Restaurant Management Tip - How to Hire Good Restaurant Employees #restaurantsystems
How to Hire Restaurant Employees
A successful restaurant relies on a top-notch staff, from the hands that plate entrees to the cheerful smiles that greet guests. When you hire new employees, your goal should be to attract talented applicants who will stay with the business as long as possible. During interviews, try to gauge how well candidates can balance customer service and your bottom line. While technical skills are important, finding a candidate with a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and grace under pressure should be your priority.
Attracting Talented Applicants
Implement an employee referral program.In the restaurant business, word of mouth and employee referrals are the top ways to find new hires. Offer current employees incentives for referring new hires that perform well and stay with the company. Incentives could be monetary rewards or free meals and drinks.
- For example, offer employees an incentive if they refer an applicant who gets hired. Higher-tiered incentives at 3-, 6-, and 12-month benchmarks will encourage them to recommend people who will stay long-term and reduce turnover.
- You can also try asking regular customers for referrals. Offer a gift certificate if they recommend someone you end up hiring.
Tailor job postings to your specific needs.Create job descriptions for individual positions and set requirements based on your specific needs. For example, if you need a part-time prep person in the kitchen, your posting shouldn’t call for a culinary degree and 5 years of experience. You can train a less experienced applicant, like a high school or college student, to chop vegetables or mix marinades.
- On the other hand, a job posting for a chef should require years of training, practical experience (including purchasing and staff management), and familiarity with your local restaurant scene.
- Your needs will also depend on your restaurant’s size and how long you’ve been in business. If you have a complex menu and dozens of seats, you’ll need plenty of capable hands in the kitchen and front of house. If you’re a small operation and your family has done most of the work, you probably just need 1 or 2 extra hands.
Showcase your brand in print and digital postings.Posting flyers on-site will attract applicants who have most likely dined at your restaurant. To some degree, they’ll be familiar with and excited about the company culture. For digital postings, include photographs that capture that culture, such as images of your food, a full dining room, and employees in action.
- Your brand and company culture will help convey that your business is a great place to work, which will help attract the best candidates.
Create a “Work for Us” page on your website.Along with specific job descriptions, write concise headings with keywords that potential applicants would use in their searches. Include a contact form on the page or provide an email address where applicants can send a resume.
- Example headings could be, “Server wanted for upscale Boston restaurant,” or “Line cook needed for high volume Houston seafood restaurant.”
Use an online hiring service.While Craigslist is among the most popular and simplest services, you’ll likely have to sift through lots of undesirable applications. Other choices include LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, and Simply Hired. Additionally, some major cities have location-specific hospitality industry apps and job boards.
- Posting on job boards for military members transitioning to civilian life can help you connect with reliable prospective new hires.In the United States, try posting an opening with the Transition Assistance Program: .
Choose interview applicants based on their qualifications.Review applications and resumes, and look for candidates who have the right experience for your opening. Call in the most qualified applicants for interviews.
- The number of interviewees will depend on your applicant pool. You might find that you can rule out at least half of applicants and want to meet the other half in person.
- Since turnover is a major issue in hospitality, choose interviewees who have spent at least a year with other employers.
Make sure interviewees can meet the job's basic requirements.Ask candidates about their hours of availability, and make sure they can work during your staffing gaps. Use experience-based questions to get a better idea of what kind of employee they would be.
- For example, ask, "How have you handled difficult customers in the past?" or "How have you dealt with a stressful situation, like equipment malfunctioning just as orders start piling up during a rush?"
- Good answers should convey a candidate's ability to think on their feet without getting flustered. For example, a quick-thinking server might say, "The kitchen was backed up, and a table was upset about waiting for their entrees. I asked the chef if I could offer them a small sample of the appetizer special. It was a quick fix that made them feel really special."
Ask questions related to both customer service and business operations.Hospitality employees must put guest satisfaction first. However, they should know the importance of your bottom line. Since restaurant profit margins are so low, employees who waste paper goods, food, and other resources can pose a risk to your business’s solvency.
- Ask candidates, “What’s the most important aspect of the restaurant business?” Their answer should be “People,” “Taking care of the guest,” or otherwise related to customer service.
- Ask if they’re familiar with how much a restaurant makes in profit per dollar sold. In the United States, the correct answer is around a nickel. If an applicant responds with something like “50 cents,” they might not be the best choice for your bottom line.
Avoid accidentally asking discriminatory interview questions.It’s easy to ask illegal interview questions by mistake, especially if you run a small operation and don’t have an HR department or legal team. In the United States, you can’t ask questions about age, race, disability, national origin and citizenship, marital status, pregnancy status, children, arrest and conviction record, and military discharge status.You can, however, phrase questions in ways that are relevant to the job’s qualifications.
- For example, you can’t ask someone’s age, but some states have age restrictions for pouring and serving alcohol. You could ask, “Are you at least 21?” or “Do you meet our state’s age restrictions for serving alcohol?”
- You can’t directly ask someone’s citizenship in an interview, but you could ask, “Are you able to provide proof of eligibility to work in the United States?”
Interview prospective new hires twice, if possible.Small business owners typically have little time on their hands, so a second round of interviews might not be feasible. However, if possible, have applicants who performed well in the first interview come back a second time. If you have another manager available, have them conduct the second interview.
- A second interview with another manager can help you choose between 2 or more candidates who look great on paper. Candidates willing to interview a second time could be more dedicated, and you might find someone who interviewed well once isn’t as impressive the second time.
Factor in how much time you have to train a new hire.If you’re stretched thin or just starting to hire new staff, you might not have enough time to train someone from scratch. Your best bet would be to hire an experienced applicant who doesn’t require as much attention. On the other hand, if your business is established, you might want to hire less experienced personnel who you can train according to your company standards.
Prioritize attitude and work ethic over technical skills.Just because someone has incredible knife skills doesn’t mean they’re the best fit for your kitchen. Since restaurants are highly stressful environments, employee morale is a key factor. Choose candidates who are eager to learn, are punctual, have a team mentality, demonstrate grace under pressure, and are willing to work hard.
Spend plenty of time evaluating management candidates.While every employee plays a distinct role in a restaurant’s operations, some positions require more thought than others. When choosing a manager or chef, carefully consider their practical experience, how well they represent your brand, and how they would set the tone for the rest of the staff.
- Your general, front of house, and kitchen managers lead the staff, act as role models, maintain your product quality, and control your bottom line. Choosing the best candidates can make or break your business.
- On the other hand, even if they provide a vital function, you don’t need to spend hours deliberating over a part-time bus person.
Evaluate kitchen staff based on your menu’s complexity.If you have a complex menu, you’ll need capable staff who can execute quality dishes. You won’t need as many cooks if you have a simple menu, and applicants might not need as much formal training.
- For instance, if you run a fine dining restaurant, your applicants should probably have solid knowledge of sauces, cooking a variety of meats to the correct temperature, handling seafood, techniques related to your particular cuisine, and other aspects of food preparation.
- If your menu items just need to be sauteed or thrown in a fryer for 5 minutes, applicants won’t need as much training and experience.
Choose front of house staff who can sell your brand.Servers and bartenders directly interact with customers more than any other employees. They sell your products, create guest loyalty, and embody your business’s character and culture. Choose candidates with excellent interpersonal skills, who can multitask, and who stay positive under pressure.
- For instance, someone who wears ripped jeans and a ratty shirt to apply for an upscale serving job might not fit that restaurant’s brand and culture. Someone who’s soft-spoken and extremely nervous during an interview might not succeed at talking to 150 customers on a busy night.
Evaluate background checks on a case-by-case basis.If you conduct background checks, try to see anything you find in context. Tell candidates you perform background checks during the interview and give them the opportunity to discuss any history of arrests or convictions.
- Finding out an applicant didn't disclose serving a prison sentence for a serious violent crime is one thing. However, suppose you find out a 28-year-old applicant had a minor offense when they were 18. That doesn't mean you should automatically reject their application if they're otherwise highly qualified.
Keep your payroll within 25 to 35% of your gross sales.While offering the highest possible wages will help you retain talented employees and reduce turnover, you need to keep your payroll in check. Figure out how much you can offer while staying within your budget, especially when hiring full-time kitchen staff or salaried employees.
