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Phoenix-based Qwick helps hospitality industry fill short term jobs – The Arizona Republic

Corrections & clarifications: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of professionals who are on Qwick’s platform.
With all of the modern conveniences the food and beverage industry harnesses for customer service and production, there was one aspect of the hospitality space that remained in the stone age.
Staffing, especially temporary staffing, hadn’t caught up with the times. Qwick CEO Jamie Baxter set out to give it a fresh look when he started his Phoenix-based on-demand staffing app specifically aimed at the hospitality force in 2018. 
Baxter’s business partner was in the hotel business and struggled with filling shifts. He had used traditional temp staffing firms that charged big fees but yielded iffy results with an antiquated operations system. 
He approached Baxter, hoping to use his professional technology background for an idea that proved innovative in an industry that was stagnant in a fast and efficient service world.
“He knew there must be a better way to do this … . He wanted to order staff for his hotel the same way you order an Uber,” Baxter said. 
An experienced entrepreneur who previously owned real estate and HR technology companies, Baxter delivered the tech aspect and Qwick was born.
How it works: Qwick connects restaurants, bars, caterers and hotels with vacant shifts to servers, bartenders, cooks and other professionals looking to fill them. 
Professionals sign up on the platform to pick up the jobs they need that fit their schedule. Many have regular jobs at a restaurant or hotel but look to supplement their income, either to pay a bill or save up to buy a house or a car, or to make up for losing a shift due to downtime at their place of employment. Some, like a bartender or cook, want to practice and hone their craft and getting paid is a bonus. 
They fill out a questionnaire and are fully vetted to ensure they are qualified for the job, Baxter said. Only 30% of applicants pass the process.
On the other side, businesses post the shifts they need filled on the platform. Qwick’s proprietary algorithm finds a match. This can happen in 24 hours or even less. 
This has helped companies, especially over the past year, resolve issues of someone not showing up for work or providing little advance notice. They also use it to staff large events and can flex up or down as needed. Most use it for recurring shifts, like dishwasher, prep cook or bar back where there’s high turnover and employers don’t want to go through the headache of constantly recruiting people, hoping they can do the job. 
The vetting continues after the shifts are filled. Like a rideshare app, both sides rate each other. The better the ratings, the more likely professionals are to get more shifts.
“We’re not just disrupting the temporary staffing industry but also teaching restaurants a new way to staff. We’ve looked at all the things they don’t like about staffing agencies, ripped it apart and said, ‘Let’s fix the things that are broken,’” Baxter said. “Also, people need to work on their terms and that’s what Qwick allows them to do.” 
Today, there are more than 110,000 professionals and more than 5,000 businesses on Qwick’s platform, Baxter said.  
Qwick professionals range in age from 18-70s. Its presence in 22 cities means that they can get shifts in other places, maybe during an extended family visit out of state or other reasons that draw them away from the Valley for weeks or even months at a time.
Qwick plays a role in a food and drink service industry that had 11.4 million jobs in the U.S. in 2021, according to Statist.
And like a typical service app, Qwick handles payments. This spares businesses from using their accounting departments or needing to get banking information. It also means pros don’t have to wait to get paid. In fact, they get their money 30 minutes after clocking out, Baxter said.
For the last four years, Epic Catering Concepts and Wandering Donkey Taqueria & Tequila Bar CEP Lance Smith has tapped into Qwick’s resources for various staffing needs. Recently, that included the Waste Management Open Phoenix, where Epic was the food vendor for the VIP section and Bird’s Nest, where Smith’s company was responsible for serving more than 17,000 guests. 
He needed 100 professionals each day for the week-long tournament. 
“Without them we would have had a difficult time getting it done,” said Smith, whose Scottsdale-based company does many large events year-round. “When it comes to these big events or even catered events, I don’t know of anybody else I would consider. The people they provide us are quality … . I’m going to get someone who has got a level of expertise they’ve been tested on.” 
Smith considers Qwick a partner that makes it possible to pull off what his catering company does. He has put in for a shift and had someone arrive within a few hours to take it. That kind of result is practically unheard of from a traditional temp service, he said. 
“It’s amazing. It’s a no-brainer, actually,” Smith said. “We’ve never had anyone that we weren’t satisfied with. They’re our go-to.” 
Qwick’s rapid ascent in a new space they carved did not make them immune to the pandemic’s impact on the hospitality industry. Baxter recalls spring 2020.
“We saw on the platform revenue dropped 80% overnight. Shifts got canceled. It affected us just as hard,” he said. 
A venture-backed company, investments plummeted as COVID-19 hit. Qwick laid off 70% of its own staff. To survive, Baxter and his team devised ways to use their platform in relevant ways that also helped their pros earn income. They did this by matching them with grocery stores that needed people to stock shelves or COVID-19 testing and vaccination centers who needed help. 
They also called businesses to see how they were doing and asked how to help. 
It worked. Qwick ended 2020 a few growth percentage points higher than 2019, Baxter said. When the market stabilized, everything was up and running fast. Investors went back to giving more capital and Qwick brought its focus back to F&B. 
In 2021, Qwick grew more than 600%. It’s on track to do at least 300% more this year. 
Baxter gets emotional talking about an industry pro who sent him a photo of his daughters at their kitchen table. In the note, he told Baxter that he wasn’t sure how he was going to feed them that night. He thanked Baxter for the opportunity to earn money to literally put food on his table. 
“That’s what gets us really motivated and excited, helping them feed their families or keep their lights on,” Baxter said. He took a breath and paused. “Helping them earn the money they need is very gratifying. We’re making an impact.”
What: Qwick
Where: Phoenix 
Employees: 144
Factoid: The number of food and drink service jobs in the U.S. reached approximately 11.4 million in 2021, according to Statista. 


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