The holiday season is undoubtedly one of the busiest periods for the hospitality industry. But it is not the only one: Winterlicious, Valentine’s day, Mother’s day, Patio season, Easter – you name it! Whether you’re a small restaurant, large bar or busy caterer, you’re acutely aware that ‘tis often the season for food, drink and merriment, and there is no doubt you are trying to survive the storm of seasonal staffing.
While it’s never bad to be busy, the seasonality for the hospitality industry presents unique challenges not faced by other industries experiencing an increase in traffic. This is particularly true when it comes to staffing.
In retail, you’ll be busy on Black Friday, swamped every Saturday, and in crisis Christmas Eve. You can project sales figures, anticipate product demand, and rely on a myriad of information and insight about the labour market.
There’s a predictability that ensures calm during the chaos. Conversely, if there’s one word that could summarize the hospitality industry during the holidays, it would be “unpredictable.”
Sick servers, last-minute bookings, wild winter weather – risk runs rampant when it comes to hospitality and seasonal staffing needs. Even worse, a comprehensive strategy can be elusive for businesses that don’t have the budget for a tech-savvy HR team who can wrangle workers from Workopolis or Indeed.
One solution that’s been gaining popularity in the industry is smartphone apps, such as Canadian start-up and industry leader: Staffy. Rather than relying on the traditional model of searching sites for staff, these new recruitment apps have created a revolutionary concept that curates a list of skilled contractors by providing them with their own sellers’ marketplace.
This approach offers unique benefits to businesses looking to thrive in the hectic holiday period by addressing Solutions for Short-term Staffing Sanity: Skills, Scaling and Scheduling.
According to Restaurants Canada, 43% of restaurant owners report being unable to secure skilled labour. This stark reality is compounded during the high-demand holidays. Apps such as Pineapple minimize concerns about skills and qualifications in short-term staffing solutions. Each and every contractor is extensively vetted, including an interview, resume review and references, to ensure their skills are up to snuff.
In addition, a unique characteristic of hospitality staffing apps is they often work around a contractor’s self-set schedule, meaning most individuals with companies like InstaHire are immersed in the industry full-time…even if their “traditional” hospitality day job can only accommodate part-time hours: a very common characteristic of the current labour market. Like knives, skills have to be honed to stay sharp.
Finally, an app-based hospitality marketplace easily lends itself to quality control mechanisms such as individual ratings and reviews that simply aren’t possible in the antiquated staffing agency model.
Many industries plan their staffing needs months in advance based on projections. In the hospitality game, that’s often just not possible or financially impractical, especially for owner-operator enterprises. Keeping someone on staff in September because they might be needed for a company Christmas party in December is a pretty good way to ensure your New Year is anything but happy.
Whether you’re staffing up for a holiday soiree, or just having a busy dinner service, app-based hospitality marketplaces allow you to allocate resources based on demand that day, maximizing efficiency and minimizing dead weight.
In addition, most staffing apps cover you no matter where you need to scale up your staff, front-of-house or back-of-house.
Allocating resources based on same-day demand isn’t lip service. For hospitality apps, the standard can be quite literal – for example, Staffy says it can usually fill a majority of shifts in about 90 minutes.
Furthermore, scheduling staff is as simple as a swipe of your smartphone. Users select the skill they need, set a start time and end time, then hit ‘Broadcast.’ Any interest is flagged with a notification and clients can review the profiles of the staff they select.
However, while all apps touts their technology, they’re inherently aware that hospitality is a human industry. “Similar products rely solely on the app to match skills and shifts,” says Peter Faist, founder and CEO of Staffy. “We pride ourselves on the fact that if you’re not comfortable with the app, you can still get a live voice on the phone to schedule your shifts. It’s a service-based industry and we’re a service-focused app.”
So, it doesn’t matter if the weather outside is frightful or delightful. Nor does it matter if it’s an hour to start time and your line cook is sick. Mother’s Day, New Year’s Day or any day of the year, the solution to your staffing needs may already be in the palm of your hand!