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3 key restaurant trends to watch ahead of ICR's annual conference

Category: Finance,Retail

It's no secret that the restaurant industry has one of the worst employee retention rates. A whopping 72.5 percent of people left their food service or hospitality gigs in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Partially it's just the nature of the industry, with so many of the positions filled by teens and college students just getting into the labor force. These employees are often part-time or seasonal hires, and only intend on staying with the company for a brief time before moving on to another career.

And since restaurants are always hiring, jumping from one company to another for better pay or benefits isn't uncommon. The trouble is each time an employee leaves a restaurant, the company has to hire and train someone new, costing time and money.

Restaurants like Starbucks, Chipotle, Taco Bell and McDonald's have rolled out retention programs aimed at getting staff to stick around. Programs have included college tuition assistance, better parental leave benefits and sick days for part-time employees.

However, a flighty labor force isn't the only worry for restaurants. In 2019, 20 states will raise their minimum wages, putting pressure on companies' bottom lines.

In some cases, convincing diners to order online or via an app can help offset this increase in employee wages. For the majority of restaurant chains, around 25 percent of in-store labor is dedicated to taking orders at the counter, Saleh said. Offering other ways for customers to order, including a kiosk at the restaurant, can cut back on the staff needed to man the cash register. That labor can then be transitioned to the kitchen or eliminated.

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