Fast-food jobs that people actually want
A number of independent chains already exceed the minimum wage and Obamacare demands. Why do they flourish as their big corporate competition frets?
The world hasn't stopped turning and those businesses haven't been ground into dust. As bigger chains including McDonald's (MCD), Wendy's (WEN), Domino's (DPZ), Papa John's (PZZA), White Castle and others cry greasy crocodile tears over the minimum wage and the Affordable Care Act, independent chains are doing just fine by exceeding both the minimum wage and the Affordable Care Act's requirements.
So what's the key difference? Well, burgers at Moo Cluck Moo start at $3 and chicken sandwiches at $5, while a combo meal at Burgerville goes for around $10. Conversely, each chain uses fresher -- and, in some cases, organic -- ingredients than their larger counterparts. However, they also lack that pesky little ticker symbol that follows the chains listed above, which means they can make a profit without having their margins consistently pushed and prodded for more.
"We don’t have a corporate overhead, and our CEO isn’t making $50 million a year," Moo Cluck Moo co-owner and co-founder Harry Moorhouse told The Daily Beast. "We're much more efficient. Where we have four people on a shift, a McDonald's might have seven or eight."
Moorhouse says the living-wage movement that is seeking as much as $15 an hour for fast-food workers never affected his payroll decisions. He says he was guided by the ideal that fast food would be better with natural beef, no hormones, sunflower oil for frying and that it would be prepared better by staff who are paid better. The high starting wage has also been great advertising in a union area like the one surrounding Detroit, where The Detroit News pounced on the eatery's story earlier this year.
Burgerville, meanwhile, actually raised the bar on its health care requirement from 20 hours because some on the plan "didn't have to work very hard to be there." It also doesn't see the reduced turnover -- a third less than the overall fast-food industry -- as a negative, handing employees a "nice watch" when they hit the 15-year mark.
While naysayers shudder to think what a Big Mac would cost if worker wages increased, the fast-food chains mentioned above and others including In-N-Out Burger ($10.50 an hour starting wage) and Seattle-based Dick's Drive-In ($10 an hour to start and full benefits for those working 24 hours a week or more) suggest big-chain customers already pay too much for too little. Meanwhile, Businessweek suggests that $10.50 an hour may be the most reasonable place to start the minimum wage discussion.
The fast-food industry won't collapse if both wages and prices rise. If anything, it may just make customers and shareholder wallets a bit slimmer.
In-N-Out is a good establishment: they have a very simple menu, cook to order, use only fresh ingredients, employ friendly, intelligent and energetic people who don't get discombobulated if you tweak your order slightly. It doesn't surprise me that their starting salary is $10.50; they work hard, keep things moving efficiently, don't look miserable and are well worth it. There's always a long line which shows you don't have to spend billions in advertising or stupid marketing experiments with the latest fads to reach your customer base.
In 2005 I did a study comparing wages and rents for 1BDR apartments. Turned out that the average homeless person needed to find a job that paid $11 per hour, to earn enough to live in an efficiency apartment in Seattle.
Back in 1976, my partner and I paid our employees 50 cents more than minimum wage, and we paid for half of the employee's health insurance. Both were unheard of at that time.
Employees who are fairly compensated, and who have some health and dental insurance benefits, do tend to be happier and more customer friendly. They also care more about the "CQC" of the Food business. That is Cleanliness, Quality and Consistency. That is something the big corps need to learn.
The lie that raising minimum wage to $9 as they're working on would raise the price of a Big Mac $1 each is easily disproved. Many states have state mandated wages near that including Washington state at $9.19 an hour and a Big Mac only costs a few cents more than Virginia that follows federal requirements.
It's kind of like the lie that Wal Mart can't pay much over minimum wage or provide benefits and compete while Costco pays an average $18 an hour, has good benefits and is very profitable.
Starbucks pays benefits unlike the big fast restaurants that have huge profits and
are cheap with employees
Agree that the wave of the future is staying private - take a small, local chain like Five Guys - fairly simple menu - all they serve are burgers and hand-cut fries. Takes maybe 4 to 5 on a shift to run things - burgers are fresh, cooked and dressed to order, nice dining area - no tacos, no frozen chicken or frozen fish , no microwave. Drinks are self-serve. No shakes, no ice cream
Did anyone notice that this restaurant has half the staff? It seems like that would be the net effect.
Pay could go up, but number of staff would be reduced to compensate. Could rates go up a little? Sure. But the sad thing is that so many people are under the impression that working in fast food is supposed to provide a living wage. It can if you work up to management. Then pay at most places start at $40k/yr. But if you have been an order taker for several years and haven't made any attempt to work your way up, you almost give up the right to gripe. If this job doesn't work for you, there is still the option of getting a different job.
'Way to go! This is the most positive news I have heard since January 2009. Adding healthcare to supplement an excellent entrance salary would be the extra incentive to cause an ambitious person to polish up the resume and take steps to secure an interview. (as Ed would say): "Let's Get To Work!"
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