Red Lobster learning that more work and less pay might hurt the bottom line

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
Dec 9, 2004
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#1
Definitely a "No Shit Sherlock " article and not solely related to Red Lobsters. Most casual dining places suffer from this "overworked staff = shit service = unhappy customers" problem.

Efficiency Backlash: Businesses Find Too Much Downsizing Can Hurt the Bottom Line

One national restaurant chain realizes that overburdening its employees hurts sales, as well as the company brand. Will more businesses follow its lead?

In the business world, efficiency is king. The corporate quest to cut salaries and get more out of employees, thereby maximizing profits, is never-ending. At some point, however, increasing the workload on employees backfires. The burden becomes too much for workers to bear, and when employees are overwhelmed and can’t keep up with their duties, it’s just plain bad for business.
Last week, Red Lobster basically admitted that it had crossed the line with the introduction of a policy aimed at increasing efficiency and lowering restaurant costs. In July 2012, the restaurant chain, owned by Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, eliminated the busboy position, demoted many waiters to lower-paid status as “service assistants” and forced the remaining full-fledged servers to increase the number of tables they handled from three to four.
At the time, Red Lobster said the changes were being made after testing showed that diners and restaurant employees alike approved of the new policies. An Orlando Sentinel story published at the time of the switch offered some other perspectives:
‘We’re going to be completely worn out,’ said Bob Meehan, a longtime server at Red Lobster in Lake Worth. ‘It’s definitely going to hurt service.’
Chris Muller, dean of Boston University’s hospitality school, said worker morale will likely suffer. ‘If you don’t like the people you’re working with and for … it’s going to show,’ he said.
Lo and behold, it appears as if Red Lobster is now acknowledging that these critics may have been on to something. Less than a year after the four-table policy was launched, the company announced it is reversing the decision, and waitstaff will go back to serving three tables at a time. A Red Lobster spokesperson told the Orlando Sentinelthat while some customers liked the four-table policy, once it was introduced around the country, “far more folks told us that in some instances, it really turned out to be a barrier to providing that great guest experience.”
If anything, the new policies only hurt sales, which have been sinking at the old-fashioned sit-down chain for months. It’s unclear how much the chain managed to shave off in employee wages during this experiment in efficiency. But obviously it wasn’t enough to justify the damage it was doing to the customer experience.
Red Lobster is hardly the only national company that could be doing internal damage by asking too much of employees, or by just not hiring enough of them. In recent months, a series of stories in Bloomberg and other outlets has been chronicling Walmart’s problems with empty shelves in stores around the nation. Customers and Walmart employees alike are making the case that store managers keep staffing levels too low to restock shelves while also manning cash registers and tending to other duties. The result is often a backlog of merchandise in the back of stores, empty shelves and long lines — all of which are bad for business.
In early April, workers at fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and Domino’s Pizza held public demonstrations across New York City in protest of poor wages. Not long after that, the Wall Street Journal revealed that in a webcast held for McDonald’s franchise owners, a company executive admitted that “service is broken” at restaurant locations, with an increase in complaints about the speed of service and “rude or unprofessional employees.”
While JCPenney in the Ron Johnson era has faced many self-inflicted problems — most obviously alienating its coupon-loving core customers — many observers have also pointed out that the fading department store has been abandoned by shoppers because there just aren’t enough workers to offer customer assistance. The retailer reportedly laid off more than 40,000 workers in 2012.
The Los Angeles Times recently explored the idea that because of continued high unemployment and the increasingly competitive nature of the business world, employees will be expected to do more and get less (including less security) indefinitely:
‘Wages are stagnant, jobs are less secure, work is more intense — it’s a much tougher world,’ said Paul Osterman, co-director of the MIT Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research. ‘Employers have become much more aggressive about restructuring work in ways that push for higher levels of productivity.’
One of Osterman’s MIT colleagues, Zeynep Ton in the Sloan School of Management, explained to the Atlantic that many businesses “start with this philosophy of seeing employees as a cost to be minimized.” That, in turn, can lead to understaffing, high employee turnover, poor customer experience and dwindling sales. On the other hand, Ton pointed to stores such as Trader Joe’s, QuickTrip and Costco, which “start with the mentality of seeing employees as assets to be maximized.” They pay employees higher wages and offer better benefits than their competitors, and it appears to be money well spent, with higher sales per square foot of retail space.
Sound like pretty efficient operations.
http://business.time.com/2013/04/23...over-they-cant-keep-downsizing-the-workforce/
 

CousinDave

Registered User
Dec 11, 2007
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#2
I'm sure the fact that the customer base at Red Lobster doesn't tip well has nothing at all to do with the service problem
 

Neckbeard

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Oct 26, 2011
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#3
Redbone Lobster has more black people than Africa. That keeps me from going there.
 

LiddyRules

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Jun 1, 2005
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#5
Orlando Sentinelthat while some customers liked the four-table policy,
What crazy observant customers go to Red Lobster? I've never known how many tables my waiter was handling.
 

Wrecktum

Tounge puncher of fart boxes
Jun 29, 2006
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#6
Its not just chain places. Up until 2 months ago I was Bartending at a golf resort. They got rid of our barbacks and bus boys and cut our ot they really don't pay much to begin with cause we work for tips. Well long story short. I've got to step away from the bar to get ice beer and liquor when you have 100+ people waiting to get their drinks it makes them very unhappy.
 

