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HomeUncategorizedRestaurant IndustryThe Tight Labor Market is Causing Some Restaurant Managers to Make Poor Short-term Decisions

The Tight Labor Market is Causing Some Restaurant Managers to Make Poor Short-term Decisions

This is one of the most robust labor markets in the last 50 years. Typically low unemployment in the overall economy is bad for the restaurant industry because of our lower base pay and how demanding restaurant jobs are. Restaurant turnover is at 100%.

Look at these restaurant labor stats from the 7 Shifts Blog

I’ve been a manager who was constantly hiring and training, for months on end. We had very high FOH turnover and we were constantly interviewing, hiring, training, every week. It’ was exhausting. Plus it takes so much time that you aren’t able to get anything else done. All those little projects that you want to get done just get pushed aside when people don’t show up to work.

This labor market has been tight for the last couple of years and managers are starting to get worn down. They are so tired of being in this labor rat race that they are doing anything they can to keep employees happy even when their actions could be hurting the long-term viability of their restaurants.

We were recently working with a client of ours that has been on and off our checklist platform a couple of times over the last couple of years. He can’t get his people to use the platform and while we were talking with him he said. “These guys are so busy, I just don’t want to put any extra work on their plates.”

I want to break down that comment and thinking for you because it is super interesting.

  1. This was from an area director responsible for running 9 burger franchise restaurants from a national chain.
  2. By their franchise agreement they, the franchisees, are responsible for executing the chains national food safety and quality standards every day every shift. This isn’t extra Work!
  3. We load a restaurant’s paper checklists exactly as they are on paper into our platform, there is no difference other than using a mobile device vs. a pen.
  4. People view doing checklists on our platform as extra work but don’t view completing those same checklists on paper as extra work. That is because they know that their teams are pencil whipping and not doing their checklists on paper! Because of the limitations of paper they have plausible deniability, meaning they can’t be held responsible for not knowing that checklists didn’t get completed.
  5. The reason his people don’t get their stuff done is because he doesn’t hold them accountable to doing it, he views food safety checklists and ops checklists as extra work not as what they are, job aids that help managers execute safely and effectively.
  6. He doesn’t hold them accountable to using the platform because he realizes that the OpsAnalitica is very good at showing you if people are doing their checklists and that it is very good at ensuring things get done.
  7. Instead he lets them do whatever they want and pretends they are doing what they are supposed to be doing until they get caught by the chains 3rd party inspectors.

Why doesn’t he want his team to do what they are supposed to be doing to run their restaurants the way they were designed to be run. It’s because of turnover. When a manager leaves, this area manager has to replace them. It becomes more work for him and goes back to everything that I opened this blog with. It’s exhausting.

He thinks that if he is easier on these managers that they might stay longer, which there is no proof of, and he makes that trade off at the expense of his customers satisfaction, safety, and sales.

When was the last time you went to super well run and profitable restaurant and heard about them cutting corners on their procedures or not holding their teams accountable to being the best? You haven’t. Because great operators know that systems are what drives repeatable success and they hold their teams accountable to being great.

When you don’t hold people accountable to running your systems your restaurants don’t run as well. Things get missed that directly impact customer experiences and over time it is that degradation of the customer experience that drives customers away from coming to your business.

I understand that this labor market is super tough but we as an industry have to get creative about screening, recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees. What changes has your organizations made to address these issues? Are you offering more money, retention and performance bonuses, golden handcuffs like options or other perks?

I fear that restaurants are in this very expensive endless recruiting and hiring cycle that has the secondary effect of making restaurant operations less consistent. I don’t see the industry as a whole doing anything differently then they were in 1984 when I joined the industry.

Cutting your standards to keep employees is a recipe for going out of business.

Please add a comment about any really cool things your company is doing in regards to hiring or retention or that you have heard about so I can update our readers.

If you would like to learn more about how the OpsAnalitica Platform can help you drive consistently safe and excellent operations across your restaurants and how it can be used to push behavior change in real-time, please check us out at OpsAnalitica.com

Written by

I've been in the restaurant industry for most of my adult life. I have a BSBA from University of Denver Hotel Restaurant school and an MBA from the same. When I wasn't working in restaurants I was either doing stand-up comedy, for 10 years, or large enterprise software consulting. I'm currently the Managing Director of OpsAnalitica and our Inspector platform was originally conceived when I worked for one of the largest sandwich franchisors in the country. You can reach out to me through LinkedIn.

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