When we opened our first Love Life Cafe location in Miami, we knew from the beginning we wanted to treat our employees well. Our business is all about helping people live healthier and happier lives. We couldn’t do that if our employees were struggling to make ends meet.
Now that we’re getting ready to open our third location, in Orlando, we’re even more committed to our recipe for success. Paying a fair wage isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s better for business. With fair pay, employees are happier, healthier and more productive, which is exactly why the passage of Amendment 2 is good news for Florida’s businesses.
It’s no secret that very high employee turnover is a big challenge in the restaurant industry. Many restaurant workers face tough working conditions for little pay. It’s difficult to make a long-term job commitment, much less a career in that environment.
This frequent turnover makes no sense for business bottom lines. Constantly hiring and training new employees is expensive. New employees are more likely to make the kind of mistakes that waste product, distract other staff, and alienate customers.
We know that restaurants do better with higher wages and lower turnover. Florida’s current minimum wage is $8.56. We pay well above that with our lowest entry level wage at $11, plus tips. In return, our employees work hard and stay with our restaurants much longer than the typical industry employee.
When you pay living wages and treat employees like they matter, they are able to commit to their jobs and perform better. When you pay people enough to live on, they can come to work and focus on work instead of worrying whether they can make rent this month. They aren’t exhausted from working a second job to get by.
Happier employees keep our customers happy too, and that’s important for building a growing base of repeat customers. With happier employees, we can work better together to deliver the great food that customers expect. And we have a much better sense of what customers want on our menu moving forward.
Businesses with loyal staff and customers and the support of their community are better prepared to adjust and get through this awful pandemic. Businesses that are trying to survive by shortchanging their staff and cutting corners on health and safety are not making a real plan for the future.
Amendment 2 will not increase wages suddenly. The minimum wage will increase gradually, giving businesses time to plan and adjust. The first increase scheduled under Amendment 2 doesn’t take place until September 2021, when the minimum wage will be raised to $10 per hour. It will take five more years for wages to reach $15 in September 2026.
When wages go up, more businesses will begin to experience the benefits that we’ve experienced for years. They’ll see that better pay leads to happier and more productive employees. Costly and distracting turnover will be reduced.
Raising the minimum wage will also increase consumer spending — and that helps our business and the businesses around us. Increasing the buying power of local customers by increasing their wages is a win-win for everyone.
By voting for Amendment 2, Floridians said yes to living wages and widely shared economic recovery. Florida will come out of this pandemic with a stronger minimum wage and a healthier foundation for progress.
We look forward to seeing how better wages make Florida a better place to live, work and own a business.
Veronica Menin and Diego Tosoni are the owners of Love Life Cafe, with two locations in Miami and a third opening soon in Orlando. They are members of Florida Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.