Restaurant Staffing Apps
It happens to all restaurant owners: Ahead of one of the week’s busiest nights, half of your kitchen staff calls in sick, and you’re looking at a disaster. It’s too late to find replacements and you’re existing staff is stretched thin as it is. Only recently, you would have panicked, asked friends and relatives to pitch in (knowing full well that they’re inexperienced and unskilled), and kept your fingers crossed. Now, however, technology has stepped in and you can use any number of applications to fill in the gaps when employees fail to show up.
What’s a Restaurant Owner to Do?
Absenteeism, a problem across all industries, is even more prevalent in the hospitality industry. Absent employees create a major pain point for restaurants, cause significant disruptions, and often lead to sub-par experiences for patrons and guests. Employment problems in restaurants are twofold: it is hard to retain staff in an industry that is physically taxing and financially unrewarding; and staff members who fail to show up at the last minute can cause complete bedlam and lead to loss in revenues. Finally, there is a solution…
Pared To the Rescue
If your restaurant is successful and busy, you can’t afford to lose any of your workers even for one night. When you’re caught short-handed, service is affected, the stress level rises, and it affects everyone – diners and employees alike. Although this was once a good reason to freak out, now all you have to do is whip out your smartphone and open Pared – the application that supplies restaurant employees on demand.
Pared was launched in 2015 with the goal of becoming known as the Uber of the restaurant employment industry. Pared helps alleviate the chronic short-staffing many restaurants face – often at the last minute – by providing dishwashers and cooks on demand. In an article entitled, “Can Technology Save the Restaurant Industry,” David Lu, co-founder and president of Pared, explains, “We came up with a way to have experienced BOH [back of house] talent work at restaurants that need extra help … The restaurants love it, but more importantly, we are putting real money in the pockets of underpaid and underemployed restaurant workers. Cooks are able to have a flexible schedule and supplement their income doing what they love to do.”
The name Pared is a play on the word “paring” (as in the knife) and the act of pairing people together. They take a cut of the wage that a restaurant pays workers found through their app. In addition, if a restaurant finds a worker through Pared, and then wants to hire that worker full time, Pared gets a placement fee that ranges from $500 to $1,000. Not all the workers that Pared supplies are stellar employees but, says one restaurant owner, “Most fall into the middle range, doing the job adequately enough for us to keep using Pared.” The value of Pared is a two-way street, not only is it good for employers, it is also a big help to restaurant employees, particularly for those who value scheduling flexibility and want to keep a toe in the industry pool without committing to a full-time job.
Jobletics Helps Staff Restaurants
Jobletics is another program that addresses the high turnover rate in the restaurant industry and the fact that workers just fail to “show up” from time to time. Jobletics wants to change how restaurants stay fully staffed by becoming an online “temp agency” for the food business. Its online platform offers pre-qualified workers for different positions, helping restaurants in distress while giving workers more flexibility.
“Jobletes,” as workers who hire out through Jobletics are called, are able to take on shifts that fit into their schedule and their skillset, and they can choose which restaurant (or restaurants) they want to work for. When a restaurant is in need of, say, a line cook, to fill in missing staff, it can go to Jobletics, explain what they need, and choose from a number of qualified line cooks to fill in those shifts. After “Jobletes” complete a few training shifts at a restaurant, they can fill in shifts whenever the restaurant needs them. Jobletics’ platform can match the best worker to the job opening due to the company’s stringent hiring process. Having a rotating array of available and qualified workers means that restaurants don’t have to go through the lengthy process of finding, hiring and scheduling a part-time worker, which can be expensive and time-consuming.
Jobletics CEO Rahul Sharma says that his company is different from companies like Uber, which supply drivers and cars on demand, because Jobletics interviews each worker to assess his or her skill set, and because Jobletics is trying to create long-term relationships between workers and restaurants. “I know that quality is of paramount importance to these employers, and we have to make sure we have the vetting procedures in place so that we are only sourcing the best and brightest people,” says Sharma, adding that Jobletics rejects 90% of applicants. Like Pared, Jobletics makes its money by charging the restaurant a small percentage fee for every shift it fills.
Jitjatjo: As Easy as TicTacToe
In an article entitled, “This ‘Uber’ Of Staffing Apps Could Revolutionize the Hospitality Industry,” Forbes introduced Jitjatjo, a NYC-based app with more than 350 restaurants, and more than 4,000 workers. The app matches the best available employee to the available position, rather than leaving its workers to select available shifts. “We want to help both sides,” CEO Tim Chatfield said. “We want to help employers control the turnover issue, as well as help employees who love the industry to be able to have autonomy and accountability.”
