Recruiting

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hiring Struggles? Engage These Age Groups

Hiring Struggles? Engage These Age Groups

by David Klemt

Chef plating greens on plates

Staff turnover rates are still above pre-pandemic levels and there’s no silver bullet solution. However, two companies have some helpful advice.

Both Service Management Group and Technomic shared their tips during Restaurant Leadership Conference. Interestingly, each company has a different approach to the current hospitality industry labor problem.

In short, both SMG and Technomic advise operators to engage with vastly different age groups. However, they each have information that supports their recommendations.

Service Management Group

Jennifer Grimes, senior vice president of client services for Service Management Group, co-presented a session with Jim Thompson, COO of Chicken Salad Chick.

SMG is a software-with-a-service platform that seeks to the employee, customer, and brand experience. One crucial element of the company’s mission is the reduction of staff turnover.

During the RLC session, Grimes shared several years of hospitality turnover rates:

  • 2017: 72%
  • 2018: 75%
  • 2019: 79%
  • 2020: 130%
  • 2021: 86%

First, some context. The general consensus is that the industry’s average turnover rate has been between 70 and 80 percent for close to a decade. However, in comparison to other industries—10 to 15 percent—that’s stratospherically high.

Secondly, the turnover rate has been on rise since before the pandemic. Per some sources, the rate jumped from 66 percent in 2014 to 72 percent in 2015, a trend that continues to this day.

For SMG, the age group operators should seek to engage—generally speaking, of course—is 25 to 34 years old. Per the SWaS platform, this group was the most engaged pre-pandemic.

One reason for SMG’s suggestion is that Boomers appear to opting out of the workforce.

During the presentation by Grimes and Thompson, the latter shared that Chicken Salad Chick predicts the 2022 turnover rate to be just slightly above the 2019 rate.

Technomic

Unsurprisingly, Technomic had some numbers to share during RLC 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Per data provided by Joe Pawlak and Richard Shank, 70 percent of operators are still struggling with labor. Recruiting, hiring, and retaining staff doesn’t appear to be getting any easier four months into 2022.

Technomic also pointed out that the US saw the lowest population growth in its history last year: 0.1 percent.

Additionally, almost 17 percent of the country’s population is now at least 65 years old. In 2019, 48 percent of people 55 or older retired. That number is now just over 50 percent for the same age group.

Nearly seven million American consumers turn 60 each year, while four million turn 70 or older.

Logically, one may assume that Technomic is saying a significant portion of the US population is leaving the workforce. So, it’s best to focus on the same age group as SMG recommends.

However, Technomic is recommending a different strategy. Per Pawlak and Shank, retirees (mostly ages 55 and up) tend to have valuable managerial skills and experience.

Obviously, those skills and all that experience can be of great benefit to operators and our industry.

Certainly, all groups should be engaged by operators seeking to recruit, hire, and develop their teams. So, as KRG Hospitality sees recruitment, operators should craft targeted, authentic messaging that appeals to each age group.

Image: Sebastian Coman Photography from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

by David Klemt

Server helping guest in restaurant

There’s an easy way to identify whether there are changes that need to be made to processes and practices that only requires observation and time.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much time, either. In less than a week, an operator can determine if there are issues relating to onboarding new hires.

This simple test was shared during the 2022 Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale.

Interviews are Just the Start

It should go without saying but here we go: The hiring process doesn’t end with the interview.

An operator or their leadership team found an amazing job candidate? Awesome! That’s no small feat these days.

However, that’s just the first step in hiring and building a rock star restaurant, bar or hotel team.

Step two is onboarding, step three is training, and step four is advancement.

For KRG Hospitality, onboarding goes far beyond filling out federal and state paperwork. There’s more to it than setting up direct deposit and getting a new hire on the schedule.

Rather, operators need to implement a fully developed onboarding process. The key word there is “process.”

True onboarding includes the review of an employee handbook and an introduction to the business. During this process new hires should become familiar with the brand’s history, vision, culture, mission, and core values.

By the end of this process, a new team member should understand what’s expected of them, both in their individual role and behaviorally. Additionally, they should be introduced to the entire team.

In reality, the onboarding process is the development of a professional relationship.

The Test

Technically, the actual test for operators is for them to have in-depth hiring, onboarding and training processes in place.

So, operators should take a moment to review whether they have those processes.

However, the test I’m talking about here relates to onboarding directly. It’s simple and it was shared during RLC 2022 by Jim Thompson, COO of Chicken Salad Chick.

The only requirement is a few days’ time and an observant operator and/or leadership team.

