Detroit fast food joint Moo Cluck Moo pays a living wage of $15/hour – and makes a profit!

Doing well by doing good

This story refutes absolutely everything corporatists and companies whose business model requires the lowest labor costs possible want you to believe. According to them, there is no way fast food joints can succeed, turn a profit, and grow if they are forced to pay their workers a living wage. “Nobody will pay for burgers that cost a few cents more!” they cry. “These unskilled workers don’t deserve to be paid more!” they tell us.

Detroit-based Moo Cluck Moo is disproving that every single day. Here’s their story (from a terrific piece at The Daily Beast):

In August, I spoke with the owners of Moo Cluck Moo, a Detroit-area burger and chicken fast-food joint that is aiming to do something revolutionary: pay far more than the minimum wage. In an industry that treats labor as a commodity, co-owners Brian Parker and Harry Moorhouse decided to turn the conventional wisdom on its head. They’d start workers at $12 an hour, and design their business so that it could run profitably at those wages. Rather than take advantage of the epic slack in the Detroit-area labor market, they’d aim to set a slightly higher standard. […]

Now, Moo Cluck Moo is doubling down on its high-wage strategy. Brian Parker says that beginning October 1, the company will start employees at $15 an hour. That’s a 25 percent increase from $12, and it represents the living wage level that workers are demanding and that many critics regard as foolish. […]

First, he believes his employees deserve it. Working at a quick-service restaurant is a difficult, demanding job. People have to multi-task. They’re coping with long lines and expectations of rapid service. These are the people who take care of the customers, and this is a competitive business in which customer service matters a great deal. “It’s not an easy job to do,” said Parker. “We’ve got a line out the door.”

And while Moo Cluck Moo has only been in business since the spring, Parker believes higher wages lead to better results. “We’ve had very low turnover,” said Parker. “Of the people that are working for us, we don’t have anybody disgruntled.” Over the weekend, three customers came up to Parker, without prompting, and thanked him for the quality of the customer service. Paying people more means you spend less time firing, hiring, and training. And Parker and Moorhouse would prefer to spend their time thinking about the business than supervising employees. “If I have to babysit these people, I’m a high priced baby-sitter.”

See how that works? You pay people a fair wage, treat them with dignity, and you get loyal employees that will go the extra distance to treat your customers well and make sure they get the service they want. The customers then come back. They tell their friends. Your business grows (Moo Cluck Moo is planning to expand soon, by the way) and you make money.

It’s not that difficult but all the B-school geniuses running the corporate world can’t seem to get their minds around it. Rather than seeing paying people a living wage as an investment that’s every bit as important as marketing or product development research or high-salary CEOs, they see it as a foolhardy waste of money on people who don’t deserve it and are a dime a dozen. If someone doesn’t like their paltry paycheck, they can hit the road, Jack, because there is a Jill in line right behind them salivating for a job, any job. At any pay.

Somehow they missed out on the calculus of human resource management that puts a price tag — a not-insignificant price tag, mind you — on the costs of turnover. It costs money to hire and train new people and those costs aren’t always obvious. And that doesn’t take into account the lost business resulting from crappy service from disgruntled employees who are treated like the disposable utensils they put in your Burger Whop bag.

Kudos to Brian Parker and Harry Moorhouse for both figuring it out and for being good human beings. If you’re in the Detroit area and have a hankering for a burger or a chicken sandwich and some fries and a shake, why not choose them over their worker-exploiting competitors? Let’s reward them for being good and decent and clever like a fox.

You can find them at 8606 N. Telegraph Road in Dearborn Heights.

You can also like them on Facebook HERE.

[CC Hell Yeah sign image by eclecticlibrarian \ Flickr]

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  • judyms9

    Moo Cluck Moo is not a typical fast-food place. The food costs a little more but is healthier, better prepared, and tastier than the chicken and burgers sold at the well known franchises. They’ve got it right about their help though. It’s the Costco model rather than the Walmart model. The staff will be more reliable, efficient and more cordial. I have walked away from fast food counters because I didn’t want to add to the pressure and befuddlement of people just learning their jobs when the lunch crowd starts to queue up.

