I work between 60 and 70 hours a week. I'm not always the most efficient I could be with my time. Often when I'm supervising staff and available to answer questions or provide guidance I'm not being as productive as I could be with my administrative work.It is difficult for me to stay on top of all the record keeping that I do to track sales, inventory and finance. I'm fortunate that my POS system tracks a lot for me, including employee hours. Still, I need to make a schedule every week to reflect the needs of an ever shifting work-force and the shifting demands of the market.
The staff person who works consistently over 35 hours a week, often over 40, is our dishwasher Missy, who has stepped up to doing prep and setting up for service several days a week. I'm so impressed with how much she has learned and how much responsibility she's accepted since the big kitchen turnover started happening over the past few weeks. I've got 3 new guys in the kitchen now who seem poised to stay a while. Mike and Sean aren't looking for more than 20 hours a week, and Kevin looks to be a new full-time prep and line cook.
I'm going to run a short tangent from my "resources" story to talk about how Kevin came into Austin Cantina, and what it means to me. I tend to develop. maintain and keep fairly positive relationships with quality staff, even after they move on. Being a boss who is "loved" has never been a particular goal of mine, but I continue to be surprised by the impact I have on folks who work for me. Kevin was referred by Jay, who worked for me before working for Clark (another alum) at the Balmar. When things fell apart in the Balmar kitchen Jay sent Kevin to the Cantina for a job. He's been great! Within the past few weeks I've also seen 2 other past employees, from when I managed technology in San Francisco, came into the restaurant for dinner. Each was traveling to Seattle for a different reason, but each made the effort to come out and be supportive of my business and to make contact with me socially. I'm not sure what I'm doing right, but I'm feeling very lucky to have made a positive impact on so many good people.
Training new staff is difficult, it is time consuming, and it keeps me from much of the administrative work that I need to do. It also keeps me behind looking at trends and managing the business (as opposed to managing the staff). Our dinner business has been slow on weeknights lately, so we don't need to bring any of the line-cooking staff in before 2:00 a couple days a week. I no longer need to be in the restaurant much before then myself a couple days a week. Of course if we serve lunch on weekdays, I need both a kitchen person and a server in by 11:00. I can be one of those people, but I'd need to pay someone else.
Now I need to determine what needs to happen in order for serving lunch to be worthwhile, how much volume we need to do to justify having staff in a couple hours early, to keep me from doing my administrative and accounting work. My modest goal was to average about $100.00 a day at lunchtime. That would allow for a 30% labor cost if I pay one person minimum wage ($8.07/hr in WA)for just under 4 hours work (3 hours of service plus about 45 minutes of set-up/breakdown). Now that accounts for zero pay for me, and it does take me away from work that is far more valuable to the company than minimum wage.
Last week we didn't serve lunch while I was training new staff. I discovered that I got a lot more done than I did when we served lunch. I also reviewed sales over the past month. In the last 4 weeks that we served lunch there wasn't even one week that averaged $100 in sales Monday through Friday at lunch, so until evening business picks up, and I need to have staff in earlier, lunch will continue to be on hiatus.
I need to evaluate how much my 60 hours a week is worth, and how long I will continue to commit that time to this business without any meaningful compensation. The restaurant is doing "OK" business-wise, but not enough pay me what I need to fulfil my financial commitments to my home and family. I'm feeling burnt out a lot of the time. I expect that will pass when I have well trained kitchen staff, but it won't pay my home mortgage. There are no 2 ways around the fact that we need more business Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings in order to survive the winter. If you want to make a positive impact and help keep a locally owned business that treats employees fairly and respects the environment afloat, please come spend money on a weeknight.
If you are a regular, what can we do to bring you in more often on weeknights? Comments are open