The Great Hall
Is there really an hourly labor shortage? The Great Hall: Is there really an hourly labor shortage?
By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 10:26 pm: Edit

I came across this article in a newsletter I receive from an industry .com; I would like to hear other opinions.

I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the labor shortage we face in our industry is not caused by a lack of bodies at the hourly level, but by a lack of enlightened management at the executive level. I am led to this conclusion by the discouraging number of e-mails I receive
from managers who are fed up with trying to deliver high levels of service under the restrictions created by their company policies, who are frustrated when percentages are emphasized at the expense of hospitality and when substandard, even disruptive, staff behavior is repeatedly tolerated because "it's too hard to find good people."
Unit managers, at least the ones who write me for advice, hold little hope that the thinking "at the top" will ever change, so they only see two options. One is to scrap their standards, knuckle under and become good little company soldiers. The second is to leave for a more humane working environment, often in another industry. Those that do sell out to the corporate line then create oppressive working environments . . . that drive
their good workers into other restaurants and, increasingly, into other industries.
My problem is not with unit level management. In general, I think unit managers are close enough to the realities of the business to (usually)
know the right things to do at the right time for the right reasons. The problem is that the system these managers have to live with -- indeed,
that everybody on the staff has to live with -- is really created at the corporate level and often does not give unit managers the latitude to do what they know needs to be done. The corporate climate, in turn, is created by executives who often have little or no operational experience and who are several steps removed from the daily functioning of the restaurants. If these key execs do come from operations, it was long ago in a totally different set of market conditions.
Often, they are more concerned with the price of their stock than with the experience their restaurants are delivering to the public. They are in the business of restaurants, focused on numbers . . . which is distinctly different from being in the restaurant business, focused on hospitality.
This insanity, while most obvious in a corporate setting, is often repeated by absentee owners with a well-intentioned sense of what is "right" and
what is "wrong" and a "my way or the highway" attitude. While I acknowledge that we all have the right to screw our own lives up any way we want, I am concerned about the message that we are delivering to the young workers of today who we need to grow our industry in the new century. Will they stick around long enough to "get it" or will we send them running to other opportunities?
People don't leave companies, they leave managers. If turnover is an issue in your organization, you need to do some serious introspection . . . while
you still have an organization to examine!

. . . I feel better now!

Bill Marvin
The Restaurant Doctor

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 10:35 pm: Edit

Here is another interesting statistic for our industry.
Do you know that the food business is the only business where you purchase the raw product, manufacture it and sell the product all in the same location. Think about it!
No other business does this.
Considering that, restaurant mgrs. are the most sought after by other industries due to this fact, any other business only performs one or two of the above mentioned processes in one location. They may buy the raw product, manufacture and re-sell at different locations.
Procter & Gamble specifically looks for food experience in middle mgmt. personnel because they are able to handle multi tasking with little ease; and are used to the long hours.

By winzerman on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 01:58 am: Edit

What can I say ,other than I agree with just about everything Bill Marvin has written in the last few years. If this industry could even for a minute listen to what he says maybe things would change . But you see he speaks a foreign language which most people can't comprehend. Its a language of love and understanding and treat people like you would like to be treated.There are so few people in this business who can even begin to understand this . It seems so simple but having the courage to work and live and run a business in this way is a tall order for many people.I've chosen to live my life this way and God willing maybe put it to practice in my own place some day.But I will tell you that since I started running my kitchens in this way my crews are better and happier with less turn over its all good . The only draw back I've had is the unwillingness of owners to support me and eventually I have to leave because my style clashes so much with there strict heavy handed ways of running things .

