People have always been the most important factor in business success, but for most of the recent decade you’d not know it – until now
Suddenly the ‘lean business’ model and the ‘gig economy’ are not working so well as, post-pandemic, many people won’t put up with poor pay, long hours and rubbish working conditions.
ONS stats show that though the number of vacancies fell from August to October 2022 by 46,000 on the total from May to July, the number of unemployed people per vacancy still stood at one. This is “unchanged from the previous quarter and indicative of a tight labour market,” the ONS says.
Trend inevitably affects franchises
Hospitality and catering, care and retail are sectors which lend themselves to the franchise model, and franchises are having to grapple with recruitment problems. Anyone considering buying a franchise now – whatever its sector – needs to be looking at the bigger picture as regards recruitment. Investing in a franchise that involves employing staff without considering the recruitment situation risks landing the new franchisee with a problem from day one.
What you should be asking now
Ask how franchisors are treating their employees, what steps they are taking to boost recruitment, and what they do to boost retention. In addition, talk to a selection of franchisees, and even front-line employees, to find out how franchises treat their people.
In the care sector. Amrit Dhaliwal, chief executive of the Walfinch homecare franchise, believes that metrics can help franchisees with the current challenge of carer recruitment. “At Walfinch, we have metrics which can tell franchisees how many calls it takes to recruit a carer and how many interviews it will require to recruit a successful candidate,” he says. “This can indicate how effective an individual franchisee’s recruitment efforts are and provide a morale-booster for the franchisee during the search for the right person. If they know it will take on average six interviews to find the right candidate (despite carer shortages, we are very selective) they will know that as the number of interviews moves closer to six, the chances are greater that they will find the right person.”
Caremark has invested in an app called Connecteam, which is being rolled out among its franchisees’ care teams. With a workforce of over 7,000 and 115 franchise offices, the company wanted an easy-to-use, informative, and effective, modern ‘mobile intranet’ for all staff.
Joint CEO David Glover says: “Our care assistants are the lifeblood of our business and I wanted to ensure they receive the exact support they need, be that training, access to documents or a place to chat with peers, as well as feeling valued, engaged and part of one big national team.”
At the same time, he feels that the ability to listen to the workforce is paramount to being in touch with both staff and customers. “Our care teams meet with our customers on a daily basis, and I wanted to provide them with a platform to give feedback and to share ideas directly with me and our franchise owners. This will enable us to adapt where relevant, in order to provide our care teams with the best possible working environment, whilst also aiding in recruitment and retention,” he says.
Anthony Round, franchise director at the Burger & Sauce franchise, says: “We encourage our franchisees to select the best candidates, and then to support, train and help nurture their career goals. Franchisees are not seen as an owner, but as a mentor to deliver career opportunities. It means everyone benefits, so the brand grows more smoothly and successfully.”
He adds: “The investment in time and effort involved in really getting to know staff is worthwhile because staff can start to think of it less of a job and more of a career. For example, we offer opportunities for promotion. Capable staff know that as we expand there will be manager roles coming up and we help train them for those jobs. All our managers have come through this system. Keeping great team members is as important as recruiting new people.”
Change starts with franchisees
At fast-casual German-inspired street food franchise brand Döner Shack, co-founder and managing director Sanjeev Sanghera believes a complete change of career perception is essential.
“The perception of a career in hospitality is still largely negative,” he says. “The industry needs to address these poor and inaccurate slants, particularly among young people. Restaurants can offer diverse and increasingly desirable skillsets which can mean an attractive, lifelong career path.”
Franchisees are essential to this, he adds. “It is vital to create a positive workplace culture in your restaurant that improves teamwork, raises morale, increases productivity and efficiency while enabling growth and development. The culture of any business comes from the top down, so restaurant owners should model the behaviour and approach to work that they would expect from their team and agree the tone from the outset.”
Raiyan Ruzly, Burger & Sauce Birmingham
The employee’s view
Raiyan Ruzly is the store manager for Burger & Sauce’s restaurant in the Bullring shopping centre, Birmingham – all while working towards his ACCA accountancy exams.
Raiyan first discovered Burger & Sauce as a customer. He says: “I loved the freshness of the food, and Burger & Sauce seemed like a cool brand, so I applied to become part of the team. I enjoyed the vibe, it’s busy, fun and everyone is great to work with.”
Raiyan’s hard work meant he was quickly promoted to supervisor and then store manager in October 2021. “What began as a part-time job is now full time and I thoroughly enjoy it! I’m still studying in my spare time as it’s my dream to become an accountant, but Burger & Sauce has offered me progression and job fulfilment which was quite unexpected.”
