If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that the only certain thing is uncertainty. It’s something that Toronto-based Encore Catering, like so many other hospitality businesses, knows all too well.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit and events disappeared, Encore’s headcount sharply decreased.
But as business began to trickle in, they found that hiring staff had become much more challenging. With the gap between demand for Encore’s services and the team’s capacity widening, owner David Silber knew they needed to make a change.
Challenge: Lack of staff & tight margins force Encore to leave money on the table
Prior to the pandemic, Silber said, “you had a massive workforce of hundreds of people looking for a job every day.” But soon, “[COVID] shrunk that pool of labor… it kind of went from 100 to zero overnight.”
For some time, there was nearly no business at all — but when it did return, Encore didn’t have the staff they needed to power their business.
“When [business] came back, it came back with massive demands for labor, but there wasn’t a supply to meet it,” Silber said.
Even as people did come back, he found that reliability wasn’t what it used to be. “Before COVID, I never had anybody not show up… everyone was really thankful that they had this job, and people took it seriously,” Silber shared.
And booking extra staffers to compensate for potential no-shows wasn’t a realistic option.
“There's no margin in having an event with three servers and booking for five just in case somebody doesn't come,” Silber said. "I can't afford to overbook people.”
In search of a solution, Silber opted for Instawork.
Solution: Booking & managing staff on Instawork
One of the initial things that attracted Silber to Instawork was the fact that it would cut back on operational overhead.
“My biggest thing was just not having to make 75 additional paychecks every two weeks… I'm charging the clients, you're charging me for the labor, it’s really, really simple. That was a big plus for me,” Silber said.
The idea of managing scheduling and payroll all on one central platform was enough to convince Silber to get his existing team onto Instawork. Initially, he worried it might be difficult to convince them to sign up. But once his staff learned they could be paid immediately after a shift, they were eager to download the app.
"It was really important to entice the staff. And the best enticement was to make sure that they got paid right away.” - David Silber, owner of Encore Catering
“If you tell someone that they're going to get paid hours after their shift — as opposed to getting a check in the mail or having to come to our offices to pick it up — that's all they care about.”
And of course, he drew from Instawork’s pool of flexible labor to find staffers too.
“We’ve definitely had some great people I didn't know [before] that started to work with us through Instawork,” Silber said.
Between his existing staff and the new Instawork Pros, Silber was able to build out a bench of high-performers to staff his events.
“When we have an event, I go through with my coordinators in my office and try to select the best staff from our roster to make for the best event,” Silber shared. “I'm the event producer to make it all jive well.”
Results: More business & less overhead
Since partnering with Instawork, Encore Catering has been able to take on significantly more business. And they’ve found it to be a better solution in a number of different ways. For one, Silber appreciates the visibility it gives him and his team, which helps them suss out the best workers.
“When you have people coming to work for you, they're representing your brand.” Silber said.
With Instawork, he and his team are able to view Professionals’ profiles before they book them. Their ratings also serve as “a great check and balance” to evaluate quality, he said.
“For me, the staff at an event are a connection from my brand to the customer, to the guests. So it's really, really important for me to at least know their names and phone numbers and qualifications. That felt much better,” Silber said. “We know who’s coming to the job, as opposed to having no idea what their capabilities and strong suits are.”
And he’s been impressed with the Instawork Pros he’s worked with so far.
“There was a loyalty to the brand, and they were doing an amazing job because they knew that they were working for me.” - David Silber, owner of Encore Catering
Throughout their partnership with Instawork, Silber said he and his team have gotten incredible support.
“I'm very hands-on as an operator. I will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make sure I’m doing everything that I can to make my client’s event successful,” Silber said. The account manager he’s been working with at Instawork “has made it very, very easy.”
“That support from our account manager has definitely been appreciated... She’s been amazing and I think she's a very valuable asset.” - David Silber, owner of Encore Catering
All in all, Silber summed up his experience with Instawork like this: “Do I think Instawork is great? I do.”