International College Student and Cape Coral Restaurateur's Study Selected For Prestigious Conference

International College graduate student and Taco Bell restaurateur Gordon Guerrieri knows first hand how difficult it can be to retain good, hardworking employees.

“The largest problem that continues to plague the quick service industry and creates major drains of profit and human resources is employee turnover,” said Guerrieri, 46, of Cape Coral. “Quick service companies can retain their most desirable employees by recognizing their contributions to the organization.”

Guerrieri’s directed studies paper on service operations management was selected as one of 380 papers to be presented at the prestigious Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) annual international conference in San Francisco, Calif., April 5-8.

His paper, entitled, “Employee Retention in the Quick Service Industry,” focuses on the retention challenges facing today’s quick service organizations and describes how recognition is an effective tool that can motivate and retain employees.

The conference attracts distinguished speakers from academia as well as speakers from various sectors of the high tech industry, ranging from computers to software development. The focus of this year’s conference is on production and operations management.

International College Professor Don Forrer said he was impressed that Guerrieri’s paper was accepted for the conference.

“It’s hard to get accepted to these types of conferences, especially one this prestigious,” said Forrer, who encouraged Guerrieri to submit the paper and who will present the paper on his behalf. “Employee retention is one of the hardest things to do correctly in an organization. Gordon has some good ideas on how to keep employees in an industry when it’s not that easy.”

Guerrieri said he is honored by the recognition.

“It’s probably the biggest achievement that I have participated in, in my entire life. It’s important that Dr. Forrer is presenting it. He is clearly a role model,” he said.

Guerrieri owns the Cape Coral-based Guerrieri Restaurant Management Company, which oversees 20 Taco Bell restaurants spanning from Sun City to Tampa. He graduated from International College in 1999 summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Management. He is now working toward a master’s degree in business administration.

Real-life circumstances drove Guerrieri to write the study. From September 2000 to September 2001, Guerrieri’s company saw a 234 percent employee turnover rate. The industry average was a 200 percent turnover rate. Shortly thereafter, Guerrieri conducted a survey polling the 400 people in his organization to find out why turnover was occurring. What he found was that employees wanted recognition.

“They wanted a thank you. They wanted to be recognized when they worked hard,” he said. “It wasn’t that we weren’t recognizing people before, but they wanted more of it.”

Guerrieri then created a strategy to address the issue. For example, he started a monthly employee recognition honor. Area coaches, district managers and office staff also went through different seminars and training classes to become better “people” persons. Guerrieri and managers now walk into a restaurant and address every employee with a greeting.

The ongoing plan is working. As of March 22, figures show that employee turnover fell 100 percent to a 134 percent turnover rate. Guerrieri is pleased with the results, but won’t be satisfied until there is a 0 percent turnover rate.

“Our employees are much smarter than they were before,” he said. “Managers and the working environment need to adjust to that.”

Forrer also will present his own case study “Utility Rate Forecasting.” This case study examines errant forecasts in a utility rate study. It concentrates on four issues that led to the forecasting model producing inaccurate results: installation of sewers that were behind schedule; underestimated growth rate; use of erroneous data; and slow irrigation systems
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