Let’s say a candidate nails the interview. In particular, their personality is perfect for the available role. As the the hospitality industry maxim goes, hire for personality, train for skills.

The new hire works their first shift but their personality doesn’t shine through. However, that could be first-day jitters. Unfortunately, that personality the leadership team hired for is nowhere to be seen during their next few shifts.

According to Thompson, if a new hire’s personality doesn’t shine through within four shifts, there’s likely a process and practices issue. The lack of personality is an indicator that the new team member doesn’t feel confident in their role.

The onboarding process—either too shallow or nonexistent—is a likely culprit. Operators can use this test, a simple four-shift observation of a new hire, to determine if there’s a problem.

Once identified, the operator and their leaders can put their heads together, review the issue, and implement effective, positive change.

Image: Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Uber Effect: Recruit and Retain

The Uber Effect: Recruit and Retain

by David Klemt

Person using Uber app on phone

To better understand how to recruit and retain top talent these days we can simply look at what’s known as the Uber Effect.

We just got back from the Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The education was top-notch, featuring a wide range of restaurant industry experts.

One outstanding session illustrates the need for operators—chain and independent—to change their approach to recruiting and retaining staff.

Flexibility in the Workplace

According to Jennifer Grimes, senior vice president of client services for Service Management Group, people in the labor pool are after three things when seeking employment.

Generally speaking, they want better pay, better benefits, and better scheduling. Gone are the days of people focusing only on their paychecks.

And per Jim Thompson, chief operating officer of Chicken Salad Chick, the Uber Effect is largely responsible for this shift in focus. The Uber Effect refers to people realizing they can be much more in control of their careers.

In simplest terms, Uber drivers are in control of their workdays. They can work as often as they want, whatever hours they want, and wear what they want while working.

Of course, it’s not complete anarchy. There are rules, there are expectations, there are standards. However, there’s also flexibility.

Along with more flexibility in scheduling, people want the following:

  • workload balance;
  • ability to trade shifts;
  • better communication; and
  • paid vacations.

Today’s modern scheduling platforms make it simple for operators and their leadership teams to meet these expectations. With these apps, operators and leadership can:

  • assign specific roles to individual team members;
  • communicate clearly with staff;
  • allow staff to trade, drop, and pick up shifts; and
  • fill available shifts.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Thompson has an interesting anecdote about availability.

A Chicken Salad Chick manager conducting interviews didn’t proceed with a candidate. Asked by Thompson why they wouldn’t be moving forward, the manager pointed to the candidate’s availability.

During the interview, the candidate provided only a single day and the manager felt that wasn’t enough. However, Thompson disagreed with the manager’s assessment.

What if, Thompson posited Thompson, their availability filled a currently open shift? At least there would be one less shift for leadership to worry about.

But it went deeper than just that point. Good operators and leaders know that job interviews aren’t one-way streets. Candidates are also interviewing their potential employer.

What if this candidate provided limited availability because they’re unsure about a particular employer? They may not know the brand all that well, they likely don’t know the leadership team, and they don’t yet understand the workplace’s culture.

As Thompson says, “One size fits all is over.” Operators and their leadership teams need to be flexible.

It’s highly possible that just a few shifts in, if the narrow-availability team member is a good fit and finds the job engaging, they’ll broaden they’re availability.

Developing the Culture

Of course, the above scenario comes down to culture. And Thompson has an interesting thought on that operational element.

If an operator isn’t constantly developing their culture, it will grow stagnant. Maintaining the current culture isn’t good enough.

Failing to do so will ultimately lead to a decline in guest satisfaction. When that happens, a decline in traffic comes along with it.

It’s really rather simple: How an operator and the leadership team treats employees trickles down to guests. Unhappy and unsatisfied staff provide poor service. How long are guests going to tolerate negative guest experiences?

And no, simply offering competitive compensation doesn’t automatically equate to treating staff well.

“Competitive pay, to me, is the cost of entry,” says Thompson.

To this point, the COO, also the self-appointed chief smile officer, addresses how the restaurant chain respects personal time.

Chicken Salad Chick, founded in 2008, is closed on Sundays. This isn’t due to any religious influence. Rather, the founders, per Thompson, were influenced by what they perceived as a high divorce rate in the restaurant space.

So, the brand wants employees to have family time. That’s also why there stores are also closed by 8:00 PM. In some cases, they close at 5:00 or 7:00 PM. Again, personal and family time.

Could they generate more revenue if they opened earlier and closed later? Probably. However, their culture is crucial to their success.

Takeaway

If operators want to begin the process of truly developing a positive workplace culture, there are several questions Thompson suggests operators and their leaders should ask.

Is the brand purpose driven? Does focus on fun, family, and culture?

How can the business offer incremental value to staff? Are the pay and benefits competitive? Is the workplace safe and are their opportunities for staff to advance?

What’s the community like within the four walls? How’s the energy within those walls?

Are the processes and practices in place helping or hindering recruitment and retention? How can the processes be simplified so employees learn what they need to know quickly?

How flexible is the business, honestly? What’s being done to truly help leadership create better relationships with the team?

Finally, I’ll end on something interesting from Grimes. Analyzing employee engagement, SMG has found that isn’t just about compensation.

In fact, when it comes to what makes most people perceive their job as fulfilling, the top influencer is working with people they like. Second is salary and benefits. Third, rewarding work.

Operators need to adapt to employee expectations, just as they need to focus on those of guests. Sitting down with their leadership teams to discuss Thompson’s questions is a great first step toward developing a culture that works and rewards.

Image: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Adding Veterans to Your Team

Adding Veterans to Your Restaurant, Bar or Hotel Team

by David Klemt

Military combat helmet in digital camouflage

Do more this Veterans Day by encouraging those who have served to apply and interview for available positions on your team.

There are several benefits to providing job opportunities to veterans, regardless of the country (or countries) in which you operate.

Of course, there are dos and don’ts that come along with recruiting, hiring and working with veterans.

Benefits to Hiring Veterans

Before we begin, a caveat: Remember that veterans are individuals. “Veteran” is a label, a designation, a descriptor. In no way is one person who is a veteran interchangeable with another.

That said, there are some elements of military service that are similar to those of successful hospitality operations.

Teamwork, a strong work ethic, leadership skills, precision in tasks, achieving goals, consistency in results… When a restaurant, bar or hotel team is operating at its best, it can be said they work with military precision.

Generally speaking, veteran job candidates bring experience to the table that can benefit an operator greatly.

Additionally, it’s commonly said that hospitality leadership should hire for personality because they can train requisite skills. Speaking generally again, many veterans are so used to receiving specialized training that they’ll likely appreciate and respond quickly to yours.

If you want your business to operate with military precision, why wouldn’t you hire military personnel who fit well within your team?

Questions to Ask During Interviews

Obviously, there are definite dos and don’ts when it comes to discussing a veteran’s military experience.

As curious as you may be about some aspects of a veteran’s experience, questions shouldn’t be invasive or offensive.

Some examples of questions you should ask are:

  • “What did you do (in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, National Guard or Reserves)?”
  • “Why did you choose that branch of the military?”
  • “How long did you serve?”
  • “Do you come from a military family?”
  • “Where were you stationed during your career in the military? Did you visit any other countries?”
  • “Where was your favorite place you visited or lived?”
  • “How do you think your experience in the military will benefit you here?”

As you can see, nothing in those questions should make a veteran applicant uncomfortable.

Questions and Behaviors to Avoid

Speaking of discomfort, there are many questions that you should never ask a veteran. Not just during the interview process, but ever.

Also, if a veteran informs you they’re uncomfortable answering a question about their service, that should be respected.

Examples of questions and topics you should avoid are:

  • “Do you have PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder)?”
  • “Do you find it hard to get back to ‘real/regular’ life after being in the military?”
  • “Did you ever get shot/stabbed/bombed?”
  • “Did you ever kill anyone?”
  • “What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you while you served?”
  • Current military conflicts, particularly if you haven’t served in the military.
  • Referring to elements of work through military analogies.
  • Insulting branches of the military if you never served.

In short, treat veterans with the respect their deserve, as you should any other member of your staff. Veterans aren’t novelties or curiosities—they’re people.

For too long, veterans have faced undue scrutiny and undeserved stigmatization. It shouldn’t be difficult to turn that around when the solution is simple: Give veterans respect; treat them like  people since that’s precisely what they are; and provide equal opportunity.

Image: israel palacio on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

You’re Competing Against Chains for Labor

You’re Competing Against Chains for Labor

by David Klemt

Help sign outside business

Independent operators and local chains aren’t just competing with one another for staff, they’re up against global brands.

Unfortunately, that means competing against massive corporations that can offer higher wages and all manner of benefits.

However, smaller operations can still take steps to lure workers and fill open positions.

The Threat

In response to the labor shortage, many national and global chains are increasing hourly wages.