According to Chatfield, Jitjatjo’s on-demand, temporary staffing platform helps restaurants deal with last-minute call outs and unexpected increases in demand. It can have staff on-site within an hour when the need is urgent, and can provide temporary staffing for scheduled events up to two months in advance. Restaurants are updated in real-time on the progress of their booking, and they can communicate with employees using the live chat feature. To reduce the burden for managers, Jitjatjo also handles all the HR responsibilities, including conducting interviews, coordinating background checks, compiling performance reviews, and tending to payroll.
Jitjatjo retains 15% of each booking total and handles W2 withholding taxes. When asked how Jitjatjo differs from other similar apps, Chatfield says that, unlike other on-demand staffing apps, Jitjatjo does not broadcast a job to groups of potential workers, as that results in rewarding the employee that is the fastest to claim the job, although he or she is not necessarily the best or most appropriate fit. Instead, Jitjatjo matches gigs with the most-appropriate worker for the job. “Platform intelligence and real-time availability enables Jitjatjo to rapidly analyze and select ‘the best’ available talent for each specific job and client,” says Chatfield. In order to compete with other on-demand staffing platforms, the company’s goal is to offer “the most frictionless and compelling solution available.”
Wonolo’s Staffing Solution
Wonolo, another mobile app that seeks to match workers with employers for temporary gigs, screens its workers carefully for desired character traits, says A.J. Brustein, cofounder and chief operating officer of the San Francisco-based company. Potential “Wonoloers” go through a three-step application process: they take a test via the app, they undergo a background check, and then they are interviewed in person. “We are more concerned with attitude over aptitude,” says Brustein.
Wonolo (an acronym for “Work, Now, Local”) was founded in 2014 specifically to supply workers to help keep Coca-Cola in stock on store shelves. It branched out into hospitality, and now serves the restaurant industry across the United States. It employs about 30,000 Wonoloers and works with some 700 employers. Among the advantages of Wonolo’s service is the fact that restaurants can communicate directly with the Wonoloers as soon as they accept a job, to verify they are right for the position.
Staffy Takes NY by Storm
New York hospitality workers who are eager to supplement their income and restaurants that need to boost their staffing, have a great resource in Staffy. Staffy is an app that connects restaurants, bars, and caterers with qualified workers to step in when these establishments find themselves short-staffed. The app, which successfully started operations in Canada, currently boasts hundreds of restaurant and thousands of workers in many U.S. locales. To date, thousands of shifts have been filled for jobs of all skill sets, from dishwashers to bartenders and everything in between.
Absenteeism “is by no means a new problem in the hospitality industry, but we are a new solution,” says Staffy CEO Peter Faist. “We’re providing great earning opportunities for hard-working people looking to make extra money, and at the same time helping to solve the ubiquitous issue of absenteeism in an industry where being short-staffed is always problematic.”
“We’re giving people with all levels of hospitality experience the chance to gain more experience while supplementing their income,” said Faist, “and we are connecting seasoned professionals with establishments who would be at a loss without them. It really is a win-win.”
Downside of Staffing Apps
Using temporary workers and the apps that facilitate the relationship between restaurants and fill-ins has its upsides and downsides. A permanent employee in a restaurant has the ability to cross-train on the job, improving the chances of moving up in the industry. That is less likely to happen when a worker is hired for the same position over and over, creating an employment rut of sorts. However, Jobletics offers free training for workers who want to learn new skills. If an experienced dishwasher, for example, is interested in becoming a line cook, Jobletics will help train them and place them in a line cook job at a restaurant (at a discounted rate for the employer).
Another major disadvantage of these apps is the lack of camaraderie that is the inevitable byproduct of temp work in general. Working for a restaurant (as a full-time employee) instead of at a restaurant (temporarily and doing shift work) fills an employee with a sense of team spirit and solidarity. Restaurants work hard to build a team that shares the vision of the owners; the staffing apps can’t supply that same fellowship. But that’s the price employees and employers pay in any industry for the convenience of using part-time or temporary workers who, at the very least, show up when they’re supposed to.
Fight Restaurant Absenteeism with Staffing Apps
Mobile-based staffing apps are rapidly gaining users in the hospitality industry where employment issues routinely give restaurant owners headaches and high blood. Restaurateurs are embracing these apps for their ability to secure qualified help quickly and easily. When a key staff member calls in sick, restaurant owners can just plug in what they need, and just a few hours later, a new, qualified worker shows up. It’s a huge help that has changed the face of restaurant employment everywhere.