Labor Market

A tough labor market is an element that is very difficult to deal with. What I mean by tough is very few qualified candidates looking for work in the food and beverage field. In many cases, a tough labor market has always been regional. Some area’s of the country don’t have issue’s with hiring good staff, and other parts of the country would a harder time. That is still is true to an extent. But the desire for many, even better labor markets, is dwindling. That desire to enter the food and beverage business isn’t as great as it used to be.

The problem being is your staff is the first people to meet and greet your guests. Now that could be a problem if you have went out to a bar or restaurant and have had bad service. And many of us have. You are only as good as your staff. Remember that. But you can’t clone yourself to do all the work and perform all the functions. Which is unfortunate!

The quality of the food and drink you are selling, the way your guests are met at the door, and service there after is crucial. Through the years, I have had some of the best staff anywhere, bar none! And I was never so proud of them, and my customers were always ranting and raving about my staff. What a difference in how much easier it is to manage your own place when there are staff members you can actually depend on.

But what a difference in many places today. A few years ago I predicted that as the years go by, it would become more difficult to operate a place simply because you wouldn’t have competent staff to do so. I was right. Many people, especially the ones young and starting off in life always went to a bar or restaurant to become a bartender, server, dishwasher, etc. Not so much these days. Many are lazy, and of course don’t want to work weekends, or holidays, or nights, or as a matter of fact don’t have a good work ethic at all.

Where does a good work ethic come from? Generally from parents. I think that as years have come and gone, many parents spoil their children more then yesteryear. Also there are more options today, especially in the computer fields. Many jobs are available to people that are 9-5 doing data entry, and computer related jobs. Let’s face it, the food and beverage business is hard work. Not too many want to work that hard anymore. Nor do they take pride in themselves or the work they perform.

So now what? Good question. Franchises go through a lot of training for their staff. And it costs them a lot of money. And it’s on going. The ones that are hired don’t usually last long and they are back to square one with training all over again for the new staff member.

There really is no other answer. The ones that are good and that do work out well, come to work on time, don’t call off, and have pride in themselves and the work they perform, you better pay! And I don’t mean and extra thirty five cents an hour. Because if you don’t, you will lose them also. You need to appreciate the ones that do a good job.

Many owners are forced to put on extra management to consistently keep an eye on all departments. Is that good for labor costs? Hell no! But you need to do what it takes if you are going to get into this business. That’s why you see costs rise everywhere. You have to pass the payroll costs off to the consumer.

What happens now? Good question. I just read an article in a restaurant magazine 12-07 that this subject was addressed and the writers concern of obtaining staff. I called it long ago, but it was still finally addressed in a national publication.

You can have all the money in the world to build your place, which was always the hard part. But without the staff, you won’t be able to serve your customers well.

When you find good staff, make sure you give then an attaboy, a slap on the back, a job well done, and PAY THEM WELL! You are going to need them, I promise you!
The labor market, and its affects, is all part of management.

Managing your labor is as important as any other duties and obligations you have as a manager. Look for, and create the great staff you need. You are only as good as your staff. Remember that!

Good Luck,


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