Clean up your act with employees.

Fair Work is not going away, and the ‘informal’ wage arrangements that have been relied on in the past are coming back to bite many operators. Managers must now alert staff to their right to ‘casual conversion’ after 12 months. The unpaid overtime many chefs put up with is also becoming more problematic and is a key reason why they leave the industry. Hospitality wages in Australia are higher than other countries, but so is our cost of living — employees are not living the high life on what you pay them! Underpayments are now commonly referred to as ‘wage theft’ and it’s not what you want to be known for.

Genuine and consistent marketing.

Occasional or scrappy social media posts are no longer an option. Most of what your competitors do is lifeless: fancy plates, stylish bars, clever quotes and nothing much we relate to. Get out amongst your customers and take photos of them eating, drinking and enjoying themselves. Appoint some unofficial photographers from your staff (including the kitchen) and give them a quota of ‘happy snaps’ to collect each week for social media posts. Find a helper to post on social media or send out the newsletter you’ve been planning. There should be several lively updates on Facebook and Instagram every week without fail.

Embrace delivery.

Handing over 35 per cent to Uber Eats or Deliveroo doesn’t leave much left for you, but demand is soaring and delivery provides extra sales. Explore white-label apps such as OrderUp or Takeaway Solutions along with special deals with couriers such as Drive Yello. You could also consider creating your own app and install a dedicated window for takeaway.

Control the numbers.

Smart operators ensure they have instant access to sales, wages and purchasing data that they use every day. Low-cost technology is available and includes online bookkeeping, roster systems, payroll, a better POS that integrates with your accounts, ordering systems and booking apps. Feed them all into your Xero or MYOB accounting system — sales, purchasing and wages create a powerful dashboard. Don’t fear your numbers — bring them under your surveillance and control.

Simplify for efficiency.

What processes can be done more quickly with fewer phone calls, less moving parts and requirement for skilled staff? It’s not about dumbing down or going back to pen and paper. Simplify rostering with online systems such as Tanda and Deputy that provide more control and offer an instant review of wage costs. Simplify food costs with software such as Hospitality Genie or Cooking the Books which give you control of recipes, menus and ordering.

Design your business to be profitable.

Many businesses have maintained their profits by underpaying wages. If your concept or business model doesn’t work when you operate legitimately, it’s time for a hard look at what you’re planning for the future. Paying legal rates could push up your wage bill by 30 per cent. We’re a land of high rents and high wages — your re-imagined concept needs to take up less space, be more productive with staff, diversify the sales channels and have non-stop marketing. This will be your most challenging and rewarding project of the year!

[image]  Carlos Muza

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