Friday 15 May 2009

Crunch Advantage

Being a small business it is of course really scary with all this economic doom and gloom. It's still too early in the year to be sure how it's going to effect our season. We are naturally being a little cautious. We've cut back on staff a little and minimised any non essential investment.

My last post mentioned staff shortages. We have been one man down for a couple of weeks. That's one down on an absolute minimum, which clearly results in Ann and I having to work far more than we should, with the grumpy consequences. Grumpiness is not good for customer relations.

There is some good news. I get the impression that there are many businesses that are also cutting back on staffing. Bad news if you are looking for a job, but good news if you need to recruit. It would seem there is a more plentiful supply of suitable applicants.

We placed an advert in one of our usual locations. Normally we do eventually get somebody who makes a good contribution to the team, but often it takes a while and the quality of many of the applicants can be dubious. This time we were surprised at the increased number of quality people applying.

Because we employ seasonal staff we have had quite a few people through the payroll since we started here. Many have contributed very well to the place and helped us to get where we are. We have our moments with most. People, after all, are people. You know; "Forming, norming, storming and performing". A small number never make it past the "storming" phase. You can never be sure though, sometimes the best storms produce the best performances.

It's often the case that seasonal staff have other things to do before we're ready for them to go. Continuations of study, ski chalets to run or just the next leg of their around the world worked expedition. The constant changing staff structure gets a bit tiresome as we repeat our training program yet again.

With increased quality of applicants I'm feeling a little optimistic. Business might not be quite the boom of British tourism that was forecast, but it's not looking dire either. In fact, I think it's about the same as ever, but as I say, too early to tell. Better applicants for posts should result in a better staff team and therefore a better quality service.

This makes me think; The hospitality industry is generally low paid. During times of full employment, like we've had for a few years, it's tough for all hospitality businesses to employ quality staff. After all, who would want to work unsociable hours for relatively low pay1? I know that nearly every hospitality business person I've talked to says that their biggest problem is recruiting and retaining good staff. Perhaps this recession will help, if nothing else, to increase the quality within pubs as recruitment gets a little easier.

1One of the PubCo's responses to tenants who are struggling to make ends meet has been to suggest reducing the wages bill. This might of course be a reason why quality in pubs is falling. The quality of a pub is closely tied to the quality of the staff which in turn is closely linked to the amount they get paid.


Stonch said...

My last ad for staff on Gumtree garnered 400 responses. It's an employers' market.

Paul Garrard said...

It's interesting that hospitality jobs are probably seen as a last resort or desperation by many yet in a number of countries on the continent it is seen as a perfectly acceptable career.