of-house, and leadership team members need systems to perform at their best.

Six Sigma, kaizen, the technology stack, checklists, manuals, marketing strategies, the guest journey… Each of those systems and more are key to the long-term success of restaurant, bar, and hotel operations.

In fact, these systems should be developed and ready for implementation before the doors ever open for the first time.

Further, effective systems communicate the expectations for roles and tasks. Onboarding and training systems improve recruitment and retention. Also, they provide the transparency that today’s professionals expect from their employers. On top of that, systems help develop consistency, which keeps guests coming back.

A strong leadership team is effective at implementing and following systems. Overall, a strong team is one that understands, embraces, and adheres to a systematic approach to operations to achieve shared goals.

Simply put, the only way achieve success is to be strategic. One can’t be strategic without the implementation of systems.

But there’s another crucial role that systems play in restaurants, bars, and hotels.

Get Out

This topic is the byproduct of a recent KRG Hospitality client call. While explaining our approach to projects, our team touched on the importance of systems.

However, the topic wasn’t brought up simply to detail what systems the client would need to have in place.

A crucial role systems play in a successful operation is getting an owner away from their four walls. More importantly, allowing them to confidently and comfortably leave their business.

If an owner—be they a sole proprietor or business partner—can’t step away from their restaurant, bar, or hotel without worrying, something is wrong. Either the systems in place are ineffective, they don’t address every element of the business, they aren’t being adhered to, or they don’t exist.

Effective systems allow an owner to take time away from their business without micromanaging staff. Systems should also be in place so the owner or owners don’t feel anxious when they’re not working on the business.

Breathe

Stepping away to pursue a hobby, engage in self care, spend time with family and friends, or just because one wants to take a “lazy day” is necessary.

The strategic implementation of systems makes it possible for someone to take time away from their business. They can take that vacation, pursue that goal that doesn’t relate to their business directly, recharge, etc.

Of course, having systems in place also mean an owner and members of their team can travel. They can comfortably attend industry shows, make a guest appearance at a peer’s bar, or host a pop-up without worrying about the business. Having systems in place also makes it possible to travel to discover new F&B items, learn new techniques, and forge relationships with industry peers.

In other words, systems help owners and operators do something they likely haven’t done in months, if not years: breathe.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canada’s Restaurant Labor by the Numbers

Canada’s Restaurant Labor by the Numbers

by David Klemt

Chef inside commercial kitchen

While there are positive signs for Canada’s foodservice industry, recruiting and retaining labor continues to be a challenge.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a challenge unique to Canada. Operators throughout North America and indeed across the globe are facing labor shortages.

Restaurants Canada addresses this topic in their 2022 Foodservice Facts report. The non-profit research and advocacy group predicts sales will reach pre-pandemic levels by Q4 of this year.

However, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs may have to achieve traffic and revenue growth despite a significant labor deficit.

Please click here to access the 2022 Foodservice Facts report yourself.

Labor Shortage by Category

In their latest report, Restaurants Canada crunches the numbers for three distinct venue categories. These are quick-serve restaurants, full-service restaurants, and bars and nightclubs.

The organization finds that QSRs and FSRs are facing the greatest shortages. In fact, in response to a survey from May of this year, at least half of QSRs and FSRs aren’t operating with fulls staffs.

For QSRs, 52 percent of respondents say they perceive restaurants and bars they’ve visited to be understaffed. A bit over a third (36 percent) think staffing is “about right.” Unhelpfully, 12 percent “don’t know” if restaurants and bars have enough staff.

So, let’s switch gears to FSRs. Precisely half of survey respondends say restaurants and bars don’t have enough staff. Just like their QSR counterparts, 36 percent say that staffing seems to be at the ideal level. Fourteen percent respond that they “don’t know,” which doesn’t tell us much.

Per Canadians who responded to Restaurants Canada’s survey, bars and nightclubs are fairing better…at first. Frustratingly, a staggering 37 percent of respondents “don’t know” if bars or nightclubs have appropriate levels of staffing. Thirty-two percent think they’re understaffed, 31 percent think staffing levels are “about right.”

Industry professionals are probably already putting two and two together here. As long as guests receive the level of service they expect, from greeting to speed of service, to closing out their check, they think things are fine. If they’re made to wait longer than they want, they’ll likely say a restaurant, bar or nightclub doesn’t have enough people on shift.

Labor Shortage by Role

Okay, so the May 2022 Restaurants Canada wasn’t entirely helpful. It still provides interesting insight. That is, we know how guests perceive staffing in at least most instances.

