Human resource is at the core of the hospitality industry and the labor cost accounts for the majority of expenses in the restaurant business. The percentage of restaurant labor costs to sales averages at 22-40% and in some cases in can be almost as high as 75%! This coupled with capital intensive nature of this industry makes running a restaurant a very costly affair. This also makes it necessary for restaurants and cafes to control their labor costs to maintain profitable margins. Find out more about controlling restaurant costs here.
How to Reduce Restaurant Labor Costs
Reduced revenues and stiff margins may lead you to desperate measures such as slashing down monetary incentives and even getting rid of people. But that is not the way to go. Use the following tips to cut down the restaurant labor costs in your restaurant business.
1. Control Attrition Rate
According to a study, Hospitality sector in India has the highest attrition within the country and globally too. Attrition related costs include recruitment and training of new workers, not to forget the lost man-hours and efficiency. Heavy competition, long working hours and foraying for growth opportunities elsewhere are the driving factors behind this phenomenon. High attrition rate is one of the major reasons behind the towering restaurant labor costs.
Providing better growth opportunities, offering incentives, and introducing employee loyalty programmes and improving work culture can go a long way in controlling attrition rate. A well-defined employee welfare policy and team building exercises are also known to be very effective in employee retention. This article will tell you how to keep your restaurant staff happy and keep them from leaving.
2. Work on an Appropriate Salary Structure
Commission based salary structure can work wonders on cost control angle and acts as a great motivator for the employees too. Therefore, it is advisable to have a composite compensatory package for the staff which includes fixed and commission/performance based incentive structure. If you have any pension or retirement plans, then convert them into profit-sharing programmes. The temporary or part-time workforce can be appointed on a complete commission- based compensatory structure.
You can review the perquisites and salary levels regularly and eliminate the costs that put you above the industry average. This step should be taken only after an open discussion with employees who would be affected by this step otherwise it might lead to a high employee turnover.
3. Cross Train the Team
Cross training ensures that one employee is trained to handle multiple tasks and roles. This not only ensures that you have a workforce who can multi-task but also lead to a growth of professional capabilities of the staff. The latter is usually welcomed warmly by employees. It can also take care of unforeseen and sudden vacancies in the restaurant. Cross training increase efficiency, develops empathy and lends team building opportunities at the organisational level.
4. Employ Part-Time Help
Part time hires usually charge an hourly rate which is lower than permanent employees. Also entitlement of permanent staff in terms of statutory benefits is a much bigger financial commitment. This is why engaging part-time employees makes a lot of sense. A restaurant can offload unskilled and general chores to such temporary labour force thus reducing the burden on professional and permanent staff.
Certain days of the year are indeed more busy than the other comparatively slow days. To cater to the periodic footfall in your restaurant, it is a good idea to hire seasonal workers. You can hire them on a contractual basis for a few months, and then also offer them permanent employment if they turn out to be invaluable to your business.
5. Invest in Hiring
Investment in recruitment goes far beyond money and funds. The process needs an investment of time and effort. Focus on your requirements, and review job profiles accordingly. Look for the best fit instead of hastily filling up the vacancy.
Remember a wrong person for the wrong job would only add to attrition and additional cost on recruitment and training. According to conservative estimates by the experts of the industry,the cost of recruitment is about 25% of the average employee salary! Misfits can be bad for the reputation of the restaurant and affect the business in long run.
6. Review and Schedule
The restaurant business is very dynamic and is affected largely by seasonality and occasions. Review your customer footfalls on the weekends, holidays and festive seasons, and accordingly schedule your full-time employees, hire part time help and plan your food budget. This will help you control your payroll cost, minimize wastage in the kitchen and run your restaurant at its best capacity during the peak season.
7. Invest in Automation, Equipment, and Design
‘Technology is replacing human labor in the restaurant business’, would be a tall statement to make, had restaurant technology not grown leaps and bounds in the recent years. Although not completely, but technology has in fact automated restaurant operations so much, that little human effort and labor is now being required. Features like Automatic Billing, Online Ordering, Table Reservation have greatly reduced the need for human interference. Even tools like Kitchen Display System (KDS) which automatically accept order from the POS have eliminated the need for printing the Kitchen Order Ticket (KOT) and then manually taking the order to the kitchen. Technology has greatly reduced human effort, and thus also helps in reducing restaurant labor costs.
A good restaurant design is not only about attractive façade, but also about the facilitation of workflow within its four walls. A well-designed kitchen and restaurant can provide restaurant staff with ample arm and leg room without creating bottlenecks in the workflow from orders to delivery. Familiarise the staff with their work floor and train them well in using the equipment. Such simple training sessions boost productivity and lead to efficient use of equipment as well.
Try out these tips to reduce your restaurant labor costs and let us know how they turned out for you!