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 08:09 am: Edit

Of course it clashses w/ owners winzerman.
A mentor of mine who recently died, a man of men in this business, Michael Hurst taught me, and many students of this philosophy. He ran his business to accomodate the lives of his employees, he had no full time people at all, (except key persons) he placed the schedule out and you filled in the days you could work. The man was a pioneer of this attitude in the restaurant business which he got from a mentor of his in Michigan, a fellow named Winn Schuler; Michael spoke of this man very fondly as to how his life in the restaurant business affected how he treated people in the busines. This man co-signed for peoples' mortgages, cars, paid for births of kids when parents could not afford it.
I also ran my kitchens in this manner and got the same response you got from owners, "you are too easy on the help". Well it worked for me, I had the same kitchen crew at four different kitchens, as soon as I went somewhere I would try to get them in asap.
When students used to try to speak about costs and expenses associated with M. Hurst's thinking, Michael would stop them and tell them; "don't worry about the bottom line, if you take care of your people the bottom line will fall in place".
Of course there were controls and checks and balances in place, there has to be but, you don't have to be an a--hole to run a business.

By Fodigger (Fodigger) on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 01:24 pm: Edit

While I agree w/ alot of what is said, some I don't. One reason that management is concerned about stock price is because of the people who want their heads after the stock price drops often at not fault of their own. Just because you made a profit of 0.12 cents per share instead of the 0.14 cents per share that some analyst thought you should have made. And yes we are experiancing a shortage of GOOD hourly workers they are bailing out for easier jobs. Some burger joints in my area are paying $8.00 per hour plus full benefits just to find people. I live in an area where the medium price for a house in the county is $290,000.00! Where are these hourly people suppose to live? Rents are $1300.00 a month for an apartment. They leave the area leaving noone to do the jobs. I live in a small county approx. 250,000 people and in todays paper there are no less than 25 ads for cooks.

By waxman on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 08:05 am: Edit

i've decided not to make a career switch after all. i might as well stay in the career field i am currently trained for. after doing some research and some looking around;these posts have covinced me to simply improve on the skillsets that i've already developed. i am an enthusiastic home-cook,however,it's not the some gig.

as far as dealing with hourly help goes,some of these 8.00/hr. workers view progressive management as lenient and consequently try to get away with as much as they can,much like a child would a parent. a gal i work with comes to mind. i guess when you hire you can find and weed these people out. anyway,thanks for the excellent posts.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:59 am: Edit

What do you do now waxman?

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:29 pm: Edit

We share tips and provide enough benefits to keep our people. I find it works well that way. Our average wage works out to be competitive with other blue-collar work in town. The cost of living is moderate and if a couple were to work for me, they might be able to make a house payment. I like being able to pay that well. The peace of mind that I get from stable employees is worth the extra cost. I came up with this on my own after years of being s*rewed by owners, managers, chefs, etc.
The greatest asset of this website is now us forward-looking people aren't stuck away in the kitchen, alone. The dark ages have to end some time. I'm finding out that there are quite a few us out here, not just a lone voice up Peach Creek.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 09:08 am: Edit

ChefSpike, read this thread!!!

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 07:57 pm: Edit

I did and thanks.
answered on another one.

By Panini (Panini) on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 06:40 am: Edit

This is all so true. There is no one in our corperation who works for someone else. We all have responsibilities, we all cover each other.
Quick story, had exactly 3 hours to buy a delivery van for the wholesale location, the older one died. I go through ford commercial when I buy. So this guy tells me he'll have rear air put in that cargo van and deliver it to me in the morning. I tell him I would rather a passanger van because of the suspension. Removeable seats so my manager can use it sometimes for personal use. PL/PW/cd player, seperate condenser in the back etc. He looks me directly in the eyes and states, why would you want your Mexicans to drive this van, they will trash it on you.
Long story short, bought our first Chevy van, fully loaded for Juan and his family. Took an extra day though.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 04:58 pm: Edit

You are cool Jeff! You remind me of a mentor of mine, Michael Hurst! This guy was a great person, businessman, name it.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 05:02 pm: Edit

Panini you should come to Orlando to open a shop man you can put chocolate covered turds and they would fly out the door man!

Add a Message

This is a private posting area. A valid username and password combination is required to post messages to this discussion.