It’s not just you. As consumers gain more confidence coming back to restaurants, many business owners are looking to hire more staff—and finding it really difficult.
There’s a lot of reasons restaurants are struggling to hire right now, but from a business owner’s perspective, the crucial question is not why but how to cope.
If you’re having trouble filling open positions, the first and simplest way to attract more applicants is to raise wages. Many restaurants, including national chains, local restaurants with multiple locations, and small, single-location operations, have had success getting more applicants by offering at least a $15 hourly wage. It’s simple economics: when there are more job openings than there are job seekers, workers can demand higher wages.
If you’re understaffed now, and raising wages allows you to hire more workers, staffing up could improve your customer experience. You might see a payoff over the long term in better reviews, more repeat customers, and other benefits that could ultimately improve your revenue. You’ll also likely see lower turnover and higher employee engagement, which can reduce costs and boost your bottom line.
If you decide you do need to increase wages, start with your most understaffed areas first. Many restaurants are finding that their BOH (Back-of-House) teams are super-stressed, and it’s harder to hire for these positions, because there’s so much delivery right now. Whatever your situation is, raise wages in your most-needed areas first, and keep reevaluating to see how the raises are impacting your bottom line.
Raising wages is tough for most restaurants. Profit margins in the business are thin to begin with. But there are ways to reduce or offset the costs of higher wages. For one thing, you could consider raising prices. Other restaurants, including big chains like Chipotle, are already doing this, which will hopefully help customers adjust.
You could also take a closer look at your schedule and identify shifts where you can cut staffing. If you’ve been doing more with less over the past year, you likely have a sense of where you can and can’t cut corners. Your goal is to maintain a great customer experience while running as lean an operation as possible.
Technology can also help you streamline your operations. Apps within the Clover system can help you keep track of customer preferences to improve customer loyalty; manage your inventory more efficiently; identify low-performing menu items; and automatically sync sales with your accounting system to save you and your managers’ time.
Technology can revamp your recruitment process, too. Make sure you’re spreading the word about your open jobs through multiple channels, including social media, job boards, professional networking sites, and more. You can also consider offering referral bonuses for your existing employees who bring in new applicants and signing bonuses for new hires. You could even offer free meals to customers who refer a new applicant to an open position.
If you’re understaffed, retention is crucial — especially if you can’t raise wages. Instead, consider offering other worker-friendly policies like flexible schedules, paid sick time, and so on. You could also take a second look at your tipping policies to see if they could be more worker-friendly.
Many workers are hesitant to return to restaurant work because of health concerns. Make sure you’re protecting your staff. It’s stressful to enforce mask requirements and other new health policies—make sure you and your managers are there to back up your front-line staff if any disputes arise. Consider giving your staff paid time off to get vaccinated, if they aren’t already.
Ultimately, making your workers feel valued is key, especially after a very tough year for the industry. Whether or not you can afford to raise wages, offering more job skills training could help create the sense that you have your employees’ backs and they are embarked on a career, not just a job.
To learn how Clover POS solutions can help with employee management, connect with a Business Consultant today.
This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Readers should contact their attorneys, financial advisors, or tax professionals to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.
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