The current trend of higher prices at the grocery store isn’t just affecting family budgets–restaurants are starting to feel the pinch, too. An industry that was already struggling, thanks to the recession, restaurants have been trying to slash prices and promote money-saving deals to pull in a regular crowd of customers and stay afloat. These tactics have worked, and most restaurants have actually seen a recent increase of clientele. Now restaurants are facing the difficult decision to not only cease these incentives, but raise their prices to keep up with inflating food costs, possibly undoing any gains they’ve recently achieved.
The primary foods shooting up in price are whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and flours. Naturally, these are common ingredients in many restaurant meals, leaving little wiggle room to substitute other ingredients or devise new recipes.
Causes of Price Increases
The cost of transporting foods from distributors to restaurants is soaring. The higher gas prices rise, the more restaurants will need to pay for their food supply. Poor weather has also driven up the prices. With higher demand and less produce to sell, farmers and suppliers must increase costs to stabilize their profits this season.
Creating Customer Loyalty
Developing customer loyalty could save a flailing restaurant when prices are forced upward. Regular customers will typically continue to patronize their favorite restaurants, even in the face of higher prices, so long as they continue to receive the customer service and quality food they are used to. Some restaurants have even posted fliers thanking regular customers for their loyalty, and apologizing for raising their prices.
Some restaurants will be forced to explore other options, rather than lose clientele with a price increase. This could mean switching suppliers or negotiating a lower price with their current ones. Some restaurants may look into purchasing more foods locally, to decrease transportation costs. Some switches can occur without the customers’ noticing a difference, but restaurants should be aware that the quality of their meals might fluctuate when switching suppliers.
Who’s Getting Hit
Two types of restaurants will likely be hit the hardest: small mom-and-pop stores, and chains that are already straining under significant debt. It is likely that bankruptcies and closed doors could be in the future for many of these struggling restaurants.
When you are faced with rising product cost, you are tasked with finding a way to offset these increases. You may be drawn to slightly reduce your food quality, but remember that this will not go over with regulars–or new customers for that matter. You can schedule as efficiently as possible or even reduce your hiring costs by partnering with a professional employment agency.
Rising Food Costs Could Force U.S. Restaurant Overhaul (Fox Business)
Higher Food Costs New Hurdle For Still Struggling Restaurants (Orange County Business Journal)
Workplace safety can be enhanced or undermined by a variety of factors. One such factor is employee substance use and abuse. In an ideal world, this topic would not be an issue, but let’s be honest: substance abuse is a factor in society that sometimes finds its way into the working world. As an employer, you must be on the lookout for anything that could cause your operations to be less efficient or that might lead to an accident. Substance abuse is closely tied with both of these negative outcomes, so it is important to consider the subject when organizing your business.
In Arizona, drug testing is not required by law–with the exception of a limited number of particular job descriptions. By and large drug testing in our state is at the discretion of the employer. According to state legislation drug testing can legally be used:
- To help screen an applicant before hiring
- To terminate a current employee who test positive for controlled substances
- To suspend an employee (with or without pay) who tests positive for controlled substances
If you plan to drug test your staff, there are some considerations that you need to make as an employer. You are responsible for certain things associated with the testing and could be held liable for privacy issues
Requirement to Consider
- Screening facility- You must select a drug screening facility that is approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American College of Pathologists, or the Department of Health Services to ensure accurate testing by a facility that meets certain sanitation and scientific standards.
- Types of tests- You can require staff to undergo screenings that require samples of “urine, blood, breath, saliva, hair or other substances from the person being tested.” (Arizona State Legislature) The type of test used is at the employer’s discretion.
- Confirmation- If a candidate or employee does test positive for drugs or alcohol, you are required to have a second confirmation test performed to rule out the possibility of a false positive test. The confirmation test must be a different form of drug screening than the original test.
- Privacy- Regardless of the results of the screening, you cannot share them with anyone except for the employee/candidate; internal employees who are directly associated with the human resource or management functions directly concerning the screening results; or an outside arbitrator or judge who may be brought in to settle a dispute. Otherwise nobody–not internal employees or anyone else who might have an interest in the employee–is allowed to know the results of the test. If you go afoul of this point of law, expect to lose a lawsuit.
