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Always Be Recruiting
That’s one way to find job candidates even when the applications aren’t coming in.
Here are today’s highlights:
Will pickleball save retail? Let’s ask the Pickleheads at the Picklemall.
For many businesses, the labor shortage is still here.
The housing market seems to be signaling the start of an expansion.
What do you do when inflation exceeds 100 percent? Go out to eat!
In Pennsylvania, a family-owned amusement park has an unusual business model: “Amid the clickety-clack of wooden roller coasters at Knoebels, the occasional scream from a haunted mansion, and the circus-like symphony marching out of the old Wurlitzer organ, there’s an unexpected silence. It’s the sound of people not complaining about amusement park food. You can’t hear it outside the baked potato kiosk, with its eight topping options, or at any of the pierogi stands, where you can get them deep fried or swimming in butter and onions. In a food court by the Phoenix wooden roller coaster, few people eating a ‘tiger tail’ can explain what it is, because they’re licking their fingers. ‘Well, it’s a pretzel rolled in cinnamon with caramel and chocolate drizzled across it,’ said Tony Rodriguez, the food and beverage director at the 150-acre park.”
“Knoebels, about 130 miles northwest of Philadelphia, may have the least-captive audience of any amusement park in America as well. For starters, there’s free parking and free admission. Guests pay only for the rides they go on, or simply walk around. Park visitors can bring their own food or grill in the vast, covered picnic area. There’s an adjacent campground and cottage rentals for overnight stays. Some locals treat the park like an open-air food court.”
“The family-owned amusement park was voted ‘Best Food’ for the 2022 Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards. Knoebels isn’t just a one-and-done champion, though. Since 2000, Knoebels has won the award 19 times. The park is the veritable New York Yankees of amusement food.”
“While some of Knoebels’ food, including pickles, corn dogs, pork chops, bacon, and fried cheese, can be served on a stick, the park also has a sit-down, full menu restaurant called the Alamo.”
“‘People come down here just for dinner quite a lot,’ said Eileen Murdock, the park’s director of human resources. ‘Some never even go on the rides.’” READ MORE
Is pickleball the answer to for retail vacancies? “An Old Navy at a mall in New Hampshire transformed into the All-Star Pickleball Club last December and is a draw for players from as far as Massachusetts. Pickleball America leased over 80,000 square feet in what used to be a former Saks Off 5th location in Connecticut. Outside of St. Louis, pickleball courts are taking over a former Bed Bath & Beyond. There’s even a startup—appropriately titled Picklemall—dedicated exclusively to transforming shuttered shopping areas nationwide into thriving sport courts. Could the same thing happen at the recently collapsed Westfield San Francisco Centre? Probably not—but not for a lack of local love for the ascendant sport, which has exploded in popularity in recent years. The San Francisco Pickleball Community emerged around five years ago as a small cadre of about two dozen active players, but it’s since grown to more than 2,000. And it’s only poised to get bigger.”
“There are now more than 36 million pickleball players in the U.S. and—despite some associating the sport with seniors—the largest percentage of players is in the age bracket of 18-34, according to the organization Pickleheads.”
“A report by JLL, an organization that tracks trends in retail spaces, says pickleball court developers are targeting malls for expansion—and so far it’s been a success nationally. ‘It’s a no-brainer for any space that’s underutilized,’ said Brandon Mackie, co-founder of Pickleheads. ‘Pickleball is consistently outstripping the supply in almost every market that we track.’”
“While the idea of pickleball in empty retail spaces feels like a perfect solution, it has to pencil out. As it stands now, pickleball is not a huge revenue generator. Most players are looking for courts where they can play for free and even paid courts, like the ones in Golden Gate Park, cost under $20 an hour, split among four people.” READ MORE
How often do you find the perfect candidate at the perfect time? “[Bill] Catlette, partner at Contented Cow, a leadership and employee engagement firm, said it's pivotal for businesses to constantly nurture relationships with sources of applicants and to be on the lookout for fresh faces — even when you don't have openings. ‘Smart leaders never stop selling, and you shouldn't stop recruiting either. What are the odds of the perfect job candidate having a hole in their dance card at the exact moment you happen to have an opening? Rare indeed. Keep the welcome mat out,’ Catlette said. While that advice may sound basic, it's an area many employers are struggling with in the post-Covid-19 era. Factors like the growth of remote work and a rapidly evolving economy have made it easy to take an eye off the ball.”
“A National Federation of Independent Business survey found 63 percent of business owners tried to hire in May — and 89 percent of those reported few or no qualified applicants for those positions. Many businesses are finding that out the hard way.”
“‘In most industries in the American workforce, there simply aren’t enough W2 employees for the jobs that are out there,’ said Jennifer Morehead, CEO at Flex HR. ‘I think it’s important to be creative about what your work team looks like.’”
“It might sound simple, but removing barriers for people to apply for your jobs could boost your candidates, said Kendra Nicastro, director of business development and marketing at LeaderStat.”
“‘Most candidates are applying from their phones, so asking a candidate to complete an application that asks for their entire employment history and references will result in fewer completed applications,’ Nicastro said. ‘Take a fresh look at your application process and make adjustments as needed.’” READ MORE
For many businesses, the labor shortage continues to be the biggest concern: “With summer hiring season in full swing, small business owners such as Alison Schuch have lingering concerns about filling roles to meet consumer demand. Labor quality was the most important problem for nearly a quarter of National Federation of Independent Business, or NFIB, members surveyed in May, according to the small business advocacy organization. Labor quality has fluctuated between being the No. 1 and the No. 2 most important issue for NFIB members in recent months. The sectors where businesses are feeling the labor shortage most acutely include construction, transportation and manufacturing, but retail and restaurant owners are also reporting challenges.”
“As summer arrives, Alison Schuch, owner of Fells Point Surf Co., is down about 10 workers at her two beach retail locations as a perfect storm of reasons drives a post-pandemic hiring crunch. A lack of affordable summer housing, scant child-care availability, inflation and the rebalancing of work and life in recent years have combined to make the applicant pool different from what it once was.”
“Brendan McCluskey said he’s feeling the lack of talent available for hire in his Baltimore construction business, Trident Builders. Finding skilled workers is among the biggest issues he said he currently has in a competitive landscape, and the shortage is driving wages higher.”
“‘We’re on the precipice of having some real opportunities for growth, and [the concern is] am I going to be able to staff it?’ McCluskey said. ‘I’m trying to get to the next level and almost like the next weight class, and which would allow us to stabilize our revenues, grow, invest in people, invest in systems, frankly, just make more money.’” READ MORE
The U.S. population is older than ever: “The median age in the United States reached a record high of 38.9 in 2022, according to data released Thursday by the Census Bureau. It’s a rapid rise. In 2000, the median age was 35, and in 1980, the median was 30. While many 38-year-old millennials may still feel young, that age is an unusually high median for the country. The new data adds to the evidence that, like many European and Asian nations, the United States is graying, posing challenges for the work force, the economy and social programs.”
“Low birthrates are the main driver of the nation’s rising median age, experts said. ‘It’s simple arithmetic,’ said Andrew A. Beveridge, president of Social Explorer, a demographic data firm. ‘Fewer kids are being born.’”
“Birth rates fell steeply in the first year or so of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, they have ticked up. Still, since the beginning of the Great Recession, in 2007, fertility has remained very low compared with previous generations.”
“Among states, Maine (44.8 median age) is the oldest, with New Hampshire (43.3) not far behind. Utah (31.9), the District of Columbia (34.8) and Texas (35.5) are the youngest, according to the Census Bureau.”
“Immigration has historically kept the United States young, as immigrants are generally working-age adults and often have more children than native-born Americans. While immigration has recovered from rock-bottom levels during the pandemic, it has, overall, slowed since 2016.” READ MORE
The housing market offers reason for optimism: “Recent strength in the housing market suggests that the U.S. economy may have dodged a recession, according to Carson Group global macro strategist Sonu Varghese. In a Wednesday note, he highlighted strong data on housing starts, which surged 21.7 percent in May to 1.63 million units, posting its biggest percentage gain in three decades. That's a big deal because weakness — not strength — in housing starts data has historically foreshadowed recessions. Housing starts measure the groundbreaking of a foundation and precedes sales of new homes as well as spending on home goods and appliances. It also tells you a lot about home builders' sentiment, which has been rising since the start of the year.”
“‘Housing historically bottomed prior to the end of a recession and has typically led the economy out of one... Homebuilder sentiment, perhaps the best leading indicator for housing activity, has been surging since the end of last year. They're clearly feeling much better about future demand,’ Varghese said.”
“‘Single-family starts surged 19 percent in May. Meanwhile, economists expected a small fall in starts, once again highlighting the disconnect between what's happening in the economy and expectations,’ he said, adding that building permits jumped 5 percent in May and are up 13 percent since November. ‘Builders wouldn't be looking to get new construction authorized if they were pessimistic about the housing market.’” READ MORE
It could be worse here: “Britain’s inflation rate held steady in May, frustrating expectations that price increases would slow down, according to data released Wednesday, the day before the country’s central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates again. Consumer prices rose 8.7 percent from a year earlier, the same as in April, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists had forecast that prices would dip slightly. The data is likely to compound concerns that Britain’s cost-of-living crisis may intensify in the coming months as mortgage holders confront the burden of higher interest rates pushed through to tackle stubbornly strong inflation.” READ MORE
And then there’s Argentina: “In Buenos Aires, Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital, a world-class culinary scene is flourishing. That would not necessarily be news if it were not for the fact that Argentina is in the middle of an extraordinary financial crisis. Inflation is at more than 114 percent — the fourth highest rate in the world — and the street value of the Argentine peso has crumbled, dropping about 25 percent over a three-week period in April.”
“Yet it is the peso’s downfall that is fueling the restaurant industry’s upswing. Argentines are eager to get rid of the currency as quickly as they can, and that means the middle and upper classes are going out to eat more often — and that restaurateurs and chefs are plunging their revenues back into new restaurants.”
“‘Crises are opportunities,’ said Jorge Ferrari, a longtime restaurant owner who recently reopened a historic German eatery that had shut down during the pandemic. ‘There are people who buy cryptocurrencies. There are people who go toward other sorts of capital markets. This is what I know how to do.’”
“The boom, in a way, is a facade. Everyone appears to be out having a good time. Yet, in much of the country, Argentines are scraping by and hunger is on the rise.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Twelve Hours a Day, Six Days a Week: This week, we meet Jennifer Kerhin, the newest addition to the 21 Hats Podcast team. Jennifer’s business, SB Expos and Events, is an event-management business that survived the shut down in 2020 and has grown to more than $3 million a year in revenue. When Covid first hit, Jennifer tells Jay Goltz, she really thought it would put her out of business; in the end, she says, it made her stronger. Even so, she is very much stuck working in her business, while looking for ways to extract herself from day-to-day tasks someone else could handle. But how do you free yourself up enough so that you have the time to put the people and systems in place that you know you need? And how long should that take? “I hate to tell you,” says Jay, “it took me 10 years, but I'm going to help you here, so it's going to take you 10 months.”
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Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren