Operating with Less Labor
Labor Management: Everything You Need to Know About Operating with Less Labor
From Mesopotamia to ancient Egypt, people have worked tirelessly throughout the centuries to perfect one of the world’s oldest traditions—beer-making.
Today, there’s more variety, distinction, and possibility for breweries than at any other time in history. But with beer-makers on the rise, how do you ensure your brewery stands out?
By knowing how to modernize your business (think contactless payment and eye catching branding) you can withstand the test of time. Follow these tips to bring your brewery into the 21st century.
Labor Planning During a Pandemic (and for What Follows)
When determining how to manage your labor force right now, there’s simply no way to avoid the impact of COVID-19. Wide-spread workforce reductions rocked the hospitality industry in 2020, and turnover rates nearly doubled from the previous year’s 78.9% to 130.7%.
Thankfully, the end finally seems near and hospitality labor rates are recovering. Restaurant companies added 187,000 jobs in April 2021 to bring the industry total to 10.6 million. While the overall figure represents hope in terms of a one-year growth rate of 4.3 million, it still remains 1.7 million short of February 2020’s figures.
However, 2019’s 78.9% turnover rate is not insignificant. With such a revolving door among the industry, operators should seize opportunities to retain and hire the right staff, thereby reducing labor cost. As patrons begin to visit your premises once more—rather than only your online ordering options—review your hiring practices and where alternatives may prove a better business decision than automatically adding new employees.
Don’t Ignore Some of Your Pre-Pandemic Numbers
Though you’re looking at today and tomorrow, your labor and operational data from prior years remain the best baseline for future planning. Don’t ignore the metrics you do have.
When patrons regularly sat down inside your establishment, what were the peak hours? Identify your busiest periods and include them within the core of your planning strategy, brainstorming ways to optimize your hospitality and operations further.
Evaluate staff scheduling practices to ensure that you have the coverage you need to capitalize on the moments when your establishment is most filled—from the kitchen to the bar to your front-room servers and hosts.
Conversely, what were the slowest periods of your week? While no one wants dead times, try to find ways to bring in more business or cut costs:
- Schedule less staff during the hours where it makes sense to do so.
- Consider changing your hours of operation if your revenue in the earliest or latest hours doesn’t meet operating expenses.
- Try promotional offers or specials that might attract more guests.
You don’t need to use words like “free” or “2-for-1” if you’re worried that current or prospective guests may turn their noses up. Perhaps offer a “Lunch Date for Two” on your specials list, capitalizing on an appetizer and a larger portioned entree with better profit margins. Anything and everything may prove an opportunity depending on how you frame it.
How much overtime did you pay staff in recent months and prior years? According to TZA, which specializes in labor-management solutions, 50% of overtime cost is due to poor scheduling and planning practices.
Are you scheduling too many people for certain shifts and not enough for others? Have you paid enough overtime that it makes sense to hire additional staff? Is it worth considering solutions that maximize your existing workforce by simplifying or cutting down unnecessary activities?
Do More with Less Labor—Self-Service and Automation Solutions
Automation in hospitality doesn’t have to mean robo-restaurants and compu-chefs. Instead, you may wish to investigate technology that augments your hospitality and efficiency. A 2019 survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association revealed that most consumers would like to see more technologies that improve service levels and simplify ordering and payment.
Contactless Menus, Ordering, and Payment
One of the most effective managed labor solutions you can implement is a contactless platform that allows guests to browse your menu, order, and pay their tabs—all in one seamless experience.
The Contactless Experience (From Your Guests’ Perspective)
With a contactless platform, the basics of your guests’ experience will resemble the following:
- After sitting down (or approaching food trucks and other physically portable or smaller locations), guests scan a QR code payment and/or ordering label using their smartphones’ native camera capabilities to open a contactless menu—no apps or logins necessary.
- After browsing and choosing from among your awesome offerings, guests place their orders directly from the menu.
- If guests have questions or merely find themselves indecisive, they can request a server stop by their table from the menu as well.
- Guests’ orders arrive or are served up for pick-up.
- When guests are ready to close out their tab, they can make a contactless payment from the menu with either their credit card or a digital wallet, such as Apple or Android Pay.
Visit our blog post about how to create a mobile menu for more information.
Reposition Your Staff
With a contactless menu handling the bulk of ordering and paying processes, you can position your staff to deliver on other aspects of your hospitality experience. Servers no longer need to physically touch each table as often, as guests can request they swing by when needed or wanted. Servers also don’t need to take time inputting orders into your POS, tallying up tabs, or delivering, collecting, and returning black, bi-fold bill holders.
With all that extra service time reclaimed, you can reimagine your guests’ experience and find ways to bring that hospitality you’ve always envisioned delivering further to life:
- Spend more time welcoming guests and inviting them into your establishment.
- This is the perfect time to ask guests if they’d like an overview of contactless platforms if they might be unfamiliar.
- Have a server, mixologist, or sommelier stop by the table to ask guests what dishes they might be considering and make recommendations of the most palatable pairings.
