Do you think you are having recruiting problems? Try to staff the night shifts

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When Denny’s decided to close for Christmas in 1988, after more than 30 years of continuous service, the industry’s largest round-the-clock operation encountered a problem: many units could not find the key to lock their front doors.

Today, these keys can be brilliant to use. According to the latest management update, about 60% of American 24-hour diners, as the brand calls its restaurants, still don’t work all night. Night owls are still anxious to have their 2am Grand Slam and Moons Over My Hammy, executives say, but the chain can’t find enough hands to cook the food and take the money.

That frustration translated into a 22 point second quarter gap between same-store sales of 24-hour units and line-ups from stores that reduced their hours. 24-hour restaurants posted a 12% year-over-year increase in comparable sales in the second quarter, while outlets closed overnight were down 10% for the same period.

What else, “There is a fairly large flow [for] those dollars, ”financial analysts CEO John Miller.

The family catering center is not the only night operator to leave money in the pockets of guests in the early hours because workers are nowhere to be found. IHOP, a main rival, said only 27% of its restaurants were operating all night long as of June 30, compared to 50% which were operating 24/7 before the coronavirus crisis.

Closures are so rare for Waffle House that temporary closures are viewed by weather officials as signs of truly dire local conditions. The chain declined to say how many of its stores, if any, have cut back on late-night service.

And it’s not just restaurants that are struggling to find staff during off-peak hours. A large group of 7-Eleven franchisees has twice asked its franchisor to waive the 24-hour operating requirement of the convenience store chain, citing their inability to hire for the night shift.

The National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees, a group representing 7,000 units in the United States, learned from a May poll that 50% of franchisees themselves had done at least 10 night shifts in the 60 previous days because they couldn’t recruit anyone for those hours.

Clearly, concepts that operated 24/7 before the pandemic are seeing that distinction eroded by their inability to staff night shifts and night shifts. They attest that cemetery shift positions can be the most difficult to fill in today’s work environment.

It is not for lack of trumpeting the need. Help-seeking ads for night-time restaurant jobs tripled on the popular Snagajob website between January and June, to just under 4% of all food-related ads, according to the company. The volume has slowly declined since then, a representative said, but is still above January’s level.


What to do about it?

Snagajob’s numbers match Denny’s experience. Since January, the chain has increased the total number of hours its stores are open by 5%, to an average of 19 hours per unit, according to chain president Mark Wolfinger.

“We worked with our franchise system, franchise by franchise, unit by unit, to develop a plan to increase our effective operating hours per day,” Wolfinger told financial analysts as he uploaded Denny’s results for the second. trimester.

“In October, we plan to close the gap completely,” Miller said.

The franchisor declined to say what remedies he was trying.

IHOP doesn’t feel as much pressure, according to President Jay Johns.

“24/7 is not SOP for us,” he told Wall Street analysts on the second quarter conference call for IHOP’s parent company, Dine Brands Global. “It’s not a contractual requirement that people be open 24/7. This is something that franchisees decide to do if they think it is beneficial to them.

Corn “you see a delta ”between sales of 24-hour units and those that close overnight, he admitted, declining an analyst’s request to quantify the spread.

“Every week we get a few more restaurants checking in 24/7,” Johns added.

In the meantime, continued the brand president, some IHOP franchisees opt for what he calls 24/2, or keep the doors open all weekend but close at night during the week.

Like Denny’s and Waffle House, IHOP has declined requests for information on what it is doing to keep more units open 24 hours a day.

The impact on sales was tempered for Denny’s by the launch of two virtual concepts, The Burger Den and Melt Down. Businesses tend to be popular during less busy times for Denny’s core business, generating additional sales without a corresponding increase in labor requirements, Miller explained.

“These brands provide opportunities not only at dinner and late at night to take advantage of underutilized labor and kitchen space, but we are also seeing a significant number of transactions during the week. compared to the weekend, “he said.

So, one analyst asked, why not ditch Denny’s 24-hour tradition and the problems that go with it and simply use virtual businesses to capture overnight sales?

No way, Miller said.

“Remember, we are an all-day restaurant, the American restaurant, always open,” he explained. “This has been our position in the market for many years.


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