  • darth vader

    yet not even open a year. so where is the profit? they did not reinvent the
    wheel. if it could be done,before it would have. it is very simple ? $1.00 in sales
    =30cents for labor and 35cents for food=35cents for rent,insurance,tax,water,
    trash,advertising,electric,etc. so they have 10 working 1 hour=$150 just in labor!
    12 hour day=?? about $1,000 in labor cost. this is just more liberal nonsense.
    they think there so smart. there is a reason pay is low in these places. if your
    profit is 6-8 cents on a dollar your doing very well. These guy will not be around
    long. sorry

    • (moo cluck moo)

      Pure genius “darth” – thanks for the words of encouragement. Not only have we been profitable since only our third month in business……we’re opening 3 more locations by Spring 2014. August was great, September was better and we’re killing it in October to the point where we can’t wait to see what November brings…..our only regret? We didn’t do this sooner.

      • Joe Crowe

        Did the free advertising help?

  • Joe Crowe

    This is an ‘old’ story, but one that is still quite relevant, considering current events…

    This story doesn’t refute anything. It merely adds to conservative arguments that the free market is the best option if you want people to have options for a better life. If Moo-Cluck-Moo can do this, it’s great. If people are FORCED BY THE CONTROLS OF GOVERNMENT TO OPERATE THEIR BUSINESSES THROUGH THE MECHANISM OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF AUTHORITARIAN SOCIALISM IN THE FLY-TRAPPING HONEYED WORDS OF ‘COMMON GOOD’ INTEREST OF NATIONALISM, it is FASCISM (but I digress none). Moo-Cluck-Moo has freely realized that, as a small business less subject to the oppressions of progressive taxation, they can provide a good experience AND retain good employees through COMPARATIVELY higher pay – unless they continue to manage to succeed to the point of growth, of course. By doing so, they can demand better quality from their workers than big chain food places can typically offer.

    That said, there are some who will miss the point and assume that sauce for a goose is sauce for a Thai/kosher fish sauce contest is sauce for a wet-rub/pulled pork because sauce is sauce is ‘equally’ sauce right? And despite one consisting of cheap applesauce and ripple, another consisting of grape-wine vinegar made from the last drop of wine in the Holy Grail, and the last is harvested from untouched-ever-by-human-hands Martian sugarcane fields, the price to the consumer should be the same (and low enough that the ‘evil’ corporation won’t be worth the investment) and the profits to the owners should be ‘equal’ (and as little as possible – of course).

    It’s not fair that Moo Cluck Moo doesn’t have to pay the same tax rate or pay for their employees the same benefits that McDonald’s does. But actual fairness is not important, is it? What we need are really nice-sounding deceptions that SOUND fair (for instance: wonderful, shiny, happy, mythical, magical, sparkling, rainbow-flavored, unicorn-poo-patties… a.k.a. the “living wage”).

    If McDonald’s is forced to double their wages to $15 an hour… what will Moo Cluck Moo do to maintain the current flavor-of-the-weak status of the progressives (who don’t seem to see the deliciously-ironic paradoxes of being socialists cheering for a company who has a policy of bringing to its doors the best employees through a completely anti-progressive policy of taking advantage of the AMERICAN systems of free market capitalism, INEQUALITY OF WEALTH, and upward mobility for workers)?

    Will Moo-Cluck-Moo: 1) double the wages they pay to $30 an hour -and double the menu price to be able to pay them; 2) Ditto, but fire half their workers; 3) double the wages they pay and cut workers benefits; 4) Ditto, but have employees work only about 20/week; 5) Ditto, but Half the SIZE of their sandwiches (which have already been described as ‘slider-sized’); 6) Ditto, but sacrifice quality in some way (cheaper = cheaper); or 7) Continue paying $15 an hour – even though that pay rate will no longer be considered a magical, wonderful, mythical living wage – “who can support a family on ‘minimum wage'”, and “how can I make ends meet in the high-stakes world of Mom-Pop-Mom short-order cookeries with under 25 employees that by virtue of only hiring a handful of people can avoid the higher tax rates that more successful businesses are subject to thanks to working the systematic inequalities of progressivism?”, and other ad vomitum arguments that have been made in support of everything opposite of what Moo Cluck Moo is now being cheered for doing by the same people.

    Moo Cluck Moo is paying their employees well (by the words out of their own mouths – if you are paying attention) NOT because they have succumbed to political agitation from progressive circles who (in spite of math) think that EVERY FAST FOOD EMPLOYER should be FORCED TO PAY higher wages…. but because of (prepare to be shocked) the understanding that wage inequality is awesome – they pay their employees MORE so that they can afford to get the BEST employees, so that they can save money on retention costs/training costs (über important to a smaller business like MCM).

