How to retain Staff during down times in the operation

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Joined Jun 29, 2009
Hi all,

I am the Chef of a Kosher catering company in Maryland. When we are busy we do parties 50 to 1000, multi-day conferences from 500 to 2500 for 3 meals a day, and deliveries. When we are slow we are slow one delivery here and there and small party for 60 or 100. No Need for the full staff we all just multitask and move on. My question is how do you retain a staff when you are lean??
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
I think every caterer has the same problem. I hired people who already had a job and just wanted to pick up some hours. This way if things were slow I had no obligation to give hours. In most cases I kept key people and like you said we all wore many hats. Catering is a had business to keep a staff employed full time. In my case I had cooks working full time in my cafes. I just needed to pick up some extra help serving. These are the people I fell back on that already had day jobs and could work a few house for an evening catering.
 
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Joined Dec 2, 2016
We are in a similar size to you.  We currently do on average about 5 to 10 events a month.  However, in December, we did around 20+ events.  A couple of ideas are working really well for us.  First, we have a pretty big pool of people.  We probably have 30 people we can call on.  We have spent the last year building this list of reliable staff.  We have a chart that shows who wants to work what days and times of the week and we do our best to call those folks to fill those slots.  So naturally, they are typically available for those shifts when we need them.  The second thing we have done is to focus on single moms/dads and retired folks who just need some extra pocket money, but have been in the restaurant industry before.  We literally started by asking our friends on our personal facebook page "who used to be a waitress or waiter" and then we started reaching out.  We found that these people tend to be interested in just a gig here and there, but are often very professional and usually have friends who are in a similar situation.  So we have our people recruit their friends for us.  Hope these ideas help!

Michael

Head Blogger and Content Creator

Catering Champaign, IL
 

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