Wage and Salary guidelines for a restaurant? In the words of Billy Kelly, "Are you kiddin´me?" Why would we want to do that was the first question I heard when I proposed the idea to an owner a few weeks back. The answer is simple: to begin to build a structure that serves as the foundation for growth. In the culinary world of complexities, any structure that can be developed to ward off the demons of dysfunctionality will be appreciated in the long term. One of the apparent reasons for failing in the restaurant business is the lack of acumen or experience in the day to day operation of running the back of the house show. The front of the house is easy by comparison. I commented recently to a fellow restaurateur on how hard he worked at being successful in the business with his five unit chain. He said that he wasn´t successful and that the presumed failure bothered him for a long time.But, he didn´t fail. He built a small chain, worked hard, developed an organization that was as efficient as it could be, and eventually realized that the return on his hard work and investment was miniscule. And, I am sure he didn´t have wage and salary guidelines.
Today it is even more difficult than it once was to make a decent profit in the business. With the massive influx of corporations into the marketplace, small, single unit owners have a much tougher task than ever before. But just because you don´t have the backing of a major food corporation doesn´t mean you can´t build a respectable corporate styled structure with organization, integrity, and employee needs and well being in mind.
Restaurants survive on good food, fabulous service, and great numbers. And, they all interact. You can´t expect to get good service from under paid employees. You can at first, but then they wake up to what is really going on.
The majority of restaurant owners shoot from the hip when it creating salary packages offered to employees. What do you think we can get that person for? How much do does he want? What was she making at her last job? We have all asked these questions in the middle of the mental calculations performed as we attempt to justify the hiring of a new employee. The worst scenario is, however, "We don´t need to give him all that, he was only making $22,000.00 at Rubicon. See if we can get him for less." And, of course the worst of all scenarios is the in company promotion. Just because a person is moving from one job to another, it is important to make sure that they receive the adequate wages for the new job rather than calculating how much they will be getting in the new position and deciding that is "too much of a raise."
I´ve done. You´ve done it. We have all done it. And, payroll roulette is a terrible game to play and will assuredly backfire over time. But with the data available on the Internet, everyone can see the standard wage and salary guidelines. There are a plethora of Internet sites that broadcast a jobs criteria and pay scale. Although many owners still feel that this is not for them, it is for everyone, including the potential employee. And since the job candidate can see the average wages in your area, they will know immediately what type of company you are running by the wages you are offering.
The salaries you offer, and pay, are like tea leaves to the nice lady in the store front on Union Street who will read them for you for you for a sawbuck. They tell more than you probably want people to know about what is going on in the back of the house. Low salaries announce to the job-searching-public that the company may be in dire straits. Or that the owner doesn´t appreciate his employees. It raises questions as to whether the owners are hoarding the cash if the restaurant is busy and immediately signals that staff changes will be frequent if the restaurant isn´t pulling in the revenue needed.
Wage and salary guidelines also enable smart owners to budget, analyze the true cost of doing business, and to grasp whether the operation will ever be financially successful. If under paid chefs, cooks, and managers are all an element in your game plan equation, you have to ask yourself the real question. Will my business ever make a profit?
So the next time you need to hire someone, go to your wage and salary guideline book and see where the job you need to fill falls. If you don´t have a book, make one this weekend. It´s simple, the information is on the Internet. And, nobody says that you have to live by the published guidelines, but remember- If you aren´t in the ballpark you can´t hit a home run.