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Carl’s Jr. Franchisee Cooks Up a Plan to Combat Increasing Minimum Wage Trend

Carl’s Jr. Franchisee Cooks Up a Plan to Combat Increasing Minimum Wage Trend

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Jenny Day

One of Restaurant365’s Carl’s Jr. franchisors shared concern over the newest law to be passed in California that that will require QSR brands to adjust their minimum wage to $20/hour starting in April of 2024.

Restaurant365 looked at the five states in five areas of the country with the highest number of food and hospitality businesses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages. Those include New York, California, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. BLS data is for the first quarter of 2023, the latest available. 

  • In New York, the average weekly wage was $636. That’s 12.5% above the $565 of the same period the previous year, but nearly 4% less than the $662 for the final quarter of 2022.
  • Across the country in California, the average weekly wage was $588, 8.6% higher than the $541 during the same period the previous year, but 1.3% less than the $594 for the last quarter of 2022.
  • In Colorado, the weekly wage during the first quarter of this year was just a couple of bucks behind California at $585. While that’s 11% higher than what it was a year prior, it’s almost 2% less than what it was at the end of 2022.
  • Up north in Illinois, the weekly wage was $507, more than 10% higher than the previous year when it was $460. Yet the move from 2022 to 2023 brought a 4.5% drop from $531 per week at the end of the year.
  • Florida went in the opposite direction, with the average weekly wage rising from $518 at the beginning of 2022 to $541 at the end of that year to $571 at the start of 2023.
  • The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania followed the pack. The average weekly wage at the start of 2023 was $437, almost 11% higher than at the start of 2022 but more than 3% less than what it was at the end of that year.


One of Restaurant365’s Carl’s Jr. franchisors shared concern over the newest law to be passed in California that that will require QSR brands to adjust their minimum wage to $20/hour starting in April of 2024. With approximately 70% of Carl’s Jr. locations being in California, they are looking for innovative ways to overcome this new challenge. 

To prepare for the impact of minimum wage increases, it’s essential to streamline your labor costs. Consider implementing these best practices to balance controlling labor costs while ensuring a great customer experience. 

Familiarize yourself with both state and local labor laws

It is important to understand how to control labor costs while also obeying wage and labor laws that vary between states and cities. Especially if you are a multi-unit operator with locations in multiple states or municipalities, this can be a challenge. For example, there are approximately 40 cities and counties in California that have local minimum wages that apply to all employees and/or certain employment sectors and are usually higher than the state minimum wage.

Ensure your payroll and management teams understand what laws may apply, including leveraging restaurant scheduling software to consider predictable scheduling laws, split shift penalties, and minor restrictions when scheduling employees.

Use real-time data to drive labor decisions

After you forecast your labor needs, another powerful tool for controlling labor costs is consistent, real-time analysis. You should be monitoring your labor frequently to address real-time labor issues. Checking labor merely on a monthly or quarterly basis allows for costly overruns that add up over time.

Manage your restaurant labor cost in real-time using data. For instance, if you know your sales per labor hour (SPLH) goals and your current labor costs, you can arm your store-level managers with up-to-date data from your POS so they can make informed decisions about breaks, cuts, and call-ins.

Analyze your labor productivity

Your most effective employees are essential for making the most out of your labor budget. Strategically schedule your high-value employees to leverage the strengths they bring to the team. Analyzing productivity reports such as sales per labor hour, average sales per server, and labor cost per staff role will help you schedule your servers with the highest average sales during the peak sales times, to increase your revenue and therefore improve your labor margins.


The Role of Enterprise Solutions in Elevating Restaurant Management

Improve daily sales forecasts

One essential tool for controlling labor costs is using sales forecasting, pulling historical sales information from your POS to help you project your sales and demand in comparable time periods. When used with restaurant scheduling, forecasting allows you to make a schedule based on data, not just “manager’s gut instinct.”

Create effective scheduling strategies

If you are tracking your detailed labor metrics, you understand which areas of your labor are contributing the most to your total labor cost. Leverage this information by scheduling the different areas of your restaurant separately. Applying tools like smart employee scheduling based on SPLH percentage goals to your management, FOH, and BOH teams individually helps you optimize each part of your labor cost.

Streamline processes

A restaurant has many moving pieces, which means there is always room for improvement. Reviewing even your smallest processes can provide labor efficiencies. This may cover everything from streamlining your menu so your BOH can be more efficient to changing the service station set up so that servers can take care of tables faster.

Cross-train employees

The more flexible your team, the more efficient your labor. Teach your host how to bus tables after the evening’s reservations wind down. Perhaps have a server work as a bartender on the slow lunch shift. By training your staff to fill in gaps as needed, you are making the most efficient use of your labor and optimizing labor costs.


Optimizing your restaurant labor cost, while delivering a great customer experience, is key to maintaining navigating through labor wage changes. As minimum wages increase, it is more important than ever to look at your labor strategies with a fresh perspective.

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