- Transparency- If you choose to screen employees you must be up front about your policies. Put it in writing in your employee manual and take other efforts to ensure that your staff is aware of your substance use/abuse policies. You must inform your staff of:
- Who can be tested
- How they will be tested with a description of the procedure
- Substances you test for
- Implications of a positive drug test (what actions you will take as an employer against staff who fail a drug test)
- A confidentiality statement
- The employee’s right to be provided with the results of the screening
- The consequences of refusing a test
This is a basic overview of the drug screening process in Arizona. These are statewide regulations, so an employer in Tempe is subject to the exact same laws as one in Flagstaff or Phoenix. If you would like a full listing of regulations feel free to consult with the Arizona State Legislature. If you would like reliable staff who can show up at a moment’s notice, consult Labor Systems Job Center online or call 877-522-7797. We will work with you to provide candidates who have been drug screened if that is your preference.
At Labor Systems Job Center we work diligently to take as many potential compliance and regulatory issues off of the hands of employers as is humanly possible. As many employment-related compliance issues as we can handle for you, we are unfortunately unable to address every piece of regulation on your behalf.
Our partners who operate in the hospitality industry know that any business that serves food is subject to regulation by the Office of Food Safety and Environmental Safety. This governing body inspects and certifies that restaurants and other establishments that serve food and drink adhere to sanitation standards, which ensure that their customers are safe from foodborne illness.
If you would like a comprehensive view of these regulations, they are kind enough to provide a PDF which details standards and compliance issues. If you are running a business and limited on time we will refresh you on some of the main points of compliance.
Compliance Issues Related to Food Safety in Arizona
- Accountability- Your business will need a “Person in Charge” who has been certified by the state. This person–you or a manager–is responsible for knowing all aspects of food safety, from proper storage, to the right food handling techniques, to appropriate employee hygiene. Technically someone with this distinction must be present during all business hours to oversee your staff and operations as they relate to food safety.
- Employee management- This is where prepared temps can really pay off. Your “Person in Charge” is responsible for overseeing the staff and how they interact with food. Technically your staff must be forthcoming about any injuries or illnesses that they suffer from before you can allow them to work around food. Your “Person in Charge” is also responsible for verifying that your staff maintains acceptable levels of personal hygiene both in preparation for and during their shift.
- Storage- Food storage is extremely important. Not only must particular foods be stored on particular shelves (no vegetables below raw meat of course), but you must also label the packages according to food type, date, etc. Food packaging is also an issue, as anything in a tainted or otherwise damaged package must be noted and removed from food storage and obviously not served to customers.
- Contamination- Bacteria spreads fairly easily and invisibly. You are responsible for stopping the spread of bacteria and containing any potential outbreaks through proactive actions and educating your staff. The state breaks down sources of contamination as follows:
- Contamination from hands
- Contamination from tasting
- Contamination while separating, packaging and segregating food products
- Contamination from ice– including proper ice machine setup and drainage
- Contamination from lack of washing (mostly vegetables)
- Contamination from equipment, utensils and linens–you will need to know the different standards and uses for utensils made from different materials as well as proper dishwasher maintenance.
- Contamination by consumer (This applies to food products used as a display and to buffet situations.)
- Presentation- Your health inspector also wants to verify “food shall be offered for human consumption in a way does not mislead or misinform the consumer.” This means that coloring or wraps cannot be used to change the appearance of food and that verbiage is plain and understandable.
- Verbiage- When presenting food to guests, you must use plain and common names to identify the food products. You must also include reminders about food that may be served undercooked or raw and the dangers that might accompany such food.
Being in compliance with the state is not only good for your guests, but necessary to keep your license. We realize that these issues keep you busy on a day to day basis. If you need some more time to cover these compliance issues and are in need of additional staff, visit Labor Systems online to see how we can help you.
Every business is different, even those that compete in the same industry and go after the same customers. The nuances that exist make for a different set of processes and company culture. As each business is run differently, many managers think that their business is completely individual and that having practices that differ from standards will lead to success. While thinking outside of the box does make you an innovator, it does not mean that you must ignore standards that can and do work for many businesses.
When it comes to getting things done, you have many options. You can:
- staff your own employees
- outsource to an expert
- bring in temporary employees whom you can oversee to ensure quality, without requiring time to hande payroll or compliance issues
Many managers and business owners will use a combination of all three of these tactics in order to accomplish what they need to get done. Using a combination of methods can be a good way to get the job done while remaining cost effective and flexible. Achieving both of those traits will ensure that your business can please customers, continue to grow, and weather financial and situational storms.
Use Temporary Workers to Back up Skilled Staff
Temporary workers can be a valuable resource to any business. They are:
- Available immediately- Temps are a phone call away, so they can be dispatched almost as quickly as a problem in your business might arise.