- Allow your most personable servers to spend more time interacting with your guests when they are requested to touch a table.
Modernize Your Service Offerings
Drinking a delicious beer at a favorite brewery isn’t just about the taste—it’s about the experience. So, when it comes to business modernization, expand your menu to include more engaging services such as:
- Behind-the-Scenes Tours – Brewery tours are very popular among beer connoisseurs. Have your guide walk the guests through the process from milling to filling and share a little about the history of your brewery, the brewing process, and the new recipes you’re cooking up. People usually get thirsty after a tour, so encourage a tasting at the end.
- A Back Tasting Room – Let your customers drink amongst the kegs. A tasting room within the brewing area is a good way to give a first-hand look at the process while creating a unique ambiance your customers will love.
- Brewing Classes – Some beer aficionados want to make the leap from drinker to brewer but don’t know where to start. Give them a little help by offering brewing classes and showing them the ropes of malting, mashing, and lautering.
- Pairing Events – What goes better with beer than a perfectly paired meal? Reach out to local restaurants, food trucks, and catering businesses to create a menu perfectly paired with your beer – a perfect marketing strategy.
Are you an operator and who wears a second hat as a chef? With a contactless platform handling all of your guests’ orders and payments, you can concentrate on serving mouth-watering meals. Perfect for food trucks, stands, and similarly operating venues, going contactless truly lets you do more with less.
In addition to clawing back more time to concentrate on your culinary creations, one-chef armies who go contactless immediately increase sanitation by removing all physical touchpoints—most notably, handling payment. They also realize savings on consumables:
- Disposable gloves that have to be changed out (or soap used to wash your hands) every time you swap between running the stovetop and the cash register
- Paper for printed receipts
- Disinfectant spray and paper towels used to clean separate areas specific to ordering and paying or claiming orders
Whether you’re in a better position to re-hire the best of your former staff or intend to start accepting applications for new labor, take the opportunity to evaluate your hiring practices. Only 28.4% of restaurants have maintained 80-100% of their staff through most of the pandemic.
As patrons venture out and begin to dine in more, there’s a good chance you may need to expand your workforce.
Revisiting 2019’s 78.9% turnover rate among hospitality employees—can you find ways to narrow potential hires to those less likely to depart quickly? Most restaurants lose staff in the first ninety days. When operators have to regularly replace staff, they lose significant hours to the non-revenue generating activities of reviewing applications, conducting interviews, and training.
Could you improve or take more time to train (or cross-train) your new staff?
David Scott Peters, operator of the restaurant training and consulting firm Restaurant Expert, attributes the high turnover rates in hospitality to employees “not having training and bad supervision.” He states that new employees quit so quickly “because they don’t know what their job is and are tired of having a bully manager yelling at them.”
Cross-Training Your Staff
When you train new staff (or have the opportunity to train existing staff more for productivity improvements), do you cross-train them for different jobs within your establishment? To find ways to stretch your workforce during peak periods or make it easier for staff to cover positions during unexpected rushes, operators should consider cross-training their employees. This also increases employee engagement.
Hiring and Technology
Hiring is another area where technology may help operators with productivity. Sprockets is a hiring solution for restaurants that collects a completed survey from three chosen staff members. New applicants receive the same survey as part of their hiring process to help operators find prospective employees who match their best staff more closely.
Contactless platforms also assist with hiring, as operators can scale faster without immediately needing more hands-on-deck for collaboration. The provided buffer allows operators to spend more time with applicants to get their hires right the first time.
GoTab Helps You Go Contactless
With GoTab, you can quickly implement a contactless menu, ordering, and payment platform to assist your labor management council in productivity gain. Included staff-scheduling functionality can serve as a labor management system when combined with logged guest traffic from each contactless transaction. Together, they provide more insightful data to reference while managing your workforce.
Aside from the labor-management benefits, operators using GoTab have seen higher order volumes at a 25% increase in customer spend, as well as half-star improvements in their Yelp reviews.
BDO. Staffin in the Wake of COVID-19: How Much Has Changed? https://www.bdo.com/blogs/restaurants/march-2021-(1)/staffing-in-the-wake-of-covid-19-how-much-has-chan
FSR. Is it Really Possible to Reduce Employee Turnover in a Restaurant? https://www.fsrmagazine.com/fsr/employee-management/it-really-possible-reduce-employee-turnover-restaurant
QSR Magazine. Restaurants Can Boost 90-Day Employee Retention by 43 Percent. https://www.qsrmagazine.com/sponsored/restaurants-can-boost-90-day-employee-retention-43-percent#:~:text=In%20January%2C%20the%20Bureau%20of,to%2078.9%20percent%20in%202019.
Restaurant Business Online. Restaurants Continued to Add More Jobs Last Month. https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/financing/restaurants-continued-add-more-jobs-last-month
TZA. Effective Strategies for Managing & Reducing Overtime. https://www.tza.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/WP-Strategies-for-Managing-and-Reducing-Overtime.pdf