So, let’s get down to hard numbers: shortages in specific roles throughout the industry.

Here, Restaurants Canada provides compelling information, even if it’s not what we want to see. In comparison to 2019, every role is down by thousands of people. In some cases, tens of thousands.

Below you’ll find the deficits by role:

  • Foodservice supervisors: -3,100
  • Chefs: -10,900
  • Bartenders: -17,600
  • Maîtres d’hôtel and hosts/hostesses: -21,100
  • Restaurant and foodservice managers: -22,400
  • Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers, and related support occupations: -43,200
  • Cooks: -44,400
  • F&B servers: -89,500
  • Other: -18,800

Add that up and that’s a shortage of 271,000 people throughout Canada’s foodservice industry. For further context, the industry boasted 1,265,700 workers. In 2021, the industry was down to 994,700.

Unfortunately, from 2020 to 2021, just 4,100 jobs were recovered, according to Restaurants Canada. This situation clearly shows that operators need to change their approach to staffing.

Now, more than ever, operators must focus on effective recruitment, onboarding, and retention. For tips on making improvements, click here. To learn how to implement employee surveys to boost retention and avoid costly turnover, click here.

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Are You Surveying Your Team?

Are You Surveying Your Team?

by David Klemt

Interesting "Information" typography

Successful recruitment is only one element of overcoming the current labor shortage—retention is another crucial element.

In fact, employee turnover can be incredibly costly. According to the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell, employee turnover costs nearly $6,000 per hourly team member.

Now, consider what it costs to hire a single employee. On average, it costs $3,500 to hire that worker in the first place. So, the math is simple: Losing an employee costs an operator more than hiring one.

Unsurprisingly, turnover cost more than doubles—nearly $14,000—for a restaurant manager. In short, employee retention is arguably more important than recruitment and hiring.

Labor Shortage

Per Datassential, 33 percent of 801 survey respondents say the labor shortage is their greatest challenge in 2022. More than 70 percent of those respondents are independent operators.

However, independent, chain, and franchise operators appear to agree on one particular element of the challenge. Across segments, hiring hourly back-of-house employees is the most difficult.

In fact, Datassential’s latest FoodBytes report states that restaurants are coming up short in the kitchen. Two-thirds of restaurants are struggling to fill open hourly cook positions.

So, what’s the solution? Higher starting wages? Bonuses for remaining in role for 90 days? Benefits like health insurance and a 401K?

Each of those does work—for recruitment and hiring. What keeps a new hire from leaving after 90 days with their bonus cash, heading down the road to the next restaurant or bar?

It’s commonly agreed that the first 90 days of a new hire’s employment are the most crucial. Wages and benefits keep them in role for roughly three months. During that time, they’re deciding if their role and the employer’s culture are for them.

Employee Engagement

If you’re an owner, operator, or member of the leadership team, you know the importance of data. In fact, you should be obsessed with data collection and analysis.

Truly, the best way to make decisions that will impact the business is with information. Guesswork just doesn’t cut it. Yes, you should pay close attention to your “gut.” However, you should avoid acting on gut instincts before analysing the relevant data.

Wisely, many operators encourage their guests to complete satisfaction surveys. After all, their feedback is crucial to the success of any business. But what about employee surveys? Your team is equally as important as your guests.

Unhappy team members, unhappy guests. Unhappy guests, reduction in traffic. Team members fleeing your business? Your guests pick up on turnover. Eventually, you won’t have a business.

Now, you can assume your team is happy. You can feel like your leadership team is ensuring employee satisfaction and engagement. Or, you can know.

How do you know? You ask.

Satisfaction Surveys

Call it a satisfaction survey, call it a happiness survey… Either way, you’re asking your team members how happy they are with you and their role.

Operators will likely want to keep these surveys anonymous. Several sources that address employee surveys claim most employees prefer anonymity. Unfortunately, this is due to a fear of retribution from ownership or the leadership team.

Even with a healthy workplace culture, anonymity is probably the best for these surveys. Of course, if you’re implementing a 90-day happiness survey for new hires, anonymity doesn’t make much sense.

As far as company-wide survey frequency, there are several options. Once per year is obviously the bare minimum. Therefore, it’s not very effective. Every six months is better but is checking in on your team’s happiness twice per year enough?

The sweet spot appears to be quarterly surveys. More than that—monthly or bi-monthly—will likely get annoying.

Survey Questions

Below are a few questions to consider for your surveys. You’ll have to decide if you want to use multiple-choice, yes or no, matrix, or open-ended questions, or a mix of each type.

