Chris Christou has been in the hospitality industry since he was a little kid, working in his family’s restaurants. Over the last few years, the young man has worked mostly as a server in the big event catering world. He thinks the way that catering companies hire staff is unfair, and he’s betting that he can use the internet to change the way the industry works, all for the benefit of servers like him, the catering companies that need staff and the clients who ultimately pay for it all.
What Christou proposes is a classic internet business disruption. With Staff Connection TO, his indiegogo.com, crowd sourced start-up project, he intends to get rid of the middleman, who as of now controls the market.
“They’re basically pimps,” Christou explained to GFR on the phone this week, “they take a cut of the servers’ wages, anywhere between 25% and 50%.” He means the large staffing agencies. Since catering companies need to expand and shrink their workforce depending on what business they win going forward, they rely on staffing agencies to supply them with server, one gig at a time. Christou claims that the agencies unfairly exploit the catering companies in two ways: 1) they charge the catering companies far more than the fair market value of what the staffing actually costs (i.e. the servers’ wages); and 2) there’s no way for the catering companies to know the quality of the staff that they’re hiring – they get what they get the night of the event.
As Christou’s video, on Staff Connection TO’s indiegogo page explains, his website connects servers directly to caterers, charging a small flat fee (somewhere between $2 and $5) per hire. In addition, the site includes a rating service and the ability of the caterers to know exactly who they’ve hired for each event.
“Catering is a small world,” Christou said, “there are maybe 30 or 40 people who I know are truly the best.”
Of course ‘SCTO‘ also benefits the servers, who stand to make a higher wage. And through an annual profit sharing or bonus system, good workers stand to be rewarded for good service . Christou claims this is, again, ultimately for the benefit of the catering companies and their clients. He makes a happy worker is a good worker argument: “If you’re throwing a party or having a celebration, the worst thing is to have miserable staff.”
Staff Connection TO is soliciting crowd sourced funding to build their initial website and platform. Click here to see what benefits their offering.
Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley