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Need to Hire? Look Within First

If you’re a restaurant manager or owner, you’re no doubt feeling the pain of that constantly revolving back door. Finding and hiring awesome team members is huge issue. Trouble is, the job boards you’ve come to rely on to source candidates are expensive and no longer effective at bringing in great people who fit your […]

If you’re a restaurant manager or owner, you’re no doubt feeling the pain of that constantly revolving back door. Finding and hiring awesome team members is huge issue.

Trouble is, the job boards you’ve come to rely on to source candidates are expensive and no longer effective at bringing in great people who fit your culture, want to work hard and are interested in sticking around for longer than three months.

You know you have to stay on the hunt for top talent, but when you’re stuck weeding through bad resumes and unqualified candidates, hiring starts to feel like a giant burden instead of the bedrock of your business.

So you throw in the towel and hire that warm body because, let’s face it, you needed someone … like yesterday.

But here’s a little secret. One of the best sources for great restaurant staff comes right from within your team. And guess what, not only is it practically free … you actually get better people when you look within. Here are two ways to get the best restaurant staff … from your staff.

Leverage the Power of Referrals

The statistics for referral-based hiring are astounding. Over and over again, restaurateurs say that referrals from their team are the best hires because they fit the culture and they stick around longer. Which is like a unicorn in an industry that had a 62% turnover rate in 2014.

Yet, only 7% of candidates are referrals. And here’s what’s even crazier-referrals are hired 40% of the time!

In other words, the thing that you’re not doing a lot of-ahem, asking your employees to refer people to you and maybe even giving them a monetary reward-is the thing that gets you the best recruiting results!

Let’s take a look at it from a cost perspective. For $50 you could post your job opening on a list or a board, weed through unqualified candidates for hours, finally hire and train someone only to watch them walk out the door three months later. (Workers in the service and hospitality industries have the lowest median tenure out of all industries)

OR, you could give your best employee $50 when they refer someone to your organization who actually wants to work with you and your team and is more likely to stay with you longer. We’ll let you decide which is a better use of your dollar bills.

Promote Your A-Players

Do you know how much it costs you to lose a really good team member? Depending on the size of your business, it could be thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Growing and continually training high-performing team members, on the other hand, raises the bar for your entire organization. Their tenure and tenacity will almost always translate to higher profits and a better work environment. (Another reason to use referral-based hiring.)

Restaurant managers should offer A-players a growth path within the organization and be transparent about how they can get there. The ELM Restaurant Group in Austin, Texas has a management training program ( that you can read about here ) just for that reason and are proud that they have very low turnover across their growing concepts. Large fast casual and quick serve brands like Chipotle and Raising Cane’s have also jumped on the trend, finding talent from within the organization, putting them through management training and even going so far as to offer them ownership in the organization. How’s that for an incentive?

Of course, not everyone has the resources to go out with those kind of big initiatives and incentives. But if you’re not having any success advertising on some guy’s list … then it’s time to cross him off and turn to your people to help you find great restaurant staff.

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