Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Restaurants find new ways to cope with a tight labor market

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Restaurants find new ways to cope with a tight labor market https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/thinkstock-staff500-500x198.jpg

By Paul Schlienz

It’s a tight labor market.

“They’re opening restaurants left and right in this city,” Fred Espinoza, chief operating officer at Houston’s Cordúa Restaurants, told the Houston Chronicle.

With this kind of growth, employees are much in demand and not always easy to come by. Thus, qualified employees for every restaurant position, be it back-of-the-house or front-of-the-house, are at a premium.

TDn2k, a Dallas-based restaurant industry data warehouse, surveys restaurants employing 1 million workers each quarter. This data on hiring, expected hiring and worker searches is crunched into an index with a baseline of 50. Anything above 50 means a stressed labor market. During the second quarter of 2015, the index reached 82.5.

“The law of supply and demand kicks in, and employees have more options,” Michael Harms, director of TDn2k, told the Houston Chronicle. “It gets harder to hold on to them.”

Restaurants are responding to the realities of this tight labor market  by looking online for employees.

As with every other industry where potential employees are sought through social media and the Web, the restaurants are also utilizing networking and job matching sites. Although word-of-mouth is still an important factor in finding prospective employees at many restaurants was in the tight-knit world of restaurants, many foodservices are  recognizing the value of matching services like Culinary Agents.

Founded in 2012 by former IBM executive Alice Cheng, Culinary Agents is a kind of LinkedIn meets Match.com for the foodservice industry. Job seekers create free profiles that showcase education, experience, skills and previous work history. Employers create business profiles, post jobs and view resumes. Opportunities and talent and talent and business are automatically matched. Restaurants are finding that it’s a cost effective way to source all levels of food service positions, be they for culinary, pastry, wine and spirits, dining or office personnel.

“Our focus in the beginning was the top 10 culinary cities,” Shawndra McCrorey, Culinary Agents’ partner success manager, told Examiner.com. ‘We are now in 30 cities nationwide and are soon expanding to Italy and France. Our business allows chefs and restaurateurs new ways to connect with each other.”

Initially, Culinary Agents focused on fine dining. The company still represents 60 percent of Michelin starred restaurants, in the U.S., but its reach has expanded to support fast casual restaurants, hotels, catering and other foodservice and hospitality businesses.

Quick service restaurants are also looking online for employees.

“Websites like SnagAJob.com or FohBoh.com that are targeted toward hourly workers or restaurant job-seekers are helpful,” Robin Van Tan wrote in QSR. Van Tan, who interviewed a panel of hospitality industry experts, counsels against restaurants using job fairs because many of the people who attend these events aren’t interested in working in the hospitality industry.

Of course, while the new online tools are worth exploring, restaurateurs should never forget that one of the best, most tried and true sources for excellent employees is ProStart, the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation’s unique program for training high school students to be the foodservice industry’s future stars.

Supporting ProStart makes sense for every restaurateur. No matter whether you are facing a tight labor market or are in the midst of a tight job market, you can always count on a ProStart National Certificate of Achievement as being an accurate measure of a potential employees who is ready to make an immediate positive impact in our industry.

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