Lessons for the healthcare industry from a fried chicken entrepreneur
On a recent episode of the Voices in Healthcare Finance podcast, HFMA President and CEO Joe Fifer interviewed Joe DeLoss, a social entrepreneur and owner of Hot Chicken Takeover, a fast casual restaurant with six locations in Ohio. DeLoss will be delivering a keynote address at HFMA’s upcoming Revenue Cycle Conference. He and Fifer discussed the lessons healthcare organizations can take from other industries as well as DeLoss’s unique approach to hiring and benefits.
A “fair chance employer”
DeLoss describes his business as a combination of his two passions: entrepreneurship and community service. Hot Chicken Takeover not only focuses on delivering a good product but also on hiring and developing people who have been affected by adversity such as incarceration, addiction or homelessness. DeLoss said he strives to provide “supportive and transformational work practices that we’re able to empower our team for a lot of personal success alongside a lot of professional success.”
Part of that effort is offering benefits that are appropriate for his workers, he said.
“Benefits have to be hyper-relevant and aligned to where somebody’s at in their life,” he said. For example, an entry-level employee who is worried about making rent and doesn’t own a car won’t necessarily want something like a 401(k), where they won’t access for decades funds they’re saving.
“It’s not relevant to where somebody’s at because they’re not at a point in their life where they’re in a position to have the privilege of long-term planning,” he said. “We do have 401(k)s, but we also have short-term match savings programs. So if you’re investing in education or a healthcare expense or a child expense or transportation expense, we will match a certain amount of money.”
Understanding and responsiveness to the lives employees lead outside of work can make employees more loyal, DeLoss said. In an industry with annual turnover rates of 120%-150%, Hot Chicken Takeover has a turnover rate of about 40%. That loyalty in turn can beget loyal customers because continuity of service is greater, he said.
“Continuity goes a long way,” he said. “And I have to imagine, particularly in [healthcare] where you’re likely encountering some patients that are in times of stress … you and your teams can start standing up as trusted resources that are delivering hospitality in a way that feels secure and stable.”
Another important aspect of leadership is providing frequent and meaningful feedback, DeLoss said. Annual performance reviews aren’t useful in a workplace with high turnover, so implementing more frequent feedback is important. In addition, making it clear to staff where the opportunities lie within an organization and how to move up can help engage employees and help them envision future job opportunities with their employer.