Over paid and over promoted…what are we doing to our industry?

Although The Cutting Edge Agency specialises in F&B brands and concepts, we are constantly – and I mean, constantly – asked about sourcing staff for existing or future restaurant, bars and nightclubs.

A small tip here, as we do not work in recruitment per-say, we happily pass on these requests to F&B recruitment specialists in the region. Note I said F&B recruitment specialists, not just recruitment agents. Why, you may ask? Well, put quite simply, when I am engaging a recruitment agent for any of the projects I work on, I would like to know that they have at least had some hands-on experience in the hospitality or F&B industry, thus giving me some piece of mind that the candidates I will interview have a broad-stroke understanding of the intricacies of good and consistent customer service.

When we are searching for staff with the qualities we are looking for, we have in mind particular budgets and expectations for each and every position in our manning guide. This ultimately leads me to my opinion point today. Maybe, I am a traditionalist. I remember my first waiting job for a five-star hotel. The pay was lousy and the hours horrendous but it was nothing compared to the first year apprenticeship period in the kitchen. However, those grueling years working my way up through the ranks of hospitality operations proved invaluable and when I earned my first promotion it felt like a true accomplishment.

I am sorry to say – and this will be divisive to many here I am sure – that we have as an industry in this region removed some of the magic that garners and creates excellence in hospitality by resorting to over promoting and over paying.

I can’t tell you the number of times in the last 12 months that I have been introduced to a ‘manager’ of a restaurant who has three years total experience in the industry, let alone a ‘general manager’ who is yet to see the other side of 25. What are we doing?

It is understandable that staffing becomes somewhat critical when key players leave an operation, or when we open a new one and subsequently want the best talent from within the region to lead us forward, however – and I say this with the utmost respect – let us select colleagues that have earned the right to the position, not just over promote to fill a gap. By doing this, we do ourselves as operators an injustice, and we do the staff member the same as we rob them of the appropriate hands-on training and ultimately set them up to fail.

My second point relates to the gross overpayment of certain positions within the industry that push our F&B associates to follow the dollar rather than pursuit of a steady growth in career. I have said before that we should look to forming a benchmark association to set reasonable standards for F&B positions within the region, and employers should be encouraged to follow them. If this happens it will create a reasonable and fair playing field for all and we wont see over-zealous owners offering ridiculous salaries – only to have their restaurants closed six months later – and employees, having tasted the pay grade, expecting or demanding the same. And poaching… well, that I will leave to another column.

We owe it to our staff, our fellow operators and – above all – else the industry to strive to create a fair and reasonable work place for all with fair and reasonable employee benefit expectations and a fair and reasonable career growth in mind.

Rant over.

Duncan Fraser-Smith is the founder of The Cutting Edge Agency that specialises in the development and creation of benchmark F&B concepts through conceptualisation and training, as well as sourcing and partnering with international brands and high-profile chefs to successfully establish their presence in the Middle East. Visit www.thecuttingedgeagency.com

Getting Started



Your hospitality roadmap from ‘vision to creation’

Limited to just 10 sessions each month