- In most states, tipped workers don’t make minimum wage. If a full-time server earns .13 an hour, they won’t affect your payroll as drastically as a line cook who makes an hour or a manager who makes ,000 per year.
- Remember that payroll includes your salary and your managers’ pay. All aspects of payroll, including your cut, need to be under 35% of sales.
Negotiate wages primarily with salaried managers and chefs.You probably won’t negotiate wages with a college student applying to be a food runner. However, you will most likely negotiate with your salaried employees. Making a competitive job offer takes finesse and instinct, and will depend on whether you can afford highly experienced candidates.
- If your business is established and you’re trying to land a highly qualified applicant, you might want to leave some room in your offer for negotiation. If your best offer is ,000, offer ,000 so you have some wiggle room if they counteroffer. If you agree to ,000, you’ll still have room to increase their salary in 6 months.
Offer profit sharing and performance-based wage increases.If you can’t afford higher wages, set aside a percentage of profits, such as at least 5 to 10%, for a profit sharing arrangement. A good profit sharing plan could increase a manager or chef’s salary by up to 25%. This motivates them to reduce the business’s cost and increase gross sales.
- Additionally, tipped employees can make between 2 and 3 times as much as kitchen staff, which is tough on morale. Profit sharing arrangements with all kitchen employees can help you retain talented staff and maintain a positive work environment. For instance, earmark 5% of food sales and divide that sum between kitchen staff.
- You could also offer wage increases for specific performance benchmarks. For example, when you hire a bar manager, agree in writing that they’ll receive a raise in 6 months based on how much they increase your beverage program’s profit margin.
Pay tipped employees higher wages, if possible.In some states, minimum wage for tipped employees is as little as .13 per hour. Servers can make hundreds of dollars on a good night, so they can make up for the tiny hourly wage. However, offering to above minimum wage for tipped employees can help you attract and retain talented candidates without breaking your bank.
- Experienced servers know that, with such low hourly wages, they’ll likely owe hundreds or even thousands of dollars when they file their income tax return. A couple of extra dollars per hour can be a major incentive, even if it’ll just help them pay income taxes.
Filing New Hire Forms
Familiarize yourself with federal and state labor laws.From worker’s compensation to disability insurance, make sure you’re in compliance with all applicable employment regulations. In addition to federal laws, your state might mandate additional employee benefits (such as family and medical leave), regulate how much employees under 18 can work, set age restrictions for pouring and serving alcohol, require food managers to have safe food handling certification, or require bar cards (or training and licensing for bartenders).
- In the United States, check the Department of Labor’s overview of federal employment laws: . Find your state laws here: .
Retain work authorization forms.New hires need to fill out an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form within 3 days of starting employment. Have them fill out the form and present valid proofs of identification. Retain the completed form and photocopies of their documents in your records throughout their employment.
- A passport or permanent resident card are valid documents on their own. A driver’s license or state or federal ID must be submitted with a social security card or birth certificate.
- If an employee stops working for you, retain their I-9 and document photocopies for 3 years after their date of hire. If they’ve worked for you longer than 3 years, retain their form and documents for 1 year after their employment ended.
File tax-related paperwork.In the United States, you’ll need to report new hires to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and to your state government. On or before their first day of work, have new hires fill out a W4 form, which sets their income tax withholding. You’ll then file their W4 after they fill it out and again annually with your state and federal governments.
- Find out more about reporting new hires, income tax withholding, and other employer obligations here: .
- Most restaurants involve a lot of moving parts, and there are lots of different positions needed to ensure smooth operation.
- General, front of house, and kitchen managers (or chefs) oversee purchasing, staff management, and all other aspects of business operations.
- Servers are a basic necessity, but larger restaurants require support staff, including food runners and bussers. Sometimes managers act as bartenders, but larger operations with more complex beverage programs require at least 1 to 2 dedicated bartenders.
- In the kitchen, you'll need at least 2 to 4 cooks, depending on your menu's complexity. During peak shifts, you'll need a dishwasher to ensure there's a ready supply of pans, pots, plates, and flatware.
Video: Restaurant Management Tip - 5 Tips for Hiring Good Restaurant Employees - #restaurantsystems
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