Restaurant industry retention: how can we keep good employees?

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Restaurant industry change is necessary

The restaurant industry is a combination of old and new. Preparing delicious food is a practice as old as humanity — even though the restaurant equipment used varies from a cave campfire to a stainless steel Vulcan range with 32,000 BTU burners. At the same time, diners are a discriminating bunch, and successful entrepreneurs know that today’s trendy restaurant can quickly become passe and bankrupt.

The restaurant industry must adapt to stay viable

Although the restaurant industry is cyclical, responding to the seasons of the economy, it also must evolve to prosper. And it’s apparent that the restaurant industry has often struggled with the retention of key employees. Many smart, talented individuals work in the restaurant industry — and then quickly leave it for other industry that is considered more “career-friendly.” The restaurant industry struggles from the stigma of this popular perception, and it’s not without cause. Although they can be immensely rewarding, creatively, financially, and emotionally, restaurant industry jobs can be hard and the pace is fast. This situation costs the restaurant industry dearly in high turnover rates, training costs, lower productivity, and of course, the loss of talent.

The National Restaurant Association, as part of their Cornerstone Initiative, has taken positive steps to address this situation. Their Retirement Benefit Program allows Association member restaurants can offer retirement benefits to owners and employees. The program is administered by the American Buying Retirement Services, Inc.

Restaurant industry businesses should investigate retirement benefits

If you’re interested in retaining your best restaurant employees — and who isn’t? — you should take a look at setting up retirement benefits. In this era of do-it-yourself retirement plans, you might be surprised at how little it might cost. For some no-nonsense restaurant retirement plan advice, refer to these restaurant industry tips at the NRA website.

The employees at your restaurant or kitchen won’t be expecting a full-blown pension. If you can construct a sensible 401(k), SIMPLE-IRA, or SIMPLE 401(k), though, many of them will be more apt to visualize a long-term career with your restaurant — and that’s a future you should be encouraging.

Ice machines need winter checkups

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Ice machines work all year

Even restaurant equipment buyers don’t usually think of shopping for ice machines in the heart of winter. But the fact is that a typical foodservice or culinary operation never stops leaning on its ice machines. Even in cold weather, customers need ice in their drinks and cooks need ice to cool ingredients and make specialty items like homemade ice cream and smoothies.

If your ice machine is clanking, whining, or worse yet, producing slimy ice, now is the time to shop for a new icemaker. Your ice machine may still be working every day, but it won’t be under the constant strain that a blistering summer brings. That makes it easier to replace or maintain.

Is your ice machine a slimer?

Ice machine slime is a common problem, but other than the visceral image that it evokes, not everybody knows what ice machine slime is all about. Still, restauranteurs should know ice machine slime and its causes — it’s a health hazard. Ice machine slime is a mold or fungus that prospers due to bacteria on moist ice machine surfaces that aren’t regularly cleaned. It starts out pinkish but can decorate your ice machine in a variety of disgusting colors. We’ll write more about ice machine slime later. A slimy, ailing ice machine may be a good candidate to be sold on the used restaurant equipment market and replaced with a better model.

If you’re in the market for a new ice machine, we have a few handy recommendations. First, check out our ice machines buying guide. Second, think about buying one of these brand name ice machines. Like many things in the kitchen, you get what you pay for.

Manitowoc ice machines

Units like the Manitowoc SY-0324A ice machine — a editor’s choice — are always popular with cooks and chefs no matter what the season. Known for their reliability, Manitowoc ice machines can put on the freeze, and this particular unit delivers with 325 pounds of half-dice sized cube style ice per 24 hours. Manitowoc ice machines are America’s #1 selling ice machine.

Hoshizaki ice machines

Another option is to buy a Hoshizaki ice machine. Sleek and visually impressive, icemakers like the Hoshizaki ice machine KM320-MAH are sure to tickle the eyes of your kitchen staff. However, our editors feel like Manitowoc and Scotsman ice machines may give you more value for your money.

Scotsman ice machines

Icemakers like the Scotsman ice machine C0522SA-32A tend to use less water and electricity than units like the Hoshizaki KM320 ice machine. Scotsman ice machines have a solid reputation, and the C0522SA ice machine is no exception. A head-only unit, this “Prodigy” cuber exceeds California energy efficiency regulations and uses clear indicator lights to show you when to perform maintenance, making it easy to catch ice machine slime before a customer does.

It’s winter time, but don’t forget about your ice machine. A little forward thinking now may save you some cold sweats when the summer rush hits your restaurant.

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