New rules, regulations and procedures are being foisted on the restaurant industry—and not always by government. Emerging internal pressures have the potential to shake up operations. From trends in staff habits to new technological realities, some of the influences we’re tracking at Restaurant Business could pressure operators to change or face the wrath of consumers and employees. Here are three that will be in focus this month.
1. Phraseology: 'shadow tasking'
You may not know the term, but you know the activity: employees using their smartphones to do work tasks at home and personal tasks (such as updating social media) while on the clock. Restrict or embrace it? That’s the question facing bosses in all businesses, including restaurants. The import is underscored by regulators’ warnings that any work-related activities conducted in off hours should merit compensation for that time, even if it was just a few minutes to read an email.
2. Slower throughput?
At a time when many chains are looking to increased throughput as the key way to drive profits, processing credit cards though EMV readers may cost business. While swiping a card takes only a few quick seconds, processing via the new chip-and-dip devices can take 20 seconds, said Jeff Owens, CFO of multiconcept Clyde’s Restaurant Group, at the FSTEC Conference in Washington, D.C. “That’s two vodka tonics I didn’t sell.”
3. The push for benefit reforms
Berkeley, Calif., is pressing a $19-an-hour minimum wage, although a vote by the city council was initially delayed. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., is expected to consider a requirement that employers provide 16 weeks of paid family leave—most jurisdictions require one or two. And Starbucks is being pressured by a union to speed up its shift-scheduling reforms.