19 July 2011

A Letter to CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc - in response to a reduction in Certified Trainer benefits

One of the few benefits of being a Certified Trainer at Old Chicago's is the "QAP" card. This card, which has $300 loaded on it every quarter, allows Certified Trainers to eat for 70% off, up to the limit of the $300. It is considered income (tho we're not taxed on it - yet) and makes up for (supposedly) the times we train and are not collecting tips. It's also meant as a recognition for experience and responsibility. Well - that's all changed now. With the merger into CraftWorks, we're losing stuff (we gained stuff, like direct deposit, but not much). And so this is a letter I recently sent to CraftWorks in response to the latest round of losing stuff.

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July 18, 2011

Good afternoon. I received the letter informing me of the new QAP limits and I am a little concerned about the new program.



First of all, I received the letter on July 14th and the letter stated that the new program would be implemented July 11th. This is not sufficient notice of a major change to a program that is one of the few benefits of taking on the responsibility of training new team members.



Second, the original $300 every quarter was almost sufficient as a bonus for assuming additional responsibility. $300 a quarter broke down to $100 a month which then broke down to either $25.00 or $20.00 a week additional "income", depending on how many weeks were in a particular month. I could reconcile this amount for making up for not receiving minimum wage when doing the days in the training which did not involve tips (Expo training, POS training). At $4.26 an hour for POS and Expo training, the QAP card made up for this - almost.



Third, the new limit of $200 every quarter is insulting for the care, time and responsibility I assume as a Certified Trainer for Old Chicago's. $200 a quarter breaks down to $66.66 a month, $16.66/$13.33 a week and doesn't even begin to come close to reaching minimum wage in "income" when conducting Expo or POS training.



I became a Certified Trainer because I believe in the culture of Old Chicago, believe that every team member has the right to be trained to standards and by the best representatives of the restaurant. I take my job seriously, enjoy sharing my knowledge and thrive on being one of the few who assume responsibility for someone else's professional growth within the restaurant. I love my Old Chicago restaurant, respect my managers and fellow trainers and enjoy working with all the team members at my store. I always felt I was an important and respected member of the entire Rock Bottom Restaurant company and the QAP card was one way that Corporate showed their respect to me. However, I am now not quite so content with Corporate or the lack of concern for all personnel receiving the QAP benefit.



When a Certified Host Trainer conducts training, they receive no loss of income - they continue to make their hourly wage. When I conduct Expo or POS training, I take a large cut in pay as I am not out on the floor. The QAP card, as was explained to me, was to make up for the loss of income and the fact that Expo and POS training were only 2 hours each, it should come out even. However, when I serve, I generally make between $14.00 to $20.00 an hour, depending on volume and tip revenue. The $4.92 per hour (average - including a percentage of the QAP card benefit) that I make conducting Expo or POS training is well below my minimum and is below the state and federal minimum wage. This cannot be a logical step for a company that states it is concerned for the well-being of its personnel.



I understand the need to streamline business practices and ensure that a company is running economically sound. Skimping out on your staff, however, is not an ethical or sustainable way to do it. If you are going to reduce our QAP to the point where it is no longer "income" but a gesture, steps need to be made to ensure that Certified Trainers are appropriately recompensed for their time and expertise. When a tip employee conducts training that prohibits them from collecting tips, minimum wage should be the standard. Or, restore the QAP limits to a level in which it is actual income.



When I received the letter, I seriously considered stepping down from the Certified Trainer program - if a company doesn't respect my knowledge and recognize the additional responsibility, why should I even bother? However, I know that if I back out of the program, I will only hurt my store and leave them in a bind. My personal ethics will not allow me to leave more work for someone else and I refuse to punish my store for policies that are out of their control. I think it would be wise for CraftWorks to reevaluate their new QAP program. If you are going to stick with the new limits, as I am sure you are, you should ensure that the Certified Trainers, who happily assume more responsibility and are the bedrock of foundation for new members, are properly recognized and recompensed for this role.