“For the first time, we were seeing some of their people migrate over to us saying, ‘Hey, we heard what you guys are doing, and we want to be a part of it,’” Coerver says. “We are raising the bar on the talent and skill level that is working for P. Terry's. And that should obviously have a benefit to the guest, as well, but through a more consistent and improved experience. So for us, this just makes sense on several levels.”
Coerver recalls seeing people on social media respond to P. Terry’s minimum wage increase with claims the restaurant will cut people’s hours. But the chain is actually experiencing more of its part-time workforce move into full-time hourly employment because they want the $15 per hour. P. Terry’s encourages that because when a majority of employees are part-time, the restaurant’s scheduling is challenged by workers needing time for school, a second job, or other matters. More full-time employees result in a dependable, reliable workforce, Coerver says.
The pay raise doesn’t mean P. Terry’s is leaving out the more highly compensated workers either. Lifting the floor for all full-time employees was just the first step. The burger chain is now in the midst of improving the next pay level because leadership knows there should be separation. It’s just that the company couldn’t do an increase throughout the workforce overnight.
"Once we had that conversation with everyone, they understood,” Coerver says. “And we said, ‘Don't worry, we're going to get to you, but the company needs to also be fiscally responsible in how we make this move, so we can all continue to enjoy our jobs.’ And so, once we had that very transparent conversation with them, they understood, and we just asked for their patience.”
Opponents have also suggested that a higher minimum wage would bar unskilled labor, such as teenagers, from gaining employment. But Coerver describes this as another “empty excuse for not doing the right thing.” To him, the beauty of the restaurant industry is that it’s open to anybody that comes in with hustle, a solid work ethic, and a great attitude. If someone supplies each of those characteristics, the CEO says P. Terry’s will train the other skills.