Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like it’s 2025
Prince’s song “1999” was released in 1982 and if you remember it, you remember that it seemed so far away. You may also remember the iconic lyric: “…. two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of time." That’s because everyone was predicting the apocalypse when we hit 2000. Now it’s 2019 (how did that happen so quickly?) and we need to talk about 2026. To avoid ‘oops, out of time’ for our industry, let’s start getting you ready for 2026.
The year 2026 seems like an eternity from now, but as the adage says: “the days are long, but the years are short” and there is no time like the present to prepare for the future. Why should we talk about 2026? Because according to a recent article published in Restaurant Hospitality, by 2026 there will be a greater demand for waiters, food servers and cooks than registered nurses.
While this boom in the hospitality industry is exciting news, as a manager it is a bit daunting to think about how those positions will be staffed; especially since we are already struggling with the current low-employment job climate and gig economy as competition. Consider this: Uber was founded just 10 years ago, AirBnB was just 11 years ago, and Hello Fresh has been around only 8 years. Think about how just those three companies have disrupted their respective markets. Things are moving fast, so you have to think faster and get strategic – NOW! Pssst – 2026 is only 6.5 years away…..
Compounding the shrinking labor market are the changes in demographics: an aging baby boomer generation and millenials being the largest living demographic group. Millenials are notorious for not being very keen to work in service for myriad reasons, least of which is the demand of hours and lack of flexibility by some managers.
So, in the vein of (no nursing pun intended) strategic planning, we’ve put our heads together to come up with some forward-thinking ideas to help keep up with the hospitality boom.
Make Decisions Now to Become an Employer of Choice
I’ve been barking up this tree for several years because we are hearing about staffing and turnover struggles at every turn. Put some thought and consideration into your human capital plan:
Evaluate your organizational chart and job responsibilities – are they accurate for today’s needs?
Be crystal clear on who you are and why you want to hire (what type of person)
Identify the perks and benefits that attract and retain that type of recruit
Know what your competition is doing
Offering interesting and challenging work
Offer opportunities for growth and development
Recognize and appreciate employees
The hospitality industry is an ever-evolving industry and as a manager, staying aware of top trends is critical. The trends are being driven by how your members work and live – just think about urban living preferences of millenials; co-working spaces for the ‘gig’ workers; use of technology to connect, track, market, manage our homes, etc.; the ‘green movement’, and delivery services just to name a few.
One trend to keep top of mind is automation in clubs. The automation trend is one to keep an eye on as you prepare to train your staff in more efficient kitchen and ordering systems as everything from food preparation to order entry becomes more efficient. While you are considering automation, don’t forget about how to leverage technology in your club: beacon technology, apps, online ordering, kiosk ordering, vending options, kitchen management systems, virtual training and so much more are available and in use right there now and moving at a lightening pace. Remember, you are competing today with members who “Netflix and Chill” order dinner from UberEats, GrubHub or DoorDash or get a little crazy and cook at home with food delivered from Hello Fresh, Sun Basket or Blue Apron. Are you still having conversations about your burger price, adding quinoa to the menu or the pour size of wine? There are much bigger strategic conversations to be had right now to prepare you for the future.
Fish Where the Fish are Biting and Use the Right Bait
Do you know managers in your network that seem to always attract the ‘cream of the crop’ employees? Do you ever wonder how it is that they are always quick to find new employees as soon as they post a job opening? They are constantly recruiting with the mentality ‘we are always hiring good people’! Hiring the right people is what catapults a good club to a great club and those who excel at hiring often don’t simply rely on the resumes coming to them when a position is open, they are proactively networking and searching for potential employees to join their team. What moves you from a great club to a remarkable club is training and employee engagement.
Employees are your biggest assets in this Experience Economy. How much are you investing in them compared to your other assets? There is something to the cliché of ‘you get what you pay for’ – you cannot have five-star service and attract ‘cream of the crop’ employees if you are asking them to work at a three-star wage.
Find and Partner with a Trusted Ally
Managers are being tasked with more responsibilities and wearing more hats than ever before. Many of you are being asked to do this with limited resources and pressures on your time between work and life responsibilities. When you are tasked with constantly finding new talent in the face of a shrinking labor force it puts a strain on management; risking further turnover or decreased member satisfaction. No club wants to take the chance of losing members, thus decreasing net gain in memberships year to year. Clubs can stay ahead of the hiring curve by finding a trusted ally and partner with them to ensure that busy managers have qualified candidates at the ready when a position opens up. Once you make that great hire, it’s important that the successful candidate receives the training they need to succeed and grow in their position.
The boom in the hospitality industry is exciting news and hopefully it will bring great opportunities for the club industry too. We are eager to see the technology evolution, innovation and growth that come as a result. We look forward to taking this journey with you and helping our friends in the club and hospitality industry navigate toward a successful future.
Whitney Reid Pennell, president of the RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services) is a celebrated management consultant, educator and speaker. RCS, the creators of the Food and Beverage Boot Camp™, specialize in operations consulting, strategic planning, food and beverage management, and training programs.
For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCS website at www.consultingrcs.com.