I am forever and ever reading articles about how restaurateurs battle the rising costs of food, and the devastating impact even miniscule increases have on their already razor thin margins. Today, I think I learned a little more about why managing food costs is so challenging – the problem of food waste. According to a story I heard on National Public Radio, food waste is the #1 material that ends up in landfills – and restaurants contribute 15% of that total. Another interesting stat was quoted from Jonathan Bloom’s American Wasteland that said about a half a pound of food waste is generated per meal served. Who knew!
Entries in labor management (8)
You may not know this, but HotSchedules customers are mostly restaurants. Sure, we also provide service to valet services, healthcare clinics, hotels, golf courses and more, but restaurants gave us our start and what we know the best. Our co-founders hatched the idea of HotSchedules while working together as manager and bartender at P.F. Changs, so it stands to reason that restaurants are in our wheelhouse. Since then, the bulk of our employees also have restaurant experience. We figure, it helps to provide service to restaurants when you really know what it's like to own, run, manage or work in one. Some of us, though, myself included, grew up in another industry, and missed out on all the restaurant industry hoopla. For us, we can only guess what it's like to work in a restaurant based on our own guest experiences. That was, until yesterday... Our awesome customer, Maudie's at the Hill Country Galleria just outside of Austin, TX agreed to let 5 non-restaurant HotSchedules employees come in for a full day of hands-on training to give us a taste (pun intended) of what restaurant life is like.
Today marks the close of our 3rd annual video contest and I'm positively amazed at the response. 52 videos came in across the summer, with a big final push late last night. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, some are touching, some demonstrate some awesome musical skills. The production quality varies, but that's not really the point. All are fun, creative and demonstrate a humbling passion for HotSchedules (no doubt the cash prize helps...).
In the short span that I was with HotSchedules, I realized that the company has found the secret to success. What’s the secret, you ask? Brace yourself. What you’re about to read is classified information…
Ever worked in a restaurant? Even if you haven’t, chances are you’ve at least eaten in one recently, right? Now see if you can remember your server or your bartender or your host. Got a mental picture? How old were they? More than likely they were young-ish - a teen, 20 or 30-something, even with the average age of hourly staff on the rise.* Those age groups have something in common too – their love of technology. They not only want it, they’ve come to expect to have access to all things electronic pretty much all the time. I mean really, who do you think is sending Apple’s stock through the ceiling?
If that’s the precedent, then why would we continue to ask them to rely on static, often hard copy spreadsheets for their work schedules? Try to imagine being one of them – your manager posts a new schedule, sometimes in the location on a bulletin board that you have to check in person. Either that or you have to call and have someone read to you over the phone. Or maybe your manager sends it to you electronically via your personal email address. Hopefully it didn’t go to your junk folder or an account you closed and forgot to mention.
Once you finally know when you’re scheduled to work, what if you need to request a change? It’s your grandmother’s birthday on Saturday, and you forgot. Worse yet, you requested a particular day off, and your manager forgot or lost the receipt you wrote the request on. Or what if you realize you need some extra cash and want to add some hours? Good luck with that. I feel for ya.
With HotSchedules, you’d never have to deal with such seemingly ridiculous inconveniences. Your schedule can be accessed online or on your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry app as soon as it is posted. Shift trade or pick-up requests can be done instantly from the same device and once manager approved, push right back into the schedule.
The convenience is nice, no? But why, you ask, would a company invest in something like this merely to make working more convenient for hourly staff? While there are a number of labor cost saving benefits that HotSchedules brings to managers and restaurant owners, there is at least one critical benefit that comes just from providing this convenience to your employees: You will be creating a better work culture. Sound fluffy? It isn’t. Here’s why:
1) Positive work cultures increase your sales. I swear it’s true. Who would you rather have serving your customers? Happy, content workers who feel pleased and proud to work for you, or some grouchy, annoyed person who asked for the day off, but didn’t get it because their manager lost their request off? And which of those is more likely to have a better sales day? It's common sense.
2) Positive work cultures improve employee retention. There are about a million scholarly and editorial articles that support this truth, as well as quote the costs to replace employees, but here’s one that hits home for me and it's by the smart folks at People Report: http://www.enewsbuilder.net/peoplereport/e_article000696365.cfm?x=b11,0,w.
It quotes: “One of the most influential agents of change in today’s world is the constant wave of technological innovation… (which) provide a prime opportunity to improve not only the diner’s experience, but that of the employee as well.”
So ditch the spreadsheet and make your company a better place to work!
*Average age of hourly staff workers is now 29, according to Nations Restaurant News: http://nrn.com/article/foodservice-workers-managers-aging-gracefully