From the food you serve to the experience you provide, it’s all a product of the people you hire. And one bad apple can definitely spoil the bunch.
For starters, bad hires cost a lot to replace. According to the Council of Hotel and Restaurants Trainers, the average is $20,000 per manager and $2,225 per hourly employee. That doesn’t include the bad hires who stay and end up costing you even more—in labor, food costs, employee morale and guest experience.
So before poor talent gets you in the weeds, consider these 10 RESTAURANT essentials for a new perspective on the age-old challenge of hiring:
Recruitment brand: Are you as focused on attracting applicants as you are on attracting guests? Consumer brand and recruitment brand are closely tied—improve one, and you’ll likely improve the other. But how do you show potential employees what it would be like to work at your restaurant, not just eat there?
To start, walk through your restaurant’s job pages and application process. You might have a great restaurant concept, but you’ll lose credibility if the candidate experience is difficult or outdated.
Employee engagement: A satisfied employee is a steady employee, but an engaged employee has a genuine interest in food and guest service. Because they care deeply about their work, engaged employees are natural mentors and improve morale throughout the store.
Hire people who are social, resilient, driven and team-oriented, and you’re more like to have engaged restaurant staff—which means lower turnover and higher profit per employee.
Screening: Because turnover is high, most restaurants are continually filling vacancies. Ideally, you want to have more applicants than you have openings—that gives you options. But for each opening, you can select only one. How do you know who’s best?
Managers don’t have to guess anymore. They can look beyond past experience and interview skills, and make hiring decisions based on competencies like guest focus and sales ability.
Talent pool: In a strong job market, candidates can be choosy about the opportunities they take. This will essentially shrink your talent pool, or at least increase competition for good talent. Not everyone will be clamoring for work in the restaurant industry, but the trick is to target those who are.
You don’t have to rely just on referrals and walk-ins anymore. Focus on building a strong recruitment brand and cast a wide net for applicants, then hone in on those with high potential.
Automation: You might still offer paper applications for walk-ins, but more and more restaurants are turning to automated systems to manage the early stages of the hiring process. This frees up managers to focus only on qualified candidates, preferably those with a knack for guest service.
If you want to implement a consistent hiring strategy in a decentralized business, automation is the only way. Otherwise, decisions about talent are made on the fly with no guide and no insight.
Unethical behavior: Missing work, mistreating others, stealing. You want to avoid it all. You can eliminate a lot of unethical behavior simply by hiring people who are comfortable with the team and culture and motivated to perform well in the role.
You can also screen for personality traits that lead to certain types of behavior. Using a prehire assessment, a popular service industry chain decreased turnover for areas of misconduct by 40 percent.
Return on hire: You have to prove ROI, no matter what you invest in. When it comes to investing in talent, can you measure the impact? Think of it as return on hire. As you streamline your hiring process and provide managers with tools to build a strong service staff, you’ll need to see clear business outcomes.
Does social recruiting bring in more applicants? Does a prehire assessment recommend servers with higher PPA? Start tracking ROH, and you’ll see the success (or shortcomings) of your hiring process.
Applicant flow: If you have a group of restaurants, you could be dealing with a large applicant pool. Automation can help ease the workload of screening these people and keep managers focused on their store or their region.
New hire impact: Managers hire and train new employees all the time. Are they getting better at it as they go and sharing lessons learned with others? Maybe. It’s hard to tell without any visibility into the posthire process or the quality of new hires.
Gauging the success of new hires might be easier than you think. Start with a survey about employee engagement and manager satisfaction, then use that insight to start building the quality of hire metrics.
Turnover: Employee churn is especially challenging in restaurants, with industry turnover averaging 30 percent for managers and 114 percent for hourly employees, according to the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers. Some people look at restaurant jobs as temporary, some shop around for the best clientele and some just aren’t cut out for the service industry.
That doesn’t mean restaurant turnover is a lost cause. In fact, there’s a lot you can do about it. When you hire for culture and job fit, you make it that much harder for people to walk away.
Greg Moran is c.e.o. of OutMatch, which works with some of the most recognized names in the restaurant to build winning teams, companies, and cultures, fueled by its data-driven approach to talent selection and development.