Another consideration is how your team will access the survey. The process needs to be as painless as possible. So, consider pushing a link via your scheduling platform, text, or QR code.

  • How happy are you working here?
  • How happy are you in your current role?
  • Would you recommend us to friends and family as a good place to work?
  • Does the leadership team make you feel valuable?
  • Do you see yourself working here a year from now?
  • Are we helping you succeed in your role?
  • Are we giving you what you need to progress in your career?

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Viral Post Highlights Real Leadership

What a Viral Reddit Post Reveals About Leadership in Hospitality

by David Klemt

Reddit app icon on smartphone

A text exchange between a restaurant manager and delivery driver posted to Reddit went viral last month.

Refreshingly, it didn’t make the rounds on news sites for the wrong reasons. Rather, the text conversation is a succinct example of emotional intelligence, empathy, and leadership.

Those interested in reading the text exchange in its entirety can follow this link. However, I’ll sum it up here.

Posted to the subreddit Kitchen Confidential, the conversation begins with the manager checking in on the driver, asking, “You doing OK?”

The driver says they’re “doing better but” is still dealing with a lot. After the manager asks if they should cover their shift that night, the driver reveals they may need to quit the job.

Instead of blowing up at the driver, trying to talk them out of their decision, or cutting the exchange short, they say, “It’s alright [sic].”

Going further, the manager says, “You’re [sic] happiness is more important.” They add that the business hopes the driver will return to the job when they’re ready.

Shall I Cover You Tonight?

Now, I tend to believe that most members of restaurant, bar, and hotel leadership teams are empathetic. I also lean toward believing that most are competent problem solvers.

However, we’ve all come across people who don’t belong in a leadership role. In some cases, a person’s lack of leadership qualifications doesn’t manifest until they’ve been in the role for some time.

My business partner Doug Radkey and I have had conversations about leaders who don’t seem to lead. At best, they’re examples of what not to do. At worst, they’re chasing away a business owner’s staff and guests.

Most recently, these conversations have centered around managers insisting that staff solve scheduling problems themselves.

Before I proceed, I acknowledge fully that we’re facing an unprecedented labor shortage. That’s no excuse for poor leadership.

What, exactly, is the leadership team doing that they can’t manage the schedule? Further, with today’s modern scheduling platforms, why is filling available roles difficult for leaders? Several scheduling apps make it a painless, automated process.

The manager in this Reddit text exchange doesn’t demand the driver find someone to cover their shift. Instead, they behave like a manager and handle it themselves.

Don’t Ever Discount Yourself

If you’re active on LinkedIn and have a sizeable hospitality-centric network, you’ve likely seen posts about how the industry needs to be more people-focused. Not in terms of guests—that’s obvious.

Rather, the consensus is that we’re not going to solve the labor problem if we don’t treat staff as well as we treat guests. Some of these posts may be a bit saccharine, but they’re not incorrect.

Let’s review the texts from this manager:

  • “You doing OK?”
  • Your “happiness is more important.”
  • “We love having you here.”
  • “You’re an awesome person.”
  • “Don’t ever discount yourself.”

When’s the last time you and other members of the leadership team asked a staff member if they’re okay? And if you’ve asked recently, did you get an honest answer? Did you want an honest answer?

A restaurant or bar team that doesn’t trust leadership isn’t going to bother providing an honest answer to that question—they feel like the leaders don’t care about them.

Looking at the rest of the texts above, do you and your leaders take the time to recognize and thank staff? Even the shyest team member wants recognition for a job well done.

Those in leadership roles need to develop their skills constantly. Contrary to some in those positions, leaders aren’t there simply to lord their authority over others and dish out punishments.

So, before your next team meeting, gather the leaders. Find out if every member of the team is checking on staff, valuing their health and wellness, and tackling the mundane tasks that are inherent to their roles.

The maxim is true: People don’t quit jobs, they quit people. If your leadership team isn’t leading with empathy, you can expect your labor issues to compound. No amount of excuses will turn that around.

This article by KRG Hospitality director of business development David Klemt was first published by Bar Business and can be read in its entirety by following this link.

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Back of House Report: The Labor Challenge

Back of House Report: The Labor Challenge

by David Klemt

Employees wearing black staff T-shirts

A recent report from Back of House reveals opportunities for operators amidst the current staffing challenge.

In their report, the restaurant technology platform suggests effective hiring and retention solutions. For example, helping staff find meaning in their work.

To download and access the report in its entirety, please visit BackOfHouse.io.