Raiyan works closely with franchisee Kamil Munir who owns the franchise for the Bullring plus a further four Burger & Sauce locations due to open soon.
“The best thing about my role it that it pushes me to see what I’m capable of,” confirms Raiyan “Management is more than just the staff rota. It’s about motivating the team to meet the goals of the store, operations, ordering, chasing marketing flyers, right through to organising building maintenance. For the everyday stuff, the buck stops with me!
“Managing the store has given me so many new skills which will support me whatever direction I choose to take in the future.”
Tiffany Meachim, Walfinch Mansfield
Caring for carers pays off for Tiffany
Tiffany Meachim, franchisee and managing director of the Walfinch homecare franchise in Mansfield, has a raft of measures in place to make her care team feel happy and valued. “When we write vacancies we use terms like ‘shopping assistant’ and ‘independent living assistant’. It describes the actual work better than the word ‘carer’, and we have found it works well. We recruit through the Indeed website and renew our ads each Friday because we have found that puts us back at the top of the list.”
She also offers flexible hours and gives referral bonuses to existing team members who refer a candidate who is subsequently taken on.
“We also offer a 30p an-hour uplift to team members who complete all of their shifts in one month, offer free vehicle MOTs for everyone on the team, and we are looking at introducing a salary sacrifice scheme to help them pay for vehicles more easily,” says Tiffany.
There are also awards for carer of the month (£50) and regular excellence awards, and Tiffany pays for her team to go on outings and for regular meals out.
Tiffany says: “Our carers tell me they enjoy it and feel valued and looked after. I’m sure it contributes to our success in recruitment and retention.”
Sarah Crease, Caremark Liverpool
Spreading staff happiness with an app
Sarah Crease, registered care manager at Caremark home care franchise in Liverpool, says that after 15 weeks of use the Connecteam app has helped make the care team happier.
“Staff members who go above and beyond in a particular month are mentioned on the app’s news feed, so everyone recognises them as our Care & Support Worker of the Month, which is very rewarding,” says Sarah.
She adds: “There’s a refer-a-friend scheme, which means that through the app staff can refer someone they know and receive £50 each once the referred employee completes 12 weeks in their role and gains their care certificate.”
The app is also used to welcome new staff and mark the birthdays of team members, and there’s a monthly raffle run through the app. “The more hours you do the more chances you have to have your name drawn. This is then posted on the news feed, so it’s quite fun,” says Sarah.
Staff find it easy to use. “Once you do something the first time then you can do it again without instruction. Staff find the app easy to navigate, and they all use the chat function, which is extremely useful,” Sarah says.
Worst sectors for recruitment
In social care staff vacancies rose by 52 per cent to 165,000 unfilled posts in 2021-2022, the largest annual increase since records began in 2012.
If the social care workforce grows in line with projections of the ageing population, the number of posts needs to increase by about 490,000 to 2.27 million by 2035. (Skills for Care report, published October 2022).
The retail sector accounts for one of the highest totals of vacancies, at 100,000, around 10,000 more than before the pandemic. It’s not just shop staff: the industry faces a shortage of HGV drivers and warehouse workers, and workers are no longer willing to work the unsocial hours that many retailers require (British Retail Consortium Retail Jobs report, published September 2022).
In hospitality, record staff shortages are causing hospitality to lose £21 billion in trade, according to a joint survey by UK Hospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping and the British Beer and Pub Association, published in June 2022. One in three businesses in the sector are being forced to close one or more days a week because of a lack of staff.
Eight out of 10 operators with vacancies are struggling to fill front-of-house roles, 76 per cent are looking for chefs and 67 per cent are for kitchen porters. Even managers are in short supply, with 53 per cent of operators looking for assistant managers. ONS figures in released in September 2022 found that 37.4 per cent of businesses in accommodation and food services were having issues recruiting enough skilled staff, according to digital marketing agency Koozai.
The over-50s: potential new franchisees
Many over-50s have realised that they’re a long time dead. They have determined to make the most of their life and that doesn’t include working for someone else. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported that there were an additional 386,096 economically inactive 50 to 64-year-olds in May to July 2022 than in the pre-COVID period December 2019 to February 2020. These people are neither working nor looking for employment, with retirement being given as the main reason for their decision to leave work. Many cite health concerns, but leaving a stressful, long-hours job may help solve those.
However, the cost of living is rising. What happens when these people find that they can’t get by on their savings and private pensions? Many won’t want to go back to working for someone else, even assuming ageist employers are willing to take them on.
For them, the solution could be setting up their own business, perhaps with a franchise. These people have plenty of work and life skills – franchisors are likely to welcome many of them as new franchisees.
Linda Whitney writes about franchising for the Daily Mail, What Franchise and many other publications.