Can the Gig Economy Help Your Restaurant?
As COVID-19 slows, restaurants are experiencing labor shortages. Even though restrictions have lifted, thus allowing them to reopen, they don’t have the staff necessary for all their pre-pandemic hours. As a result, some businesses are turning to the gig economy to fill up their staff list.
What Is the Gig Economy?
The term refers to the freelance or contract worker community. Rather than hire and struggle to retain full- or part-time workers, some restaurants started looking for a more convenient (and less expensive) method. You might immediately think of companies like Uber or Postmates; those drivers are part of the gig economy. Better pay, treatment and freedom is the tradeoff for less stability and traditional benefits, so you may find workers there when you’re struggling to find them elsewhere.
There are tradeoffs for your restaurant, too. It makes sense to want flexible workers that only get paid for one specific task. If you set up your own delivery system and hire freelance couriers, they’re paid per delivery and not the time spent waiting around for orders to come in.
Photo courtesy of eatOS
Why It Appeals to Restaurants
When you don’t have to pay for overtime or downtime spent waiting for more business, you cut down on some labor expenses. That’s why hiring gig economy delivery drivers may be a good alternative to partnering with third party platforms. However when it comes to servers, gig workers may not be as good of a choice.
You could also hire gig economy workers on a probationary period, with the potential to get hired full-time. Having a few freelancers you can call also helps if someone suddenly calls out or quits on the spot, until you can fill the full-time position. The flexibility of the gig economy has the potential to really help you out in a tough spot. Meanwhile, your regular staff gets the occasional day off so they’re not overburdened with long shifts. These contracted employees also have different taxes associated, which are generally cheaper for your business.
Cons of the Gig Economy
Nonetheless, restaurants haven’t switched to contract workers en masse for a reason. There are downsides, too. Since contract workers set their own schedules and often demand slightly higher pay as the tradeoff for less stability and long-term benefits, they’re less flexible to last-minute changes. Also, anytime someone has face-time with your customers but are technically unaffiliated with your brand, there’s potential for displeasure. They could misrepresent your business; meanwhile, they’re concerned with receiving the same on-the-job protections and appreciation as payroll employees. When you work together, though, the gig economy has the potential for great success.
Should Your Restaurant Start Hiring?
There’s no right or wrong answer about whether full-time or gig economy workers are right for restaurants overall. Instead, the best option may end up being a little bit of both. Consider what will positively affect your bottom line, business model and the rest of your staff. Long-term success means finding long-term solutions, not just cutting corners to pay a few less taxes per year, especially if you’re not making it up in revenue.
Instead, it may be more sustainable to invest in good employees who you can mentor through their professional careers. Teach them how to succeed in their positions, and they can apply it in real-time just the way you want. The best restaurant staff works well together and has a good enough rapport to function smoothly. Smart Point of Sales streamline their communication and can pick up on “problem” areas in the flow of operations.