For some of the platform’s insights into staffing, keep reading.

Why People Leave the Industry

Obviously, people take jobs for a variety of reasons. Often, a person’s first job has one or two motivations: money and/or experience.

Some estimates put a gig in the restaurant industry as the first job for a third of Americans. In Canada, restaurants are the top employers for those under 25 years of age.

However, Back of House sees value in looking at a different metric: Why people leave the industry.

As Back of House states, knowing why someone would leave their job helps an operator determine what benefits to offer to retain talent.

Now, it may be tempting to assume pay is the top reason people leave jobs. Per Back of House, however that’s not the case. Broken down by age group, below you’ll find the reasons people are leaving hospitality:

  • Pay: 26 to 35
  • Schedule: 46 to 55
  • Lack of opportunities: 26 to 35
  • Lack of benefits: 26 to 35
  • Work environment: 18 to 25

Look at these issues through the lens of someone moving through life. When first entering the workforce, more people want to find the right employer and workplace. From their twenties to thirties, more concern is placed on moving up, making more money, and receiving benefits. And, per Back of House’s findings, time becomes more of a consideration as people age.

Meaning and Value

Per Back of House, there are two important elements of employment that keep people engaged.

One, meaning in the work they do. In other words, feeling that their work has value. Two, staff want to feel that they’re employers value them.

Of course, both make sense, no? If a person doesn’t see their role in the industry as valuable, they’ll always be looking for the escape hatch. And if they feel that they’re employer doesn’t value them, why would they continue working for them? People, as they say, quit bosses, not jobs.

So, Back of House recommends that operators demonstrate they value their team members by:

  • investing in their staff;
  • supporting their staff; and
  • respecting their staff.

Now, good leaders should already do all of the above. It should go without saying but if someone feels a lack of respect, support, and interest from their employer, they’re not going to remain in their role for long.

And who could blame them? That seems like a terrible workplace and a waste of a hospitality professional’s valuable time. Time, of course, that can be better spent finding a good leader to work for who will help them progress in their career.

There are further insights one can glean from Back of House’s report. To download “Understanding the Staffing Challenge,” please click here.

Disclaimer: Neither KRG Hospitality nor its representatives received compensation to promote this report. The team at KRG simply feels all operators will find value in downloading and reading it, and considering the information contained therein.

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Hiring Struggles? Engage These Age Groups

Hiring Struggles? Engage These Age Groups

by David Klemt

Chef plating greens on plates

Staff turnover rates are still above pre-pandemic levels and there’s no silver bullet solution. However, two companies have some helpful advice.

Both Service Management Group and Technomic shared their tips during Restaurant Leadership Conference. Interestingly, each company has a different approach to the current hospitality industry labor problem.

In short, both SMG and Technomic advise operators to engage with vastly different age groups. However, they each have information that supports their recommendations.

Service Management Group

Jennifer Grimes, senior vice president of client services for Service Management Group, co-presented a session with Jim Thompson, COO of Chicken Salad Chick.

SMG is a software-with-a-service platform that seeks to the employee, customer, and brand experience. One crucial element of the company’s mission is the reduction of staff turnover.

During the RLC session, Grimes shared several years of hospitality turnover rates:

  • 2017: 72%
  • 2018: 75%
  • 2019: 79%
  • 2020: 130%
  • 2021: 86%

First, some context. The general consensus is that the industry’s average turnover rate has been between 70 and 80 percent for close to a decade. However, in comparison to other industries—10 to 15 percent—that’s stratospherically high.

Secondly, the turnover rate has been on rise since before the pandemic. Per some sources, the rate jumped from 66 percent in 2014 to 72 percent in 2015, a trend that continues to this day.

For SMG, the age group operators should seek to engage—generally speaking, of course—is 25 to 34 years old. Per the SWaS platform, this group was the most engaged pre-pandemic.

One reason for SMG’s suggestion is that Boomers appear to opting out of the workforce.

During the presentation by Grimes and Thompson, the latter shared that Chicken Salad Chick predicts the 2022 turnover rate to be just slightly above the 2019 rate.

Technomic

Unsurprisingly, Technomic had some numbers to share during RLC 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Per data provided by Joe Pawlak and Richard Shank, 70 percent of operators are still struggling with labor. Recruiting, hiring, and retaining staff doesn’t appear to be getting any easier four months into 2022.

Technomic also pointed out that the US saw the lowest population growth in its history last year: 0.1 percent.

Additionally, almost 17 percent of the country’s population is now at least 65 years old. In 2019, 48 percent of people 55 or older retired. That number is now just over 50 percent for the same age group.

