It may be a cliché but the hospitality sector is without doubt a people industry and that means both the customers you deal with day-to-day and the staff you manage and need to enthuse.
Given that economic growth has recently been revised down and operators and consultants were already predicting a tough year’s trading ahead, before the news VAT will rise to 20 per cent in January, now is not the time to allow standards to slip within your business.
By taking the time to inspire and lead your staff you can also make a significant difference to the industry’s Achilles heel, its appalling staff retention rate, boosting productivity and saving you plenty of cash in the process.
State of the Nation
The latest State of the Nation Report, published last month by Sector Skills Council People 1st, showed the necessity of this, with the research suggesting the skills crisis blighting the hospitality industry was getting worse.
People 1st’s research revealed that 26 per cent of businesses within hospitality employ staff they view as not fully proficient in their jobs – equivalent to 180,000 people. This compares with 19 per cent, or 140,000 people working within the sector, two years ago.
Worryingly it also comes despite the fact that hospitality spends £2,575 per employee on training a year, compared to the average across all industries of the economy of £1,725.
With the worse staff retention rate of any UK industry, at 31 per cent in 2009, pubs, bars and restaurants are spending a tremendous amount of energy and money simply plugging the gap left by those leaving, which is not very inspiring at all.
The ability to engage and excite staff is a key leadership skill and shouldn’t cost the earth, but certainly will hurt your business’s bottom line if you fail to do so.
Nando's and its commitment to its workforce
Want proof? Well David Niven, the managing director of Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For winner Nando’s, puts the chain’s success during the recession squarely down to the company’s commitment to its workforce.
He told BigHospitality’s sister title Restaurant Magazine earlier this year that “we’ve succeeded by having 6,500 people fully committed to what we were doing and understanding what we were doing".
“We invest a huge amount of money in looking after our guys at all levels,” said Niven. “We have a very powerful social culture within the business, which helps managers bond teams together. We have a very low turnover of managers. We keep people. That means we have people in the restaurants who know what they’re doing.”
It has enabled the company to open 15 new restaurants in the UK last year bringing its tally to 243 despite the recession, and there are plans for 20-plus openings in 2010 so the recipe appears to be working.
Consistency is key
David Hennigan of the Crown at Whitebrook and the Academy of Food and Wine’s 2010 UK Restaurant Manager of the Year puts it another way.
“People need to be lead well. If they’re not customers see inconsistency in the product, inconsistency in your business and are therefore unlikely to return. If you look at those businesses that are successful and those that fail there’s a clear parallel in regards good leadership that can be drawn,” he says.
All this week BigHospitality will be taking a look at how you can inspire your employees within different operational areas of your business, be they front of house, kitchen or bar workers, in our Special feature on inspiring your team.