Chair of the Board: Letter to Membership
By: Billy Downs | May 2023
Greetings fellow MRLA members and friends! I am writing to you fresh off the Restaurant Leadership Conference and am eager to share a few insights from the experience. This conference is one of the places where emerging brands and multi-unit operators gather with vendors and industry experts to share information, network, and learn. Amongst the many takeaways from the conference, three key items jumped out at me:
As labor shortages continue to impact operations, companies are stepping-up their retention awareness and practices. These tactics include competitive pay, evolving and growing benefits, creative scheduling, and so much more. As I listened to the personal stories of members from across the state, I realized the paramount of concern when it comes to retaining employees in the hospitality industry. In fact, with platforms like Indeed and other job posting sites, many hospitality workers choose to “enter the portal” on a regular basis just to see what’s out there. For all of us in Michigan, it is more important than ever to have effective retention plans in place.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to evolve at an incredible pace. Numerous industry leaders currently utilizing AI shared the need to find new technologies to help operators compete and meet changing consumer needs and expectations. The amount of time technology can save an employee is unmatched. For example, many of these new systems can guide managers in quick decision-making and solve problems instantly that would have previously taken hours or even days to resolve. On that note, I would be remiss if I did not mention how nice it was to see one of MRLA’s Endorse Partners, BYOD (Bring Your Own Data) presenting at the conference.
The atmosphere at the conference was one that I would categorize as “cautious optimism.” Optimism stems from the continued growth, resilience, and evolution of the industry. Having said that, many in this grouping of leaders (which represented over 100,000+ food service establishments) seem concerned about inflation and the short-term economic outlook. Therefore, many brands are not planning to “take price” any time soon.
In these fragile economic times, working smarter not harder is no longer a cliché. Unfortunately, we continue to see businesses closing across our state. While, at the same time, competitors are evolving, and newer and more efficient concepts continue to pop up and stay relevant. It may be the time, if you have not already done so, to look at how emerging technologies can help your business not only survive, but to also thrive in the years to come. Fortunately for Members, the MRLA has several resources for you when it comes to implementing technology and a committed staff that can help get you started.