Nearly seven million American consumers turn 60 each year, while four million turn 70 or older.

Logically, one may assume that Technomic is saying a significant portion of the US population is leaving the workforce. So, it’s best to focus on the same age group as SMG recommends.

However, Technomic is recommending a different strategy. Per Pawlak and Shank, retirees (mostly ages 55 and up) tend to have valuable managerial skills and experience.

Obviously, those skills and all that experience can be of great benefit to operators and our industry.

Certainly, all groups should be engaged by operators seeking to recruit, hire, and develop their teams. So, as KRG Hospitality sees recruitment, operators should craft targeted, authentic messaging that appeals to each age group.

Image: Sebastian Coman Photography from Pexels

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Chain Restaurants: Present & Future

Chain Restaurants: Present & Future

Woman dining with friends in restaurant

Technomic presented the state of chain restaurants, now and next, during Restaurant Leadership Conference 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Obviously, the entire hospitality industry is facing significant struggles. Rising costs, supply chain chaos, labor shortages and challenges, inflation… The past two-years-plus haven’t been easy.

However, there’s reason for operators and their leadership teams and staff to be optimistic. Additionally, independent and small-chain operators can learn from Technomic’s findings.

Challenges & Threats

Well, let’s take our medicine first, starting with the supply chain. In short, it’s bedlam.

Joe Pawlak (standing in for David Henkes) and Richard Shank of Technomic said as much during RLC 2022. Per their data, 35 percent of operators dropped at least one manufacturer between 2020 and 2021.

Whether because of rising costs, an inability to consistently deliver product, or other factors, operators had to adapt. Clearly, there’s a nasty trickle-down effect when an operator drops a supplier.

And then there’s inflation. Interestingly, Shank calls what we’re seeing currently as “existential inflation.” Relating to consumers, this means their confidence is shaken in terms of spending.

Of course, this type of consumer perception manifests in several ways. For example, some guests cut down on visits. Others will cut down on ordering, skipping appetizers and desserts. Perhaps they have one less beer, glass of wine, or cocktail.

Also, some guests “trade down.” Meaning, there are consumers who opt for casual restaurants rather than fine dining. Or, they’ll move from fast-casual to QSR.

Looking at the numbers, however, nearly 40 percent respondents to a Technomic survey say they’re visiting restaurants less. This makes sense, as 81 percent are concerned about how inflation will impact them personally.

On the operator side of inflation comes pricing. During Pawlak and Shank’s presentation, they used QSR dinner pricing as a real-world example.

According to Technomic, the tipping point for guest perception of good value is just $7. At only $10, consumers feel things are getting expensive.

As Pawlak and Shank pointed out, this is a problem. After all, the average price for dinner at a QSR is $10.08. That number may already be higher today.

Opportunities

Medicine taken, we can move to the good news.

First, Technomic predicts a strong Q3 this year. Additionally, they don’t expect double-digit year-over-year inflation.

In terms of labor, Technomic doesn’t expect costs to go down. However, they do anticipate that they’ll level off rather than rise.

Then there are the numbers. For the top 500 chains in the US in particular, 2021 was a “banner year,” according to Pawlak. On an aggregate basis, sales for the top 500 (McDonald’s is number one, for those wondering) are up 17.9 percent.

Also, every category of restaurant is performing better. The top 500 chains, for instance, are up 18 percent year-over-year. Midscale restaurants are up 38.5 percent. Casual is up 30.2 percent while fast is up 22.2 percent, QSRs are up 13.2 percent. As far as the biggest bump, fine dining is up 56.9 percent.

Looking at 2019 for obvious reasons, the industry was down 49.1 percent in sales in April 2020. However, the industry was down just about a single percentage point in February of this year compared to the same time in 2019.

So, how do we keep sales trending upward when facing inflation and other threats? Pawlak, Shank, and Technomic have some advice.

Operators, for instance, can implement the “balanced barbell” pricing strategy. In this model, high-value items drive business alongside premium offerings. In other words, don’t discount the entire menu just to entice guests to keep visiting.

Once guests get a taste for falling prices, they’ll consider the lower prices the standard. After that, any increase can be perceived as “too expensive.” Of course, discounting the whole menu also impacts guest perception of the brand negatively.

In addition, Technomic suggests offering higher net profit discount bundles, and implementing off-premise, large-party strategies.

Should Technomic’s predictions prove true, the industry may see an even stronger Q4 and start to 2023.

Image: Alex Haney on Unsplash

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