    Simply put, if MCM’s competition (BK, McD’s) are forced to pay MCM wages, then MCM will have to do something different to be a BETTER place to work. … Like hamsters on a treadmill, but with Bill Moyers & Communists throwing monkey wrenches in the machinery because they behave as if they believe that calculators and dictionaries are racist.

    If you want BETTER, you might first look up the definition of the word (before some nefarious socio-linguistic lying weasel high-jacks the word and decides to make better=worse). Better is currently still a COMPARATIVE term. If you want BETTER, you have to have wealth equality.

    Another option is to go yet one more round with the malevolent, diabolic, insidious evils inherent to the deceptions of progressive (so-called, though anything-but) socialism.

    This time, though (they tell us) will be different than the last 20 times in the last 40 years and so very different than each of the 62 times that this has been posed as THE solution (and the various depressions that resulted. Are we likely to be foolish enough to suffer through this economic engineering and long-term-destructive progressive tampering again? Probably. Why do I believe this? Because in this ‘great economy’, people are acting desparate enough to fall for the same antiquated Marxist sloganeering – as evidenced by McDonald’s employees and Comm-Union worker’s (workers of the world unite!) strikes in obliviously-related agitation of the GREAT economy that they-who-are-Kool-Aid-sedated-enough-to-have-to-ask-who-‘they’-are insist on telling us we have.

    These places serve food. People eat food. Before anyone replies with the typical rant about how “selfish” conservatives are to expect higher pay for workers with dangerous jobs like firefighters and policeman, or to expect higher pay for highly-educated and highly-skilled jobs such as medical assistants and computer specialists, remember that even fast food workers have to eat. If Moo-Cluck’s decision to be a stand-out on the pay scale were to become FORCED on other businesses who operate under different economic models (thanks, ironically to the unfair progressive tax system and also to this thing called ‘math’), then it will no longer be an awesome thing for a single company to attempt to attract better workers through comparatively better pay, it will become par-for-the-course and therefore economically of no benefit – just same sh** different restaurant.

    Some are even so aware of the repetitive redundancies of the repeating repetitions of history – or at least so capable at elementary mathematics – that they may soon realize that increasing the minimum wage balances out by increasing the cost of living through artificial means which balances out in the economy by doubling wealth disparity, but has little positive- and often much negative-effect by itself of improving upon the standard of living (one more time again, and again, and again, and once again, also, again, and again, and again, and how many times will people fall for the progressive’s Marxist-Jim Jones dirty ‘revolutionary’ tricks, apparently once again). But those people are likely fewer and farther between than ever – if you actually believe the lies progressive MSNBC (“Lean Forward”… and Spew Vomit) tells you.

    Oh nos! Moo-Cluck-Moo made a profit. Tax them! The employees of Moo-Cluck-Moo are making more money than the employees of McDonald’s! Oh nos! Tax them, too! Greedy, greedy, Moo-Cluck-Moo employees… sharing in the ‘excess profits’ are ‘part of the problem’.

    I like that Moo-Cluck-Moo can offer [comparatively] higher wages as an option for the BEST WORKERS. What we really (sarcastically) need to happen next is for Moo-Cluck-Moo to be punished ‘robustly’ for creating wealth inequality by forcing even higher wages, until, at some point they are either forced out of business by the forces of NEO-SYNDICALISM or a balance of MEDIOCRITY is created so that the BEST employees are paid – with ‘perfect’ wealth equality – the same as the WORST employees.

    Because (as any good worker paired with mediocre employees can attest) being paid the same, regardless of the quality of your work or the difficulty of the tasks you are assigned, is the epitome of ‘fair’.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    SHORT VERSION:
    Inequality of wealth = not so bad now, huh? Moo-Cluck-Moo employees seem to ENJOY being paid the best for being the best. The restaurant gets to retain the best, so that’s good. Less training costs are savings that can be paid forward. Are customers also willing to pay more to be served by the best? Looks like it! Another Win-Win-Win for free market capitalism!
    – – – –
    SILLY VERSION:
    Useless facts (are stubborn things) using reverse-engineered liberal logic:
    • If people are spending more money at Moo-Cluck-Moo, then they have less money so spend elsewhere, which means the people at the other restaurants are not getting tipped as much now. The owners of Moo-Cluck-Moo, giving money to employees, now have less money to give to charities, such as ALS research.

    Oh nos!

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