- Cost effective- Temporary workers don’t require payroll expenses, benefits, or insurance costs, which means their total calculated cost can easily be less than that of a full-time worker.
It is understandable that every business would need a certain number of full-time employees who have knowledge of business processes, regular customers and the specific characteristics of the business as an entity. By all means, bring on full-time staff who can provide structure, especially for highly skilled positions. Do not discount the value of using temporary workers to staff your lesser skilled positions. Your skilled positions can be staffed by your full-time people, who are in turn supported by temporary workers. This way you have the peace of mind that full-time employees bring, along with the flexibility and financial benefits that temporary labor can easily provide.
Temporary staff will be supervised by your full-time employees. This way the standards and practices that make your business successful will never be eliminated. They have the skill sets to guide work flow and ensure that your final product is what you intend it to be. They can also maintain customer and supplier relationships, as they will have more time now that they are being supported by temps. You need a chef to source food and design a menu, but a temporary worker can set tables, wash dishes and even prepare food. The same works in an office environment where your full-time account managers meet with customers, while temps file paperwork, schedule meetings with your clients’ assistants, and organize and deliver mail or internal communications.
This marriage of full-time staff and temporary labor can make for a very well organized and well budgeted business. It is obviously appealing to businesses that compete in seasonal industries but can become a seamless part of any organizational structure.
If you took a random poll on the street, many people would probably tell you that working in the hospitality industry is easy. They might think that the responsibility is low and that the tasks that must be completed are relatively simple. As a result of this, many people wrongly believe that all you need to staff the hospitality industry is a group of warm bodies. In practice, this could not be further from the truth. Quality hospitality employees have some characteristics that allow them to perform their jobs well. The truth is, not everyone is cut out for the hospitality industry, whether they are full time or temporary employees.
So what should a hiring manager be looking for? How do you identify good hospitality employees in an interview when candidates are putting their best foot forward?
- Communication-This is one of the first things that you should be on the lookout for. Many hospitality employees deal directly with your guests; without the ability to communicate effectively your guests will not receive proper customer service–crucial in this industry–and will likely be unhappy. Even back of house and support staff must be able to communicate well. Although they might not constantly deal with customers, they might at some point, not to mention that the hospitality industry is fast paced. Whether cooks need to get food prepared for a catered party of 100 or your maids need to turn over twelve rooms for waiting guests, an inability to communicate will surely lead to disaster.
- Look For: eye contact, well formed answers to interview questions and alert body language
- Multi-Tasking- Every position in the hospitality industry must be able to do several things simultaneously. This is where those unfamiliar with the industry seem to get confused. Although the tasks might be relatively simple, the ability to work on several things at once and get everything done correctly is a must. Servers must pay attention to multiple guests at the same time; hotel clerks must greet and answer telephones. Without multi-tasking, the job simply does not get done.
- Look For: examples from their past work that indicate an ability to multi-task; try asking two- or three-pronged questions that relate to slightly different topics.
- Attitude- Different personalities tend to excel at different jobs. While a higher strung, aggressive personality might perform exceptionally on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, those traits will quickly become a problem in the hospitality industry. You need staff who are able to remain calm and deal with customers and potential problems in a straightforward yet relaxed manner. Without the right personality, your employees will not do well with your guests.
- Look For: a candidate who smiles, answers to questions that hint at optimism
- Flexibility- This is another crucial trait for quality hospitality workers. For a temporary agency, it is an absolute must, as our temps will be changing assignments frequently. In the hospitality industry in general, an employee must be open and adaptable to changes. While doing business, things can happen quickly and employees must be able to react to the changes in order to best serve customers. Without flexibility even the most confident and intelligent people will not be effective workers in the hospitality industry at any level.
- Look For: open-minded candidates who can explain to you why flexibility is important
Quality hospitality employees often make the difference between success and failure in the industry. If a business traveler gets superior service at a hotel while meeting with clients in Phoenix, he is likely to remember that and book a room at the same hotel next time he’s in town. He might even tell co-workers about that chain when gets back home to Scottsdale. Realistically your customers don’t know whether they received that great service from a temporary worker or a permanent staffer; they just remember that they would spend money with you again.
Recent figures put unemployment in the state of Arizona at 9.7%, which represents one of the highest figures since the 1980’s. We all know that the economy, both locally and nationally, is in a recovery period, but that does not help with the current state of things. What does unemployment mean to a business owner? Can we take advantage of the situation, or is it just another aspect of the current downtrodden economic cycle?
