Retention

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.

Image: Erik Mclean on Unsplash

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.

Image: chaitanya pillala on Unsplash

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.

Image: Brian Tromp on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

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?

Image: Roman Kraft on Unsplash

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.

Image: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

by David Klemt

Server helping guest in restaurant

There’s an easy way to identify whether there are changes that need to be made to processes and practices that only requires observation and time.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much time, either. In less than a week, an operator can determine if there are issues relating to onboarding new hires.

This simple test was shared during the 2022 Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale.

Interviews are Just the Start

It should go without saying but here we go: The hiring process doesn’t end with the interview.

An operator or their leadership team found an amazing job candidate? Awesome! That’s no small feat these days.

However, that’s just the first step in hiring and building a rock star restaurant, bar or hotel team.

Step two is onboarding, step three is training, and step four is advancement.

For KRG Hospitality, onboarding goes far beyond filling out federal and state paperwork. There’s more to it than setting up direct deposit and getting a new hire on the schedule.

Rather, operators need to implement a fully developed onboarding process. The key word there is “process.”

True onboarding includes the review of an employee handbook and an introduction to the business. During this process new hires should become familiar with the brand’s history, vision, culture, mission, and core values.

By the end of this process, a new team member should understand what’s expected of them, both in their individual role and behaviorally. Additionally, they should be introduced to the entire team.

In reality, the onboarding process is the development of a professional relationship.

The Test

Technically, the actual test for operators is for them to have in-depth hiring, onboarding and training processes in place.

So, operators should take a moment to review whether they have those processes.

However, the test I’m talking about here relates to onboarding directly. It’s simple and it was shared during RLC 2022 by Jim Thompson, COO of Chicken Salad Chick.

The only requirement is a few days’ time and an observant operator and/or leadership team.

Let’s say a candidate nails the interview. In particular, their personality is perfect for the available role. As the the hospitality industry maxim goes, hire for personality, train for skills.

The new hire works their first shift but their personality doesn’t shine through. However, that could be first-day jitters. Unfortunately, that personality the leadership team hired for is nowhere to be seen during their next few shifts.

According to Thompson, if a new hire’s personality doesn’t shine through within four shifts, there’s likely a process and practices issue. The lack of personality is an indicator that the new team member doesn’t feel confident in their role.

The onboarding process—either too shallow or nonexistent—is a likely culprit. Operators can use this test, a simple four-shift observation of a new hire, to determine if there’s a problem.

Once identified, the operator and their leaders can put their heads together, review the issue, and implement effective, positive change.

Image: Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Uber Effect: Recruit and Retain

The Uber Effect: Recruit and Retain

by David Klemt

Person using Uber app on phone

To better understand how to recruit and retain top talent these days we can simply look at what’s known as the Uber Effect.

We just got back from the Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The education was top-notch, featuring a wide range of restaurant industry experts.

One outstanding session illustrates the need for operators—chain and independent—to change their approach to recruiting and retaining staff.

Flexibility in the Workplace

According to Jennifer Grimes, senior vice president of client services for Service Management Group, people in the labor pool are after three things when seeking employment.

Generally speaking, they want better pay, better benefits, and better scheduling. Gone are the days of people focusing only on their paychecks.

And per Jim Thompson, chief operating officer of Chicken Salad Chick, the Uber Effect is largely responsible for this shift in focus. The Uber Effect refers to people realizing they can be much more in control of their careers.

In simplest terms, Uber drivers are in control of their workdays. They can work as often as they want, whatever hours they want, and wear what they want while working.

Of course, it’s not complete anarchy. There are rules, there are expectations, there are standards. However, there’s also flexibility.

Along with more flexibility in scheduling, people want the following:

  • workload balance;
  • ability to trade shifts;
  • better communication; and
  • paid vacations.

