Restaurants See Continued Job Growth but Have Trouble with Turnover

The summer months have brought both successes and troubles for the restaurant industry.

After a rough winter, sales have begun to bounce back, rising 0.3 percent during the second quarter of 2014. Although this is an improvement on the first quarter, there is still some concern that there are still not enough guests coming in.

Despite this worry, jobs continue to grow steadily in the restaurant industry. Growth was at 3.5 percent in May, marking the seventh consecutive month of over 3 percent job growth for restaurants.

Unfortunately, turnover continues to be a significant problem in the case of both hourly workers and managers. Rising vacancies in the third quarter or 2013 has led to some employment pressure this summer.

Employers looking for reliable staff can turn to Shiftgig, where they can look through hundreds of thousands of candidates to find exactly who they need for their restaurant. Posting a job is free, and it is easy to search through profiles of qualified candidates.

Join Shiftgig today to avoid hiring problems.

Source: nrn.com

Shiftgig Grows as Part of a New Economic Ecosystem

It’s traditional logic to say that businesses will sprout up in places where large companies have taken root. It’s been a common pattern in a growing economy as small businesses arise to support the larger one. However, a new trend is coming forth: small businesses are building their own economic ecosystems. Creating communities that form a network of resources, startups are blossoming in unexpected places.

Chicago has been one of the breeding grounds for this new style of business community. Shiftgig itself has been a prime example of this model. Not only did Shiftgig grow among other small tech startups, but as a job network and community for the service industry, it also supports small businesses in the restaurant, retail, and hospitality sectors. Shiftgig is leading the way as a leader in this new kind of network.

You can read more about small business clusters at Forbes.

Shifting into the Bullpen: How Eddie Lou and Jeff Pieta’s Shiftgig is helping to grow their Bullpen

By Thomas Miller

Eddie Lou and Jeff Pieta had already started Shiftgig, a successful networking company for the restaurant and hospitality industry, when the idea for Bullpen was born.

Shiftgig is a networking site that connects job hunters in the restaurant and hospitality industries with opportunities.(A la linkedin.) In its two year life span it signed up 750,000 works and 17,500 bars, restaurants and other service industry business. Their free to use model, however, still left a need for revenue generation. They were working on solving this problem when one of their clients asked them a question that helped to birth Bulllpen.

Blue Plate Catering, which was already using Shiftgig to recruit full time workers, wanted to know if there was ever going to be an option to use Shiftgig to find temporary workers for events. A light bulb went on and fireworks exploded. Traditional staffing companies hire full time workers to staff their events, and most companies are limited by their social circles. Using Shiftgig, Pieta and Lou realized they could leverage their labor pool far more effectively than companies relying only on people they knew.

“We can assemble workers who are supplementing their employment but who are not interested in working for traditional temp agencies,” Mr. Pieta says. “A big problem in events is finding enough people when you need them.”

Using Shiftgig, they were able to find the people. Bullpen has signed up over 1,000 people in Chicago, and is currently launching an office in New York. The model works because it allows workers  to pick up shifts on their own schedules, when they need cash or have some free time.

Shiftgig is able to make money by charging the same as other staffing companies, but cutting its overhead using technology. “You’d be surprised how much of the staffing industry is still done manually, scheduling by phone, filling out forms, then having someone re-enter that information into a computer,” he said. “We hired someone from a traditional staffing agency who said it takes them four to six hours to process an employee. We think we can get that down to about half an hour.”

By improving the technology across the board, Bullpen, and in turn Shiftgig, believe that they can change the face of staffing.

Shiftgig Community Survey Shows Bar and Nightlife Industry Workers Seek Deeper Engagement with Beer and Spirits Brands

Chicago, IL – January 8, 2013 Shiftgig, the premier online community for the service industry, announced today the results from its nationwide member survey, which indicated that a strong majority of bartenders, servers and bar managers are not only influenced by beer and spirits brand marketing, but also welcome it.

