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It’s no secret that it’s getting harder and harder to find great restaurant employees. So, stop looking for ‘restaurant’ employees and start looking for employees everywhere. Watch the video to learn how.
To learn more please either watch the video above, read the transcript or listen to the podcast below.
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It’s no secret that it’s getting harder and harder to find great restaurant employees. So, stop looking for ‘restaurant’ employees and start looking for employees everywhere.
Chances are you’re looking for restaurant employees… you’re looking on Facebook, Indeed, Craigslist, or wherever it is that you find your employees. You’re putting an ad up that says “Cooks needed”, “Servers needed”, “Cashiers needed”, etc. That’s perfectly fine and you should still be doing that, but what I really want to talk about today is “poaching,” but without really poaching. I don’t want you going to restaurants and trying to poach their employees. Instead, I want you to be on the lookout everywhere you go for great people.
How to make the “ask”:
Some of the best employees I have ever found are people out and about just doing their thing. A client of mine once picked up a phenomenal employee at a gas station late one night. This client, a restaurant GM, was filling up with gas and the guy working in the store was incredibly helpful and nice. He helped him get a pack of cigarettes or something, and then they sparked up a conversation. Four years later he is one of the best servers that they’ve ever had.
This happened to me multiple times in the restaurant world. I would find great employees checking us out at the grocery store or just by sparking up conversations with people standing in line to a movie. The trick is to talk to people! If someone seems to have a great personality and is exactly what you would want in your restaurant, just ask them a simple question: “What do you do right now for work?” Of course that’s if you don’t already know or it’s not apparent…like the grocery store clerk.
Ask them if they’re happy with what they’re doing. If they say “yes” then say, “I’m just curious if you would ever explore some other options? I own a restaurant here in town, here’s a gift card if you’d like to come in one day for lunch. Be sure to ask for me.” Or you can hand them a business card and ask them to contact you. Don’t ever ask them for their phone number or contact info! That could be really intimidating or scary, especially if you’re an older male and you’re talking to a younger woman.
At our restaurant, we made up gift cards that looked like business cards. If we found someone that was great (remember, look everywhere), we would hand them a business card/gift card and invite them to come to the restaurant and enjoy lunch or dinner on us, ask for me (or so-and-so), and we can talk. Sometimes they come or sometimes not – either way, it’s no skin off your back.
The key to success is to keep this process going all the time. Don’t wait till you need staff to start talking to people. Invite them into your restaurant and have a great conversation. If you still think that they’re a fit for your restaurant, but they don’t have restaurant skills, you can train them…good people are hard to find.
They’re probably not going to want to leave their steady, safe, secure job for something they’ve never done – especially in the restaurant business. Then what is the trick to finding and keeping any employees long-term? You have to offer them something that no one else can offer within the pay range that you’re offering. Not just something other restaurants can offer but something other businesses can’t offer.
Our special talent when it came to staff was that I am a great trainer. I prepared them for the next step in their life, whatever that might be. Some of the people who worked for me came in because they needed a job. I had one restaurant employee that wanted to be a barber and now he’s doing great with his own barber shop. Some came in work to at my pizza restaurant but wanted to be Las Vegas bartenders, now they’re doing great as Las Vegas bartenders.
You see, the reason they’re so successful now is that I sat down with these kids and I promised them that if they work for me for a year, I would teach them the skills they needed to do anything they wanted in life. I help them navigate their way through their college education, doing their homework, and applying for schools or jobs. I coached them into being great people. I connected them with people I knew that could also help. My friend who wanted to open up a barber shop…I introduced him to people, helped him negotiate his lease, and helped set him up for success. By doing this, my restaurant very quickly got a reputation as the place that you wanted to have your first job.
McDonald’s has an ad right now that says, “The best first job in America.” I recommend you follow their lead and be the best first job in your community. Take the kids that need their first job and help mold them into amazing people. They will pay you back tenfold, but more than anything this cycle will continue.
The moral of today’s story is don’t just look for employees that have restaurant experience; look for great people. Open up your eyes and look for them anywhere. Invite them to your restaurant and have a conversation. Most importantly, share what it is about your job or your business/restaurant that you’re able to provide that they are not getting anywhere else for the same pay. I hope you enjoyed this week’s tip I look forward to bringing you another one just like this next week.
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