Unfortunately this won’t be one of those exciting, providing solution articles but more of a personal experience, asking (the leaders) how did this happen….
Over the eight years I spent working in the industry for various companies, I have worked my way up the hospitality ladder and became General Manager for a small independent operator. This felt like a dream comes true as it’s been my ambition for all those years. I am sure this felt the same for many of my colleagues when they became GM’s for the very first time.
At the beginning, I couldn’t believe this has finally happened and I have worked even harder than before, putting work in front of everything and everyone (this seems to be just a norm and is being expected if you want to be successful in the eyes of company/owners in this industry) to achieve objectives set by the owners.
The restaurant was beautiful, serving upmarket, great quality food made from fresh ingredients. It is situated on the outskirts of the city in a slightly posher area with lots of big houses and nice cars. Business wise this was just perfect, providing lots of opportunities for me to explore and create a profit for the owners.
So what’s wrong with it?
Bullet points would probably do the job but I don’t think it would make it as colourful. It’s also very likely that my view is totally different to someone else or other manager and this depends in most cases on their superiors as well as many other aspects which would have to be taken into account.
Costs cutting –
Constant pressure to save wages when quiet is not healthy in the long run. Why? As an example, most restaurants have very little waiters/waitresses on the floor prior to school holidays. This forces management to work on the floor which in turn sacrifices their time which they should spend on recruitment and training of the new recruits before the upcoming business. This creates a domino effect and managers are being forced to work significantly more (obviously not being paid for it) to recruit as well as keep the standards high enough to pass any potential inspections. It is even not worth mentioning, to provide excellent customer service.
Senior management –
Ought to be wiser and understand the whole principle of operation and work as a mediator between those making decisions in the office and managers operating restaurants. This, in many occasion is not the case. It could be because of fear of repercussions if he or she was to stand up to their bosses. It could be that the BDM (business development manager) is very short sighted and chooses to focus on short term goals instead of looking at a bigger picture (this in turn could be caused by many factors; fear, being named and shamed to name few) to get their bonus. Many factors affect their decisions and there is a lot to loose.
General Manager is tied and in majority of cases, doesn’t have a full autonomy. Directions come from Area Manager/BDM and it’s very difficult to stand up to those commands, especially in the early days when you are trying to find your feet. Constant pressure to save wages is immense and forces entire management team to work as barman’s, waiters/waitresses taking away precious time which could be used on generating new business, recruitment, training and admin tasks in general. There are managers who like this though and on the other hand in theory at least ensures customer get a better experience.
Hospitality is not really treated seriously enough, by those wanting to work there. Most likely it’s caused by low income, affecting front of house in particular. Flexible hours don’t necessarily provide regular income and often reliable and hardworking staff are being used to work extra shifts and work more difficult sections because they are capable of doing it.
For those who might think that this is just the nature of the industry, Financial Times has an answer. ” The challenges in the dining sector are partly the result of an overcrowded market. The past few years have seen many chains bought by private equity groups in order to be scaled up. But, having expanded quickly, they must now compete with each other as well as with food delivery apps such as Deliveroo.”
I am sure that if this was really treated with customer and staff in mind and not only profits for those at the top this would have been a very interesting career to pursue.
Some interesting facts about top hospitality companies;
HL (Hargreaves Lansdown) – ” Greene King has a great track record of dividend growth. Since CEO Rooney Anand took the reins in 2005, turnover and dividends per share have doubled. In fact, strip out the impact of a tax-related rescheduling of dividends in 2008/09 and the pay out hasn’t been cut in more than two decades.”
I understand that jobs are provided for many people and that the companies constantly invests however on the other hand I don’t think that wages for those working extremely hard, providing excellent service increased as much as dividends have.
HL (Hargreaves Lansdown) – about Whitbread – April 2018 “Alongside full year results, which saw revenues rise 6.1% to £3.3bn and underlying operating profits rise 5% to £622m”
With profits in most cases, constantly rising I don’t understand why working environment is getting tougher and tougher. Please feel free to comment.