Today’s modern scheduling platforms make it simple for operators and their leadership teams to meet these expectations. With these apps, operators and leadership can:

  • assign specific roles to individual team members;
  • communicate clearly with staff;
  • allow staff to trade, drop, and pick up shifts; and
  • fill available shifts.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Thompson has an interesting anecdote about availability.

A Chicken Salad Chick manager conducting interviews didn’t proceed with a candidate. Asked by Thompson why they wouldn’t be moving forward, the manager pointed to the candidate’s availability.

During the interview, the candidate provided only a single day and the manager felt that wasn’t enough. However, Thompson disagreed with the manager’s assessment.

What if, Thompson posited Thompson, their availability filled a currently open shift? At least there would be one less shift for leadership to worry about.

But it went deeper than just that point. Good operators and leaders know that job interviews aren’t one-way streets. Candidates are also interviewing their potential employer.

What if this candidate provided limited availability because they’re unsure about a particular employer? They may not know the brand all that well, they likely don’t know the leadership team, and they don’t yet understand the workplace’s culture.

As Thompson says, “One size fits all is over.” Operators and their leadership teams need to be flexible.

It’s highly possible that just a few shifts in, if the narrow-availability team member is a good fit and finds the job engaging, they’ll broaden they’re availability.

Developing the Culture

Of course, the above scenario comes down to culture. And Thompson has an interesting thought on that operational element.

If an operator isn’t constantly developing their culture, it will grow stagnant. Maintaining the current culture isn’t good enough.

Failing to do so will ultimately lead to a decline in guest satisfaction. When that happens, a decline in traffic comes along with it.

It’s really rather simple: How an operator and the leadership team treats employees trickles down to guests. Unhappy and unsatisfied staff provide poor service. How long are guests going to tolerate negative guest experiences?

And no, simply offering competitive compensation doesn’t automatically equate to treating staff well.

“Competitive pay, to me, is the cost of entry,” says Thompson.

To this point, the COO, also the self-appointed chief smile officer, addresses how the restaurant chain respects personal time.

Chicken Salad Chick, founded in 2008, is closed on Sundays. This isn’t due to any religious influence. Rather, the founders, per Thompson, were influenced by what they perceived as a high divorce rate in the restaurant space.

So, the brand wants employees to have family time. That’s also why there stores are also closed by 8:00 PM. In some cases, they close at 5:00 or 7:00 PM. Again, personal and family time.

Could they generate more revenue if they opened earlier and closed later? Probably. However, their culture is crucial to their success.

Takeaway

If operators want to begin the process of truly developing a positive workplace culture, there are several questions Thompson suggests operators and their leaders should ask.

Is the brand purpose driven? Does focus on fun, family, and culture?

How can the business offer incremental value to staff? Are the pay and benefits competitive? Is the workplace safe and are their opportunities for staff to advance?

What’s the community like within the four walls? How’s the energy within those walls?

Are the processes and practices in place helping or hindering recruitment and retention? How can the processes be simplified so employees learn what they need to know quickly?

How flexible is the business, honestly? What’s being done to truly help leadership create better relationships with the team?

Finally, I’ll end on something interesting from Grimes. Analyzing employee engagement, SMG has found that isn’t just about compensation.

In fact, when it comes to what makes most people perceive their job as fulfilling, the top influencer is working with people they like. Second is salary and benefits. Third, rewarding work.

Operators need to adapt to employee expectations, just as they need to focus on those of guests. Sitting down with their leadership teams to discuss Thompson’s questions is a great first step toward developing a culture that works and rewards.

Image: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leadership Facepalm: Don’t Do This

Leadership Facepalm: Don’t Do This

by David Klemt

Close-up shot of person texting on phone in a restaurant

Here’s a hot take on the employer-employee dynamic: Don’t text staff at 3:00 in the morning demanding they come in on their day off.

In fact, let’s compress this piece of advice. Don’t text staff at 3:00 in the morning.

Really, I shouldn’t have to explain the myriad reasons that doing so isn’t acceptable. However, a post on Reddit shows that this topic needs addressing.

