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In the early October, Gaetan Ah Kong, the owner of Chez Gaetan catering company, came into the service manager’s office beaming. “We got the MUT party”, he said enthusiastically while throwing the event order on Sam’s desk. “Great! Sam exclaimed as she picked up the contract and started reading. Instantaneously she realised that the December 20 date was the same as that of four other events for the catering company that night. It was as well the Christmas party week, a hectic calendar time when it came to end of year dinners.

She continued to read the contract and found that she would need 22 staff members and 2 supervisors for the dinner portion of this event alone. Her enthusiasm faded. Earlier the same day there were at least two other events, requiring another 38 service personnel. These plus the other 24 for MUT dinner put her at 62 service staff needed for one evening. That would be paying for approximately 400 man hours in one night.

Unfortunately, the events on December 20 were too significant just to send warm bodies. Service staffs with skills were required; there was no room for bad service. Where were these people going to come from? Catering in La Tour Koenig is extremely seasonal and it is very difficult to maintain a full service staff at any given time because the work is so inconsistent. One week someone could work 40 hours, then for a month there would be no hours. Tourism and hospitality are the top industries in La Tour Koenig. There are a huge number of restaurants and lodging facilities. La Tour Koenig is the home of several small universities, one culinary school, one military school, one medical school, and several community colleges. One of the universities provides a culinary programme and an associate degree in tourism hospitality. The University of Technology, Mauritius is 15 km away and offers a Bachelor of Science degree in hotel, tourism administration, and restaurant.

There are two hospitality-staffing companies in the area. Neither is characteristically reliable, providing average, untrained staff. Staffs show up in variety of styles of black and white uniforms, if they show up at all. Working with the staffing companies is kind of like rolling the dice- you never really know what you are going to get. By using a staffing company, the labour expense is raised.

(a) How does a company maintain part-time staff when there is not enough work to keep them busy all year round?

(b) What policies and procedures, if any, could be put in place to avoid this condition in the future?

(c) Is there a way to fully staff these events devoid of negatively affecting the service or budget?

(d) What is the effect of using untrained staff?

(e) How do you train temporary staff to get them up to your standards?

(f) How does a service manager better prepare for such problem?

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