The survey, which was distributed to Shiftgig’s community of service industry professionals, showed that 94% of bartenders, servers and bar managers are more likely to personally use and recommend to their business customers those beer and spirits brands that actively engage with them. Moreover 82% responded that they wanted engaging, entertaining and educational content from beer and spirits brands.

“Beer and spirit brand engagement with the service industry is proving not only effective but desired,” said Eddie Lou, CEO of Shiftgig. “Due to the influential nature of industry professionals, building brand awareness on a popular platform like Shiftgig gives marketers an opportunity to reach an exponentially greater audience.”

With over 650,000 user profiles and more than 15,000 businesses posting job listings, Shiftgig provides the largest platform in the United States for enabling engagement between beer and spirits brands and the service industry. For information on how your brand can engage with the influential bar and nightlife industry on Shiftgig.com, contact Matt Richards at mrichards@shiftgig.com.

Additional survey findings included the industry’s preferred themes for content delivery, which were ranked in the following order: 1) information about new brand product launches, 2) educational opportunities about beer and spirits brands, 3) monthly online contests, 4) video that brings a brand to life and 5) promotion of brand-sponsored local events.

About Shiftgig

Shiftgig is the service industry network, the premier online community where members connect with each other and businesses to access informative and funny content, jobs, and industry deals.  With over 650,000 registered members and 15,000 businesses, Shiftgig has become the largest online destination for the restaurant, nightlife, hotel and retail verticals. For more information about Shiftgig, visit www.shiftgig.com.

Get paid to surf the social web and find awesome content – Shiftgig’s Content Curator program

You may have noticed that Shiftgig has been getting much more involved in our community of service industry people through our Facebook and community pages (www.shiftgig.com/articles). The key has been high quality content generated by our awesome partners in the social sphere like Ask the Bartender and The Bitchy Waiter.

Well, it’s your lucky day because we are taking it up a notch by implementing our Shiftgig Curator program. As a Shiftgig curator, you would be paid per piece to help us find funny/interesting/informative content that would be relevant to our audience from across the social web.

That’s right: you would get paid to surf on social media! Even better, you will have the ability to link your social accounts to your own channel on Shiftgig and increase your personal following as a result.

What does it take to become a Shiftgig Curator? We are looking for awesome, tech savvy people with excellent writing skills and the ability to spot highly shareable content. We will provide training and materials to help you along the way, but you should have some way of demonstrating that you understand social media and principles of engaging content creation.

If you are interested in applying to become a curator, please send us an application with the following in PDF form to thegoods@shiftgig.com:

  • Links to your social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, etc). The bigger following you have, the better!
  • A couple paragraphs explaining why you would be an awesome content curator for Shiftgig. Ideally you have worked in the service industry before and really understand our audience.
  • 2 examples of curated content that you would submit to Shiftgig. In these examples, include a catchy headline and short blurb about what that content is
    • We strongly prefer images, charts, infographics, and videos over text-heavy content

Shiftgig Adds Emerson Spartz to Advisory Dream Team and Launches Social News and Entertainment Platform for the Service Industry

Chicago, IL – December 12, 2013 Shiftgig, the professional networking and employment community for the service industry, announced today that Emerson Spartz has joined the company as an advisor. Spartz, the CEO and founder of Spartz Inc., is best known for founding MuggleNet at the age of 12, a Harry Potter fan site that attracted 50 million monthly page views soon after it launched. In related news, Shiftgig has redesigned its site and hired a team of hilarious, insightful writers to provide social news and entertainment specifically devoted to the service industry to complement its job searching platform.

“Emerson has a track record of generating viral growth in communities, and we’re thrilled to bring him on to the Shiftgig team,” said Eddie Lou, CEO of Shiftgig. “Shiftgig has quadrupled in size since this time last year, and we expect this growth to continue. Ultimately, we want our audience to find industry information and fun content as well as job opportunities.”

Spartz, who famously dropped out of middle school prior to creating MuggleNet, also founded sites such as OMG Facts, Unfriendable and smartphOWNED. Today he publishes 18 unique websites and apps that attract over 160 million page views each month.

“I really like the Shiftgig marketplace and how it is helping people find jobs.  There is a lot of opportunity to provide other value-added features to this audience,” said Spartz.

