Recruiting, motivating and training employees will be vital if pub, bar and restaurant brands are to carve out growth in 2018, CGA’s Business Leaders’ Survey shows.
The poll of nearly 200 sector bosses found that nearly three quarters (72%) consider service to be a key driver for consumers when they choose where to eat and drink. That makes it the second most important factor of all—behind only quality of experience (81%) and ahead of important considerations like value for money (70%), value for experience (69%) and food quality (63%).
Every leader surveyed by CGA said engaged and motivated staff would be important or very important to the success of their business in 2018. But analysis of the Survey shows that only a third (36%) of leaders think their engagement with employees is very good at the moment—an indication of how much work remains to be done to properly connect with their teams.
The Survey also highlights the need for more investment in staff. Only three in five (60%) leaders plan to increase spending on employee engagement this year, and only slightly more (68%) intend to increase investment in staff training.
Even if businesses can incentivize and retain staff, the Survey suggests that many may struggle to recruit good people in the first place. Three in five (60%) leaders say staff availability is a very important operational issue in 2018—and that number may well rise if Brexit deters more overseas workers from heading to the UK hospitality sector.
With CGA data showing only modest growth in like for like sales, and rising food and property costs hitting margins, sustained investment in team engagement will be difficult for some operators. But with CGA research also proving the very close correlation between service and customer satisfaction, high-quality employee motivation and training is likely to make a significant difference in brands’ fierce battle for market share in 2018.
The Business Leaders’ Survey has a host more insights from leaders about prospects for pub, bar and restaurant operators in 2018—including broad but cautious optimism despite the challenges facing the sector.