Add Them Up: Crunching Numbers Yields Industry Insight

Have you looked at Industry trends and statistics lately? They may just help you in planning for profitability.

“Numbers and statistics,” says my friend Jim Buelt, “are best used the way a drunk uses a lamp post—not for illumination, but for support.” Today, I’d like to take exception to his rule and share a few numbers and current statistics that both support and illuminate our industry. Collectively, they add up to a virtual crystal ball quilt of industry trends, potential and possibilities that should be considered when planning your annual growth goals. Read ‘em and reap:

$6.19: Amount of money a family of four saved in 2005 by eating at home instead of eating out at a restaurant. In a recent issue of Slammed magazine, writer Annie Post quotes research analyst Paul Westra saying that this six-dollar differential is “peanuts…given the time deficit most families face, especially with all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning involved.” In 1990, Post says, it cost an average of 93 percent more to eat to eat out than to eat in. In 2003 that figure was only 26% higher. Moral? Great time to be in foodservice. Scary time to operate a supermarket that isn’t called Wal-Mart.

$8: hourly wage offered for alligator and snake handlers at the Seminole Okalee Indian Village in Florida in January 2003 as seen in a classified ad. That’s without benefits by the way. Hopefully it makes you feel a little better about your pay scale. If it embarrasses you, then maybe you need to pay your customer care specialists a little better. True, alligators and snakes bite, but mistreated customers don’t come back. And that doesn’t bite. It sucks.

3.2 million. Number of students projected to graduate from the nation’s highschools in 2009, according to a recent USA Today article. This would make them the biggest class in U.S. History. They (and their slightly older Gen Y compatriots) will start entering the workforce in 2004. What plans do you have in place to access and attract this formidable group dynamic as both customers and team members?

1 in 3: Business Week and research from the U.S. Census bureau reports the following facts about Generation Y:

  • They were born between 1979 and 1994
  • 60 million strong, they’re more than three times the size of Gen X’ers who were born between1964–1978
  • 1 in 3 is not Caucasian
  • 1 in 4 lives in a single parent household
  • 3 in 4 have working mothers
  • Marketing-wise, they respond to humor, irony, truth and when managing them, remember: “Tell me why before you show me how.”

78: In millions, the number of Baby Boomers (born 1948–1963) in the USA. So as long as we’re discussing demographic trends, stick this topic on your next Marketing meeting agenda: Between 2007 and 2013, according to Technomic research, the 55–64 age group in the USA will grow by 19 million while the 25–34 segment will decline by 1 million. What impacts will that have on your hiring, menu-ing and marketing strategies?

1000 conversations with 20 people: Bob Brown, Regional Manager for the Briad Group’s TGI Friday’s franchises in the Northeast has an insightful take on the elements of a “perfect” shift. “Beyond an energetic and effective pre-shift rally, a great manager has to focus on ways to sustain that momentum through out the shift. He or she must have what we call ‘a thousand conversations with 20 people’—your crew– during the shift.” During those 30 second-and-less conversations you provide praise, direction, constructive feedback, help.

59%: Almost nothing is more devastating to a foodservice operator than a serious incident of contaminated food. Quick, what’s the leading cause of foodborne illness? According to the International Safety Council, the Top 5 contributing factors are: Improper holding temperature (59%), poor personal hygiene (35%), inadequate cooking (28%), contaminated equipment (18%), and unsafe food source (11%).

399+: And while we’re on the topic, a study from the University of Arizona reported in the October 2002 issue of Fast Company magazine says that the standard office desk has 400 times more bacteria that the average toilet seat! According to the report, the worst office-area bacteria hosts were telephones, desktops, and keyboards. So make sure your POS terminals, public and restaurant phones are routinely cleaned and disinfected. In the meantime, your new policy might be: employees must wash their hands before using the bathroom.

30–70: Odds of improving employee retention if your managers have a good time but lack integrity or fail to uniformly implement policies. Fun is futile if you’re not fair. Be tough on standards, easy on people.

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