“I hear that comment all across the country every single day,” said David Scott Peters, founder of consulting group The Restaurant Expert, based in Phoenix. “People keep saying, ‘In my marketplace, it’s impossible to find anyone.’ But I hear this everywhere.”
With minimum wages rising, it puts even more pressure on the labor line. Aside from completely changing the business model, there are things you can do to ease that labor pressure, said Peters.
— Make sure you’re an employer of choice. “There are lots of job opportunities out there and money is part of it,” said Peters. “But it’s about having great systems in place.”
When everyone comes to work and knows what they’re doing, they enjoy their job. When they don’t know what they’re doing, they get yelled at and there’s turnover, and you get a reputation of being a place you don’t want to work.
— Hire the right people. Websites like Clearfit.com screen applicants by personality traits. A growing number of industry-specific job sites also help connect employers with the right workers.
— Train people well. “When do new hires do the most damage? The bad Yelp reviews usually come when an employee just got trained and there’s no longer someone looking over his shoulder,” he said. The better trained they are, the longer they’ll stay and the more money they’ll make for the business.
“Some restaurants have no problem with employees and those are places that are great work environments that have great training,” he said.
— Rethink your menu. “I can tell you right now there are not enough labor controls you can put in place to attack a $15 minimum wage,” he said. “You have to attack your menu.”
Raising prices might be part of it, but so should reducing the number of items to improve consistency. Look for ways to cross utilize ingredients.