Neckbeard

I'm Team Piggy!
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Oct 26, 2011
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#7
You worked at a golf resort? You need to get with Opie and the Philly Crew and pound back some Coors Light and bikitinis and commiserate about your war experience.
 

Psychopath

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Dec 28, 2008
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#8
A fucking 5th grader with basic math could have told these idiots this.
 

Psychopath

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#13
God dammit. I blame myself for not proofreading.
 

Party Rooster

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Apr 27, 2005
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#14
News flash: the restaurant industry is a shitty way to make a living.
For owners. Any tipped employee worth a shit can make pretty decent money. Especially considering the hours put in and their education level.

Problem is these chains hire the wrong people for the job. Because you can pass a drug test, have a pretty face and nail your "audition" is the only thing they care about. Your résumé is irrelevant. The managers are frequently hired because they have college degrees yet lack any kind of restaurant experience.

These servers must be retards if they can't handle four tables. Either that or the organizational system at these places is grossly inefficient. I worked fine dining and would be twiddling my thumbs with four tables, even if I had to bus them myself.
 

OilyJillFart

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Sep 26, 2008
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#15
These servers must be retards if they can't handle four tables. Either that or the organizational system at these places is grossly inefficient. I worked fine dining and would be twiddling my thumbs with four tables, even if I had to bus them myself.
Seems to me it should be very simple to calculate how many tables a server can handle at a particular place..
How much time do they spend attending to a table (both at the table and away) and how long does an average table stay. Divide.
 

Party Rooster

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#17
Seems to me it should be very simple to calculate how many tables a server can handle at a particular place..
How much time do they spend attending to a table (both at the table and away) and how long does an average table stay. Divide.
It's not that simple. Calculating those things is impossible in a service environment, you can't compare it to making widgets on an assembly line. If you want a glimpse of what it's like working in one of these chain type restaurants, see Jennifer Anniston's role in Office Space. I wonder if Mike Judge ever worked in one of these places. That's him playing the manager:

 

OilyJillFart

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Sep 26, 2008
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#21
It's not that simple. Calculating those things is impossible in a service environment, you can't compare it to making widgets on an assembly line. If you want a glimpse of what it's like working in one of these chain type restaurants, see Jennifer Anniston's role in Office Space. I wonder if Mike Judge ever worked in one of these places. That's him playing the manager:
I've got zero experience in the field beyond sitting at the table, but I'm curious what the variables are that make it difficult to run the numbers.

In high end restaurants, you take reservations.. Which means you have a pretty good rough idea of how long a table is occupied.
In a chain, the server will run any loiterer out by asking if they are ready to pay the bill. Everyone knows when their time is up.
 

Chino Kapone

Yo, whats wrong wit da beer we got?
Jun 10, 2005
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#24
Any waiter worth their salt avoids chain restaurants like the plague. I liked waiting tables, but in a lilly white area of town, where the average dinner for two was $60. When it was 4 people it would be around $100-$150.

Multiple nights I'd take a total of 5 or 6 tables, and be home by 10 with $100 cash in hand.
 

Party Rooster

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#25
I've got zero experience in the field beyond sitting at the table, but I'm curious what the variables are that make it difficult to run the numbers.

In high end restaurants, you take reservations.. Which means you have a pretty good rough idea of how long a table is occupied.
In a chain, the server will run any loiterer out by asking if they are ready to pay the bill. Everyone knows when their time is up.
:haha7:
I wish I had a dollar for every "camper" that didn't realize they had overstayed their welcome. Last place I worked at we would offer to buy them after-dinner drinks in the bar so we could turn the table and some people would still get offended.

You generally have a good idea of how long people are going to dine "on average." One to two hours, depending on the restaurant experience. You start out the night staggering the servers' seatings so they don't get overwhelmed, generally about 10-15 minutes apart. But even that can run into problems. Table 1 was seated first, but they want to relax and have a cocktail or two first before ordering. Table 2 gets seated 15 minutes later and they've never been there before so they want to read the whole menu. Table 3 gets seated 10 minutes later and have special "needs" and have to know every ingredient in every dish, and the server has to go in the back for answers. Then table 4 gets seated and are running late for a movie and want to order right away.

By now, table 1 has their nice cocktail buzz going so they want to order, table 2 has finally read the entire menu so they do too, table 3 is now ready to order because they had to change their mind after finding out *shock* the french onion soup had gluten and dairy, and table 4 is pissed because no one has taken their order as they were being seated in the booth. So you take all four orders as quick as you can and put them in all at once and now you've slammed the cooks' stations.

Then, in a worst-case scenario, all 4 tables leave within 5 minutes of each other and the airhead hostesses just immediately seat all four tables one after another on the second turn because now they're running a wait and those people had reservations. And you can't really tell people with reservations to wait in the bar for 10-15 minutes. Besides, the bar is full anyway.

That's not counting all the things that can go wrong and are going to require more attention. Food served cold, over/under cooked, customer didn't like/changed mind, running out of menu items, running out of glassware/dishware, drinks too strong/weak, people wanting to move because of the kids/lowlifes sitting next to them, bartenders and cooks making you wait because they're slammed too, etc. Sounds fun, huh?