Business owners hopeful summer will help fill labor shortage, rebound sales

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – After a stressful year, some Central Ohio business owners are hopeful the summer will bring back badly needed revenue and employees.

The changes have been swift for Tom Dailey in the Arena District, as loosening restrictions allowed for a return of office workers and more events at the nearby Nationwide Arena, Huntington Field and Greater Columbus Convention Center.

“We’re definitely seeing pent-up demand by customers who are excited and energized about getting outside,” Dailey said Thursday. “Just in the last week we’ve seen a dramatic lift. In fact, as of today, we’re running 100 percent ahead of last week.”

The sudden rebound in sales has been good for business, but challenging for recruiting enough employees to staff the newly busy stores.

“The bottom line is it’s a supply and demand issue. I think what you have to do when you’re recruiting is be very clear in articulating why you think you’re a better choice to work at than other restaurants.”

Between Dailey’s three Zoup! franchises and a new restaurant, Tasty Dawg, opening this summer, the restaurant owner is looking to hire up to 65 new employees in the next several months. In a nationwide labor shortage, he faces stiff competition from other businesses.

“We try to be as creative there, we try to be creative with schedules, we try to be creative with all of our benefits. We’re trying to be as attractive a place to work as we can,” he said.

Some businesses are offering on-the-spot job offers, hiring bonuses and other incentives. In several downtown Columbus business districts, employees can receive free COTA bus passes or discounted parking.

As school wraps up for high school and college students, many hiring managers are appealing to younger workers to fill staffing needs.

“We do have some high school students that work for us — or people that are just out of high school. We welcome them. And especially in this tight job market, we’d love to talk to them,” Dailey said.

While some businesses have had to limit hours or cut down on available tables because of staffing shortages, Dailey said he’s grateful for the return of customers and optimistic for a summer hiring boom. But he acknowledged the past year has been full of unpredictable challenges.

“When you have a big spike like we’ve experienced over the last week, it’s really hard to anticipate and plan for that,” he said.

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