How Does Unemployment Affect Me Again?
As an employer you likely know that you pay an unemployment tax. As long as you have anyone working for you at least part time 20 weeks per year or pay a worker $1500 in a quarter, you are subject to the tax. The actual costs to individual businesses differ based upon how much your payroll is and how long any former employee that you are currently paying out worked for you during their base period. The base period is a predetermined amount of time that the state deems representative of an individual’s income. If employees receive unemployment, the amount they receive is based upon how much they earned during the base period.
In essence, if a worker was under your employ for the whole base period, you pay the employer’s entire share of their unemployment payments (the State and Federal Governments also contribute to unemployment payments). Likewise if they worked for you for half of the base period you pay half and so on. You are charged by the state and they compile your unemployment payments into an account. When former employees are granted unemployment, the state takes money from your account and uses it to pay part of the payments. If your account ever gets too low, you can expect your unemployment taxes to increase.
Unemployment taxes are an unavoidable part of running a business that hires on workers. As you can imagine, the current economic times mean that a significant amount of money is being paid to citizens who are out of work. Some businesses are likely experiencing increases in taxes due to their accounts being drawn below acceptable limits. Hence it is costing them more money to do business, possibly with less staff. This is definitely a negative aspect of unemployment and the current economy.
So What Can We Do?
Since giving up is not an option for most business owners everyone must find ways to deal with the situation. As a staffing company, we are obligated to point out that using our services could help you bypass the unemployment costs associated with some of your new hires. When it comes to temporary workers, we are the employer so we handle the unemployment costs for you. We can let you bring on new people and try out new positions. Instead of your payroll, and of course your unemployment taxes, going up, your expenses do. While this might sound bad at first, increased expenses equal less taxes in the long run, so by using temps you could actually decrease your taxes and get the workers you need. Not a bad deal.
Otherwise as employers it is important to remain positive and optimistic. We can look at the large pool of unemployed workers as potential opportunity. It means that we have more options to choose from to staff our businesses, so long as you have the time to evaluate multiple candidates. It also means that we should all be focused on growth. The lessons learned from running a lean staff have shown us how to effectively operate with fewer people. They have also shown us the value of having a few more sets of hands around. As we grow, our businesses we will be able to effectively put the citizens of Arizona back to work, while increasing our own profits. That has the potential to be a win-win situation.
Support staff is needed in every industry. When it comes to the hospitality industry, temporary staffing can be a very useful resource. Increases in business volume or unexpected changes can leave you high and dry from a staffing standpoint. Wouldn’t it be great if you had someone that you could call that would be able to send over reliable staff to meet your hospitality staffing needs? You do.
Hospitality staffing means several things. We can provide staff for a variety of employers:
- Banquet Halls and Special Event Centers
- Social Clubs
- Party Planners
Success in the hospitality industry requires a team effort. Banquet directors need servers who can interact well with guests and work well with other staff. Hotel managers need housekeepers who can get their job done effectively, but also communicate with front desk personnel so that rooms can be booked. We could go on and on, but the truth is, we don’t have time. We are busy making sure that our temporary staffers are ready to make seamless transitions in the workplace.
We train our temporary staff to be team oriented and dedicated to their jobs. We ensure that they are prepared to work with other employees regardless of whether they are fellow temps or your full-time staff. In addition to teamwork, we stress the importance of customer service. Hospitality staff is often on the front lines, directly interacting with customers. Our temps know how to treat your guests with respect and provide over-the-top service when they are on the job. We all know that in any business happy customers make for long-term relationships and referrals. When it comes to hospitality, we know what an employee needs in their skill set and we make sure that our temps are:
- Well groomed
- Diligent at completing Their responsibilities
As we offer hospitality staff for a variety of industries, we can provide staff to fill multiple positions. Call us when you are in need of:
- Support staff to set up before and clean up after events
We have the hospitality staff you need. When you are trying to focus on organizing for a busy holiday season or a large upcoming event, you will not have the time to interview multiple candidates for unskilled positions. You do have time to call us and discuss what you need. Tell us what kind of employee you are looking for, and we will send the temps that best fit your needs.
We offer staffing option to fit your needs
- Temporary staff- In the event that you only need some extra support staff for a limited time or for select events
- Temp to hire- If you want to take your time to decide whether you need a temporary employee or a full time. This option let’s you try out a new employee while being able to keep your options open.
- Direct placement- For instances where you know from the beginning that you need an employee to join your team, but your schedule does not afford you the necessary time to properly select an employee from the large pool of applicants out there.