Spartz joins a Shiftgig advisory team that includes Ken Pelletier, former CTO of Groupon; Brian Spaly, founder and CEO of Trunk Club; and Sam Yagan, founder of OKCupid.

In addition to providing a platform for networking and finding jobs, Shiftgig’s new community pages, The Goods, will offer articles that are fun, informative and inspirational. Already the largest service industry community, over 600,000 people have created profiles on Shiftgig to connect with each other, find better employment and be entertained.

About Shiftgig

Shiftgig is the professional networking and employment community for the hospitality industry, facilitating connections between employers and candidates. It simplifies the hiring process by matching meaningful candidate profiles with job openings so both sides get better results quickly. Shiftgig also provides the latest information on industry news, events and deals. The company currently operates in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. For more information about Shiftgig, visit www.shiftgig.com.

Reinvent Your Employee Scheduling from When I Work

6 day course on how to “Reinvent Your Employee Scheduling” from our partner, When I Work

We are slaves to our schedules. At home it can be juggling appointments, soccer games, family dinners, and maybe a few hours to sleep. At work, your schedule can be even more overwhelming—and just like at home, you probably aren’t only worrying about yourself.

All of us have our own lives, our own drama, and our own worlds to worry about in addition to work—and often, schedules falls by the wayside. Managers, in particular, face this challenge when it comes to finding employees who can cover missed shifts, illnesses or other personal crises that arise.

As a result, your schedule is never really solidified until the shift starts. Things come up, life gets in the way, and changes get made. If you don’t have a solid scheduling system in place, you and your employees will find yourselves in over your heads.

You’ll Never Not Need a Schedule

If you’re employing human beings, you’re always going to be dealing with the challenges of ever-changing schedules—it’s just part of running a business. What you can control is the power that you give your schedule. You have the ability to take control of outdated systems, poor communication, and the anxiety that comes along with maintaining full shifts.

I’d like to invite you to a free 6 day course on “How to Reinvent Your Employee Scheduling”. Over the six days, we walk through how real businesses deal with the common, everyday scheduling problems all managers face. This crash course will give you strategies needed to help you take control of your schedule and make it work for your company.

To get started, register here to see how a small coffee shop in St. Paul, MN shaved hours off their weekly scheduling time, gave employees 24/7 access to their schedules, and increased overall productivity.

-Chad Halvorson

CEO When I Work

Employer Dashboard – Rebuilt from the Ground Up

Shiftgig launched in early 2012 and since then we’ve made big improvements to many areas of our site in terms of speed, functionality and usability.  One area that hasn’t received much love until now was the Employer Dashboard.  Since our launch we have received a lot of feedback from employers and learned a great deal about the needs of typical service industry employers.  The new dashboard incorporates several items asked for by Shiftgig employers.

I’m very excited to announce the following features but many more improvements are still coming in future releases.

Multi-Post

Now employers can post the same job across multiple businesses and cities in a single step.  This saves a great deal of time for chains, franchise, regional HR managers and anyone else that runs multiple locations.

We also took that 1 step further and allow user to tag multiple job positions in a job posting, which saves time for hiring managers of any size business.  We found many employers were using the headline or description to target multiple positions like “Bartenders, Hostesses and Servers Wanted” but our platform only allowed 1 term to be selected from the job position drop down.  Now, adding multiple positions will better target the jobs to our users and provide better rankings for applicants in the ATS.

Multi-Location Management

When Shiftgig first launched we envisioned this as a tool for the individual operators.  However, multi-location employers soon began to register and the UI wasn’t as friendly to them as it should have been.  Today’s release includes a Location Management tab to quickly see all of the locations in the account and statistics for each.

Better Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Reviewing, ranking and sorting applicants is fast and simple.  You can add applicants to a favorites list for that posting, remove them from the list, message them, or mark them as hired.  Once you have selected a handful of favorites for the opening you can filter the view and show only those to make follow up more efficient.  We’ve also introduced an additional way to view your applicants as a photo gallery.