For example, Chipotle boosted wages for hourly workers to $15 per hour a few months back. Along with this boost in wages came a hike in menu prices: four percent across the board.

Earlier this year, McDonald’s also announced they would boost hourly pay. Hourly workers saw a boost of about ten percent. Of course, this chain also found itself dealing with increased supply costs. To offset a rise in costs of at least four percent, McDonald’s also boosted menu prices.

The latest to enter the labor fray is Starbucks. And like other chains, the corporation addressed the issue of hourly wages publicly.

Indeed, Starbucks’ announcement shares several details. First, staff who have worked for the company for a minimum of five years could see a pay raise of ten percent. Those who have been with the company for at least two years (but less than ten) could get a raise of five percent.

However, it doesn’t end there. Starbucks workers in the United States can take advantage of $200 referral bonuses. On average, Starbucks says hourly wages will range from $15 to $23 per hour, with an average of $17 per hour. The company expects these wage changes to be in place by Summer 2022.

Solutions

Of course, one doesn’t have to need revenue in the tens of millions or billions of dollars to compete for staff.

We’ve addressed this topic several times on the KRG Hospitality site. In particular, we’ve brought up increasing menu prices to support wage hikes. Specifically, we recommend borrowing from Chipotle and McDonald’s: Be transparent and explain why menu prices are going up.

Additionally, Bar Hacks guests like Chef Brian Duffy and Lynnette Marrero have spoken about this topic.

As Chef Duffy says during his second appearance, treating staff better is a big step toward reducing turnover. Word spreads among hospitality workers, and improved employer-employee relations is an excellent recruitment tool.

Another effective benefit? Flexible and improved scheduling which, of course, can be implemented easily via scheduling apps.

Mentorship is a powerful recruiting and retention tool. Both Chef Duffy and Marrero believe in the power of this benefit. They have decades of experience to pass on to staff that can help their careers.

Marrero also suggests implementing labor structures that corporations don’t offer. For instance, she suggests new operators are well positioned to offer earned equity, profit sharing, and co-op ownership structures.

Existing operators can also leverage Marrero’s ideas. However, they’ll need agreement from their investors if they have any.

Now that you know where labor threats are coming from, you can strategize and fight back. You may not have billions of dollars in the bank, but you’re nimble and can implement changes much more quickly. Listen to your staff and be open to making meaningful but reasonable concessions.

Image: Fernando Venzano on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Creating a Strengths Profile

Creating a Strengths Profile

by Jennifer Radkey

Unsolved Rubik's Cube against black background

When looking to improve the performance of your hospitality business it is natural to seek out weaknesses and attempt to “fix” them.

What if you were to take an entirely different approach?

Instead of focusing on weaknesses to improve upon, we should seek to identify and build upon our strengths.

Why Strengths?

Using our strengths is like writing with a dominant hand. It comes naturally and easily.

Strengths can be cultivated and used to assist in overcoming challenges and in improving upon weaknesses. If we were to focus only on improving our weaknesses it would be tiring, and the probability of giving up could increase.

However, if we focus on building upon our strengths, it would be motivating and energizing, therefore making us stronger and then more likely to overcome our weaknesses.

Lost and Found

Do you ever visit a restaurant, bar, or hotel and get no clear sense of their identity?

Maybe their menu is confusing, their social media presence is either nonexistent or only shares their daily specials, there is no consistency in service. They just seem…lost.

Now seriously take a minute and walk through your establishment with fresh eyes as if it were your first time there. Is your brand’s identity clear or lost? As we get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations and stressors, becoming lost can easily happen.

Identifying your brand’s strength profile can help you find your distinct identity again. Even if you aren’t lost there is always room to strengthen your brand.

The Background

In the field of positive psychology, psychologists Chris Peterson and Marty Seligman headed a project to seek out what characteristics describe humans at their very best.

After scouring literature, media, music, etc., spanning countries and history, they compiled a list of 24 character strengths that appear to be valued over time and culture.

This list was referred to as the Values in Action Classification of Character Strengths and Virtues (VIA). The VIA is meant to classify individual strengths but can also be applied to organizations and businesses.

The 24 Character Strengths

The list of strengths is as follows:

  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Open-mindedness
  • Love of Learning
  • Perspective and Wisdom
  • Bravery
  • Persistence
  • Integrity
  • Vitality
  • Capacity to Love and be Loved
  • Kindness
  • Social Intelligence
  • Citizenship
  • Fairness
  • Leadership
  • Forgiveness
  • Humility/Modesty
  • Self-Regulation
  • Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence
  • Gratitude
  • Hope/Optimism
  • Humour
  • Spirituality

If you want to dive deeper into the VIA character strengths or would like to take the free survey yourself to find out what your top character strengths are, please visit www.authentichappiness.org through Penn State University and take the VIA Survey.

