You Get What You Pay For

By | June 29th, 2018

William C. Donohue, Founding Publisher bdonohue@clubandresortbusiness.com

If you are paying a premium for seasonal help above the regional average, you become the place people want to work, as opposed to where people are willing to work.

As the club season kicks into full gear, we are going to be faced with something we haven’t faced before: full employment. I cannot walk past any service-oriented business (especially foodservice) that doesn’t have a “help wanted” sign prominently displayed.

This means that our club market will be competing more than ever for employees, especially seasonal ones. We are going to have to face the fact that our employee costs are going to rise. In the face of this I want to propose a radical idea: Pay more than you have to.

We are going to compete for what are generally minimal-skilled, seasonal employees who have more choices than ever this year. The employee pool you can pick from is made up of two types of workers: those who want to work in your facility, and those who are willing to. Those two words, want and willing, define the level of service you can provide.

Those who want to work for you will generally listen to suggestions, will be open to (and in fact seek) training, will provide a congenial work environment, and most importantly, will tell their friends what a good place to work your facility is.

Those who are willing to work for you generally will accept your wage promise, but are fulfilling a job in many cases to the lowest acceptable performance standards. They will have higher degrees of absence, be tardy with respect to start times, have discipline issues, and generally will be indifferent to member satisfaction, especially with a service guarantee.

We are in the service business where success is defined by member satisfaction. Let’s do a little thought experiment. For illustration purposes, let’s say you hire 20 seasonal employees for a four-month season, usually in the food-and-beverage operation. I am suggesting you pay $0.50 above the prevailing wage in your immediate marketing area. This comes to an additional $4.00 per day, per employee. On a macro level, this amounts to an additional $12,800 for the season for your seasonal employees. This is not going to break any club’s financial footprint, but it may make a huge difference in the dining experience for your members.

Club boards are typically made up of successful business executives who have controlled costs, met budgets, and defined their success in financial terms. But club food and beverage ultimately is defined by member satisfaction—and increasingly, clubs have to be willing to pay for it.

If you are paying a premium for seasonal help above the regional average, then the word spreads and you become the place people want to work, as opposed to where people are willing to work. There is a huge difference, and it is felt in your dining facilities.

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