Updated List View

New Pane View

Social Media Sharing Tools

Reaching out to your existing employees and followers on social media is another great way to hire.  Employers using Shiftgig asked for a better way to promote on social media and we have provided that in the new dashboard.

When viewing a list of jobs there are now options to Share on Twitter or Facebook and any applicants through those channels will appear in the ATS with everyone else.

More Coming Soon

We’re not done improving the employer dashboard!  We have several additional upgrades planned in the coming weeks.  Thanks for using Shiftgig!

NEW TAX RULING IMPACTS RESTAURANT TIPPING

Starting January 2014, an updated IRS Tax ruling from 2012 will force restaurants to reclassify automatic large party group tips as regular wages, subject to payroll tax withholding.   This could result in added costs and administrative paperwork for restaurants, a potential financial hit for waiters and waitresses who live on their tips, and possibly impact service levels for customers.

Will this affect automatic tipping?   Absolutely.

The new tax ruling reclassifies automatic gratuities as a service charge instead of a standard tip.   The tip is treated like a regular wage; restaurants are subject to withhold payroll tax, and servers have to declare that money.

Darden Restaurants, who owns 2,100 restaurants across the country, is testing the elimination of an automatic 18% tip on bills of 8 or more people.  It is trying out a new system at about 100 restaurants that suggest 15, 18 or 20% tips on all bills, regardless of size.    This change means that customers will get to decide how much they tip instead of a flat amount.

In my conversations with independent restaurant owners, many of them are likely to follow suit and eliminate automatic tipping given the additional record-keeping and payroll costs.

Will this affect 2.3 million waiters and waitresses working in the US?  Likely.

Tips to wait-staff are a critical supplement to their salary, which oftentimes is less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and sometimes as low as the “tipped minimum wage” of $2.13 per hour set by Congress in 1991.  The National Restaurant Association says that most servers earn well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour when tips are included.

For the server, if the restaurant continues with an automatic group tip, it means that servers will receive less cash at the end of the workday.   In addition, servers will likely have to pay more taxes year-end.as group tips will likely be reported.

If restaurants do indeed eliminate the automatic tip, the tip amount is at the whim of the customer.  In some cases, tips may be less than 15%-20%, and service staff might feel short-changed.

On the other hand, one server says, “ I have been a server for 25 plus years and can honestly say I get a better tip when no gratuity is added.”

Will this affect the customer?  Possibly.

The institution of tipping servers is a complex one.   In many countries tipping is not the norm and sometimes frowned upon.  In the US tipping is common practice.   Americans have embraced tipping because it seems positive to all parties.   Servers make good money, much of it cash and much of that unreported on tax returns.  Restaurant owners save on labor costs and payroll taxes.  Customers generally believe that bigger tips bring better service.

Hopefully, this IRS ruling does not lead to a decrease in US service levels.  Having said that, it is important to recognize that tips really are a part of a server’s wage, and not just a bonus.    As a customer, be cognizant of the challenges of serving large parties and your tip should reflect those challenges.

While there are many arguments for and against tipping from a customer’s point of view, I have to speak from my brief experience in the service industry.   Treat your wait-staff how you want to be treated.   These men and women work really hard for your tips.  Yes, they can make a lot on a busy weekend, but not always.   How much tip would you want to receive if you were in their shoes?

Our Employers Pay Higher than National Averages

Shiftgig has conducted a survey of its employers on compensation and wages, and the results show a favorable report for Shiftgig employers and their staffs. Bartenders and wait staff regularly see wages, hourly plus tips, that are 30% over the national averages for service industry jobs. Compensation for cooks are also competitive, with over 70% of employers paying above the national average hourly wage. Over 90% of employers believe that their wages are on par or better than the rest of the industry, a standard that encourages a trend towards fair compensation for service industry workers.

When asked why they think staff choose to stay with an employer, an overwhelming majority at 43.4% say it comes down to good management. Better tips are another strong factor with 20.75% of employers citing that reason for staff retention.

See below for the entire results of the survey. Watch next month for the results of our Shiftgig user compensation survey to see how the results below compare.