In January 2019, Robert Wiggins needed about 50 people for his various restaurants. When he advertised, he had 250 applications come in. Today, April 9, 2021, he desperately needs between fifty and sixty people, but very few people are applying, even though he offered twenty-five dollars to people who merely filled out applications. The money didn’t depend on whether or not they were hired.
“We’ve just reopened Hardee’s,” he said, “and we can’t get help. I’m going to have to close Hardee’s after breakfast on Sunday because I don’t have enough help to keep it open. Some people make up for the lack of help by working in the restaurant themselves, but I can’t work in several at one time, and I need help in just about everyone I own.”
Wiggins said that an unhappy customer called him to complain about his Huddle House in Hazlehurst. He had visited it the night before and found the tables to be dirty.
“The problem is that I have three waitresses up there, and I need six,” Wiggins said. “They were trying to get the food out to people and then they could clean the tables. People don’t understand though and complain. I’m having to close the lobby of the Huddle House at 10 p.m., and that’s prime time for that restaurant. The business is there, but I need people to serve the customers. You’re going to see lots of businesses closing if things don’t change. Fortunately, the managers have hung with us.”
Wiggins also stated that not only restaurants are having trouble getting help; so are trailer plants, places that need carpenters, and other such businesses. The eagerness to work from years past has disappeared.
Other owners totally agree with the problem of getting good help or help at all for that matter. One who preferred not to be named said that something is happening in this country that has changed the very structure of small business—maybe even big business, and some of the managers/owners think too much money is coming from the government. People don’t really need to work because the government is taking care of them and their families. The latest Stimulus Check just arrived for $1400, but that’s not much money in the long run. However, there’s also a variety of Unemployment checks as well. When money is pouring in from Washington, what’s the point of working right now? Statistics show that most people in the United States live from pay day to pay day, so if the money stops, then people might be forced to go back to work. The will to work and the pride in hard work seems to have disappeared as well. It was once a part of the American approach to life.
One owner recently hired fifteen people and seven of them quit before their first day was over. How does one run a business without employees? The answer to that is quite simple. One doesn’t.