opening a coffee shop plan

With an estimated 16.5 million Americans working in “alternative work arrangements,” or independent and on-call jobs like driving for Uber or Lyft, it’s clear these “alternatives” are, for many, becoming the norm. In their second annual Self Employment Report, the folks at FreshBooks, who predict that the number of self-employed professionals could triple by 2020, call it “a significant shift in the American workforce.”

This makes sense given what we know about Millennials and their tech-savvy Gen Z successors. Both groups yearn for control over their careers, and are much more likely than previous generations to pass on corporate ladders and cubicles for the opportunity to dictate how, when, and where they work.

Growing dissent for traditional work arrangements, combined with a shrinking labor pool and high turnover rates, creates challenges for the food service industry. But before you condemn the gig economy for “Uber-izing” restaurants, hear us out: There are ways to make this employment trend work for you.

From healthcare and food delivery to transportation, travel, and e-commerce, the gig economy is changing the modern work climate and what consumers expect of and from businesses today.

What is the Gig Economy, Anyway?

Sometimes known as the sharing or the collaborative economy, the gig economy sits opposite a conventional 9-to-5 job. Workers register for digital platforms where they can pick up individual “gigs” suited to their skills and schedules. These workers are not considered full-time or even part-time employees, but rather contractors with the authority and autonomy to lead a life by design.

The gig economy has become tremendously popular in recent years; new app-based platforms are popping up all the time. From healthcare and food delivery to transportation, travel, and e-commerce, the gig economy is changing the modern work climate and what consumers expect of and from businesses today.

phone in restaurant 

How Gig Economy Jobs Can Help Restaurateurs

Much of what has been written about gig economy jobs and the hospitality sector focuses on labor, which is not surprising considering that employee recruitment and retention tends to sit at the top of the list of problems restaurants face. However, there’s more to the restaurant gig economy than cutting costs through on-demand table service. Here are a few examples of other areas where a gig economy worker might just fit the bill:

  1. Graphic designBecause we know that Gen Zers are big for brand, having a striking visual identity becomes all the more important. If your logo or your menu design are looking a bit dated, an on-demand graphic designer can give you the refresh you need to catch your customer’s eye.  
  2. Digital marketing support – The average American spends almost 24 hours online each week, which means if you aren’t online, you’re doing it wrong. Not sure where to start? Hire an on-demand digital marketer to help you build an Instagram campaign that’s sure to convert.  
  3. Product descriptions – OpenTable surveyed 6,000 of its customers and learned that 86 percent always or frequently checked out a restaurant’s menu before placing an order. Enlisting an on-demand copywriter to add a bit of personality to your menu items can be the deciding factor between you and that other pizza joint.  

So where can you find these workers? When it comes to choosing a platform, you’re pretty spoiled for choice. Some popular examples include Fiverr (they even have a dedicated restaurant services page), TaskRabbit, Upwork, and PeoplePerHour.

Have you ever hired on-demand services for your restaurant? If so, share your experiences in the comments below.

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Written by   |  
Jessica Reimer is the Content Producer for 7shifts, an employee scheduling app designed for restaurant based in beautiful Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She works with the rest of the 7shifts marketing team to help their customers all over the world save time scheduling, reduce labor costs, and improve communication in their businesses. Jessica has authored feature pieces and blog posts for a number of provincial, national, and international publications and specializes in psychology, community engagement, lifestyle, and business communications.