Wage, benefit data surveyed | SteamboatToday.com

Wage, benefit data surveyed

CMC course collecting information on city's hospitality industry

Omar Bautista waits on Ryan Tritz, as he holds his son, Gavin. Tritz was at the Cantina with his wife, Jenny (not shown in photograph), Monday afternoon. The owners of the Cantina recently responded to a survey addressing their employees' wages and benefits.
John F. Russell

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For more information or to take the survey, contact Darcy Trask at 846-1663 or dtrask@coloradomt...

— An academic researcher and business owners hope to round up insight into wages and benefits in Steamboat Springs’ hospitality industry.

Darcy Trask is coordinating a survey on the subject through a course at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus. Officials at hospitality-based businesses are completing the surveys, which are due to Trask by Thursday.

She runs the class, a human resources management course in the school’s hospitality management program. Although specifics of each business’s data will be kept private, survey participants will receive general information about wages and benefits in hospitality fields.

“We ask some fairly comprehensive information about benefits: ‘What percent of the premiums does the employer pay? What percent does the employer pay?'” Trask said.

The class performed the survey last year for a broad set of employers. This year, however, Trask said she narrowed it to the hospitality industry and simplified the survey.

Rex Brice, who owns three restaurants in town, has participated both years.

“This is something I knew we needed in town for a while, and I’ve actually informally done it myself with other restaurant owners to get an idea of what they’re paying to make sure we’re competitive,” Brice said. He runs Big House Burgers, Mazzola’s Italian Restaurant and Rex’s American Grill & Bar.

Although Trask said she would be able to release only limited information publicly, Brice said the data could be useful to the community.

“I think it’s important to have access to some of this information so they understand the challenges we’re facing in this industry,” he said.

Wages in the service industry have risen as much as 40 percent in the past four years, Brice said. The minimum wage for tipped employees has increased from $2.13 to $4 an hour, he said.

“There’s virtually no way to reflect that in our prices,” Brice said.

Kristi Brown, who owns the Cantina with her husband, said her restaurant was participating for the first time.

“It’s a good tool for everybody to see where they fall in the industry to make sure we’re all being competitive and we’re all being fair in trying to hire and retain staff,” Brown said.

She encouraged business owners to take the survey. Brown said she spent about 20 minutes on it.

“I think it’s important for everybody to participate, otherwise, the information isn’t going to be helpful to anybody,” she said.

The survey is several pages long and asks businesses to provide average, minimum and maximum wages for a variety of positions. It also includes questions on health insurance, 401(k) plans, turnover and employee transportation.

Trask expects results to be available in mid-October. Those who want to take it still may do so, she said.

“It’s timely, it’s local, it’s useful and it’s free,” Trask said.

– To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

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