If you’re like everyone else in 2021 that has managed to survive the closures of the pandemic so far, you and your business are very overworked and understaffed. You have likely seen the “Now Hiring” signs outside of so many restaurants and eateries. There is probably one outside your own business. Most people thought that surviving the closures would be the biggest hurdle – and it was a big one – and that once the closures were largely over, they would be able to get back to business as usual, but that just hasn’t been the case.
The entire hospitality industry has had a lot of trouble finding enough employees to fully staff their businesses after coming out of the major lockdowns. Some people still have strong concerns about health and safety, some people don’t want to work in this kind of business, and some people are currently receiving benefits that make it unnecessary for them to go back to their prior jobs. Whatever the reason, a high turnover rate means getting quality employees can be difficult in this industry.
Keep the staff you have.
Offer incentives to stay; make sure they’re taken care of. Address their concerns, listen to their problems, let them know what your policies are, and then make it fair. You don’t have to be on either extreme to be successful as a manager; in fact, it’s better if you’re not. Don’t be a tyrant and don’t be their best friend. They don’t need you to do that. Your employees need you to be their boss. But you do still need to be approachable to win them over.
Company culture is key. People can tell when an environment is toxic, and if your restaurant is a toxic environment, they’re out of there. Genuinely care about employees, make sure they know they’re an appreciated part of a whole team. Whatever your business vision is, be sure your employees are a part of it.
Even with these careful actions on your part, sometimes your current or potential employees may leave for a higher paying job somewhere else. You don’t want to face this, but it’s best to be as supportive and accommodating as you can in the transition.
Automate as much as you can.
The hospitality industry is about creating positive in-person experiences, and emails, calls, and other forms of communication are relegated to the back of the line. Anything that can be handled by a machine, automation, or algorithm should be – especially phone calls and other interactions that are not person-to-person, so you can let your skeleton crew do what they’ve been hired to do. Sometimes having automations is the only way you can keep your doors open.
Let your staff focus on the people they see and interact with. Your face-to-face customers should be handled first, but you don’t want to lose other potential customers just because you don’t have enough people to help the ones on the phone.
Outsource the things your staff doesn’t have to do.
Get a third party accounting firm, find some inventory management software, or grab a checklist to ensure that everything is handled. Obviously, your team needs to take care of the customers in person and make the food, but many of the other things can be done by specialized companies or software, which will not only increase efficiency but also free up your staff so they can do what they need to. Ironically, this can also be much cheaper in the long run.
Make sure you’re ready for how your patrons want their food.
If most people are dining in, be sure you’ve got enough people to cover that without making customers wait in very long lines. If they want delivery, have your delivery staff ready. Not enough employees for delivery staff? It’s not ideal, but partnering up with popular delivery apps helps to get food from your restaurant into the hands of your hungry customers, and if you can’t do that yourself, it may be the only alternative. Offer curbside pickup for those who want it, as well.
The pandemic has created unprecedented times for our society, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to dealing with it. There is a “new normal,” which in this case means finding alternative solutions to hiring extra people that might help things run more smoothly. If you can’t hire more people, consider a service like Reachify.