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Challenges in the Foodservice Labor Market: Cost Cutting Tips

Challenges in the Foodservice Labor Market: Cost Cutting Tips


Last Published: 06/27/2017

Challenges in the Foodservice Labor Market: Cost Cutting Tips

The foodservice industry is a large and fast-growing sector of the economy and it currently employs nearly nine million people in food preparation and serving occupations.


However, the foodservice industry is struggling to come to terms with the realities of the current labor market. Labor costs are impacted by many factors, including turnover, increased minimum wage mandates, lapses in safety. These challenges span all segments of the industry and require new methods to solve them. Below are some ideas to help keep labor costs at bay.

  • Take time finding the right candidate: Whenever possible, hold out for the right person as this decision can help you save potential labor costs in two ways. First, the wrong candidate may not stick around, forcing you to repeat searches and training for another new team member. Second, a more highly experienced candidate will likely need less time in training and might bring new and helpful ideas to your operation, saving you time and money.

  • Build a roster of part-timers: Industry experts recommend maintaining at least a third of your front-line staffers as part-time employees. Retail businesses rely on the availability of part-time workers so that peak periods can have maximum staffing while allowing for staff levels to be reduced as demand wanes. Having additional staff to take up the slack when full-time workers are absent or approaching overtime is also a great way to avoid excessive overtime.

  • Cross-train your team: Cross-training is one of the most commonly cited labor cost-saving methods, and for good reason. Cross-training restaurant staffers is of great benefit to both your employees and your business. This allows management to schedule fewer staff while keeping your service standards where they should be. Cross-training allows your staff to not only develop new skills for themselves, but to see what a shift looks like from their teammates’ perspectives.

  • Plan your schedule: It is crucial to spend time with your schedule and be certain it is prepared based on anticipated sales and customer head counts. Staff members must fully understand how your schedules work from day one - that hours will be adjusted as business ebbs and flows. Again, having a cross-trained staff can help reduce employee frustration if there are uneven hours week to week.  A cross-trained server with reduced hours could pick up a bar shift or host shift, maintaining their income while you retain them as a valued employee.

  • Watch the clock: One of the most important duties of foodservice manager involves “watching the clock.” After every shift, the manager needs to make sure that all employees have punched in and out per the day’s schedule and with the correct job codes. Most point of sale (POS) systems allow you to monitor this information whenever needed and it should be checked daily to audit sales and adjust staff accordingly.


Entegra Procurement Services regularly publishes blog posts on food trends and innovations in food services. Entegra is more than a group purchasing organization (GPO): Our team of procurement specialists implement strategic sourcing to bring the most value to your business. We help our clients, in many segments ranging from the healthcare supply chain to restaurant supply, to cut costs and consolidate their portfolios.

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