Are You Serious?

Yes, I’m using a Reddit post as an example of what not to do. And yes, I’m going to assume the post is legitimate for the purposes of education.

Owners, operators, and members of leadership teams need to lead. Micromanaging, assuming staff is at their beck and call, and domineering behavior only lead to high turnover.

A high staff churn rate is costly, and not just financially. Yes, it costs thousands of dollars to replace a single member of staff. However, immediate financial costs shouldn’t be the only concern.

Churning through staff also damages a restaurant, bar, hotel, or owner’s reputation. Should they become known as a bad employer—word gets around quickly in this industry—and eventually an operator won’t be able to hire rock star talent.

Over time, they’ll only draw in workers that chase away their guests. After that, the operator will be closing the doors.

“You Need to Be a Team Player”

Interestingly, the Reddit post that’s inspiring this article isn’t brand new. The post in question is about six months old.

But these days, with the shift in the employee-employer dynamic that’s taking place, stories of “epic” or “savage” quitting garner attention.

Again, there are myriad reasons people are drawn to these stories. Rather than read through those, let’s take a look at this quitting story.

A bartender took to Reddit (again, I’m assuming this is a fact) to share texts from his (former) manager. The timestamp on the first text? 2:59 in the morning.

“I need you to come in from 11a-10p today,” starts the text. The reason? Only one bartender is on the schedule for an event that day.

In response, the bartender says, “No thank you,” stating it’s their day off. And then the manager makes a demand using a term that gets thrown around far too much when some people in a position of authority don’t get the response they want (in my opinion).

The bartender is told they need to be a “team player,” and that “it isn’t all about you.” On a positive note, the manager does then say “please” and asks the bartender to come in.

Putting their cards on the table, the bartender says they’ve had a few drinks and don’t want to work an eleven-hour shift with a hangover. Personally, I don’t think the manager was due that explanation but okay.

This doesn’t sit well with the manager, who now attempts to police the bartender’s personal time. According to the texts, the bartender needs “to stay ready for work.” This is apparently because “getting too drunk is not a good look if you can’t stay prepared.”

“Fed Up with You”

After a few more texts back and forth, the manager fast-tracks this situation’s escalation. The bartender is told that they’re going to talk about the bartender’s “attitude” when they “come in Sunday.”

Well, it’s highly unlikely that conversation ever took place. According to screengrabs of the texts, the bartender replies, “No we’re not.” They then proceed to remind the manager that “dozens” of places are hiring bartenders. They’re happy to go work for one of those businesses.

Unsurprisingly, the manager attempts to backpedal. They say that the bartender is making a rash decision “because you’re drunk” and will regret it the next day. That approach doesn’t work.

Now, there’s one sentence that suggests to me, if this situation is real, that the owner needs to address this manager. Or, if this manager is the owner of the business, that they need to work on developing leadership skills.

That line? “I’m fed up with you.”

Sure, they could mean they’re fed up with them in this instance. However, the line follows the bartender saying that their are several other places they can find work instead.

My interpretation is that at a minimum, these two have a problem with one another. Worst case, this manager isn’t doing the owner (or themselves) any favors with their “leadership” style.

Just…Don’t Do This

Please, please, please, don’t text or call staff at 3:00 in the morning. There are perhaps a tiny handful of reasons to ignore this advice. As I see it, those reasons all involve emergencies.

And no, being short-staffed for an event the following morning is not an emergency worthy of texting or calling an employee to cover a shift so late at night/early in the morning.

There are several leadership and scheduling solutions that can prevent this type of situation. In this particular instance, since the bartender was “fed up with” this manager, they were going to quit sooner or later.

Which brings me to my first point: Operators need to know what their leaders are doing. How are they treating staff? How does the staff perceive the leadership teams?

Secondly, how do the operator and other leaders perceive one another? Is everything running smoothly or is one “leader” not really leading?

And finally, scheduling technology. These days, there’s really no excuse for many kinds of scheduling problems. Several scheduling apps integrate well with popular restaurant, bar, and hotel POS systems.

For example, HotSchedules gives staff the ability to give away, swap, and pick up shifts. Another example is OpenSimSim, which provides an open shift invite feature. Staff can also set their profiles to auto-accept shifts as they become available.

7shifts and Schedulefly can also help fill shifts. And like HotSchedules and OpenSimSim, leaders can message groups and individuals, and vice versa.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is this: The maxim, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers,” is accurate. Leaders need to respect their team members and their personal time.

Image: Alex Ware on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

ThinkFoodGroup Partners with SevenRooms

ThinkFoodGroup Partners with SevenRooms

by David Klemt

Front of house staff member using SevenRooms

Reservation and guest engagement and retention platform SevenRooms and ThinkFoodGroup announce their new partnership today.

This announcement marks at least the third high-profile partnership involving SevenRooms.

One partnership from earlier this year is with online ordering platform Olo. Another is between SevenRooms and TheFork.

As is normally the case when it comes to SevenRooms partnerships, the relationship will be collaborative.

ThinkFoodGroup be onboarding the restaurants in their portfolio onto the platform. This maneuver will deliver several benefits through the full SevenRooms suite:

  • Reservation, waitlist and table management
  • Marketing automation
  • Online ordering capability
  • Rating aggregation

Additionally, ThinkFoodGroup will be joining SevenRooms in an advisory role. The platform will benefit from the expertise of Chef José Andrés and the ThinkFoodGroup team.

In short, ThinkFoodGroup will gain valuable insight into their guests throughout their entire portfolio. SevenRooms will gain valuable insights they can use to improve their platform and better serve the hospitality industry.

Interestingly, ThinkFoodGroup appears to have been using SevenRooms prior to this newly announced partnership. The platform is already in use at:

  • The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS South Beach
  • Bazaar Meat by José Andrés at The Sahara Las Vegas
  • China Chilcano in Washington, D.C.
  • China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
  • é by José Andrés at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
  • Jaleo at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

From Joel Montaniel, CEO and founder of SevenRooms:

“With the hospitality industry returning to full-speed, it’s more important than ever for operators to prioritize technology platforms that are hyper-focused on helping restaurants thrive. We’re thrilled to welcome the ThinkFoodGroup team to our SevenRooms family, helping them build upon their incredible guest experiences across their properties. Most importantly, we look forward to learning from José and his team’s incredible expertise and unique perspective. Supporting and advocating for the hospitality industry has always been at the core of our business. There is so much work for us to do as the industry recovers, and we look forward to walking in lockstep with José and his team to build back better.”

From Chef José Andrés, CEO, co-founder and executive chairman of ThinkFoodGroup:

“Providing outstanding experiences for our guests has always been a priority. In light of the challenges brought on by COVID, we realized just how important it was to have a partner who can help us bring them to life in a seamless way. I am excited to bring SevenRooms into our restaurants globally, and for ThinkFoodGroup to also join the company as an industry advisor.”

From Sam Bakhshandehpour, President of ThinkFoodGroup:

“Pushing the limits of what’s expected in hospitality is at the core of our business. SevenRooms is completely transforming the restaurant technology platform, and we’re thrilled to partner with a like-minded company who thinks progressively and has the cutting-edge technology to challenge the status quo. Together, we will collaborate on building solutions that put operators’ success at the forefront.”

This year’s SevenRooms partnerships, announcement of a new CFO, and innovations (such as their Direct Delivery module), show the platform’s commitment to improvement and supporting the industry.

When operators are selecting the platforms to include in their tech stacks, ease of use and integration, along with growth, should be among their considerations. So, too, should be industry advocacy.

SevenRooms continues to prove that they deserve top marks for each of those crucial elements.

Image: SevenRooms

Quotes provided by SevenRooms via press release

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