Creating a Strengths Profile for Your Hospitality Business

Now that you have the list of 24 character strengths, think about the top three strengths that you believe capture your brand at its very best. Think both about your venue’s operations and its messaging when deciding upon the top three.

Then ask your team to do the same. Hold a team meeting in which everyone shares which three character strengths they chose and why.

I recently did this with our team here at KRG Hospitality and found the process enlightening. It was fascinating to see which character strengths were repeated, providing clarity into our brand’s strengths profile.

Establishing Your Top Three

As you review everyone’s answers as to the character strengths they feel best capture your brand at its very best, take note of strengths that repeat themselves.

For us at KRG Hospitality, creativity, perspective and wisdom, and love of learning were the most common replies. We then had our strengths profile.

Discuss what you feel the strengths profile for your brand is with your team and solidify a top three.

What Next?

Once you have a strengths profile built, it’s time to dissect it.

How are you already using these strengths in both your day-to-day operations and in how you are representing yourself to the outside world? How can you use them in new and unique ways?

For example: If one of your strengths is creativity, are you using it to your advantage in many aspects of your business? Maybe your menu is super creative, but your social media posts are dull. Maybe your interior design is creative and fresh, but your training lacks creativity.

Is one of your top strengths kindness? What are you doing to emphasize that strength and is your community aware and benefiting from it?

Think about your strengths in new and exciting ways to energize your team and build an overall stronger business.

Shout it Out!

Take pride in your brand’s strengths. Make it known to your team, potential new hires, guests and potential guests what your strengths are by living them and growing them each and every day.

The stronger your team and your brand is, the more confidence you will have. With strong confidence you can approach weaknesses and obstacles with a healthy mindset and higher chance of success.

Take the time to really know your brand and understand how you are representing yourself and you won’t be disappointed. Cheers to personal and professional well-being!

Image: Pixabay on Pexels

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

Hiring and Training Staff for Consistency

Hiring and Training Staff for Consistency

by Nathen Dube

Happy and well-trained In N Out kitchen staff

Every restaurant needs to hire staff. This is probably the second most important pre-opening task after deciding on a concept.

Hiring can be an arduous process and hiring the wrong person is often detrimental to success. It costs time, money, and effort to replace and repair the damages.

Putting a fully developed onboarding plan in place—compelling job ads, effective interview and selection processes, in-depth training manuals, and training schedules—can help streamline hiring and retention, and make new hires feel welcome and confident in their roles.

Hiring and Onboarding

Creating a strategy to onboard all staff, adjusting for differing positions (cooks, servers, managers, etc.), will help to identify potential employees that fit your needs skill- and attitude-wise.

A strategic plan will streamline the entire process, start to finish. Think of it as your recruiting and hiring “recipe.”

Answering phone calls, scribbling notes, writing emails, losing phone numbers… Operating without a plan can be very frustrating and time consuming for everyone. After all, running your restaurant is far more important than being your own HR department.

The problem is that many organizations see training as an expense and not as an investment. Untrained employees will, inevitably, lack the motivation and knowledge to use company resources properly.

A lack of training in the hospitality industry leads to:

  • costly waste;
  • employees who feel unappreciated in their job;
  • employees with a general sense that their job doesn’t matter; and
  • unsatisfactory guest interactions that impact guest retention negatively.

At this point, employees either leave or get fired for poor performance.

While it may seem simple just to replace one worker with another, consider this: Hiring someone can cost up to 30 percent of the job’s salary. For an employee that makes $40,000 a year, that could equal around $12,000 to hire someone new.

However, training an existing employee correctly might only cost a few hundred dollars, reducing invested time. Even if replacing one employee doesn’t sound that bad, consider that for every three employees who need to be replaced, that will equal an entire salary with no real gains.

Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities

From the outset, outlining job roles and daily responsibilities properly is extremely important to ensure that all staff are on the same page.

Building and maintaining a well-oiled machine takes time and planning. However, identifying and distributing responsibilities as equitably as possible will help things flow smoothly.

Differing service times can lead to staff friction when tasks are not being completed effectively for the next shift. The lack of a clear plan regarding responsibilities such as prep, stocking fridges, putting away orders, cleaning, and maintenance will inevitably cause confusion.

Yes, writing out a daily walkthrough and task list from shift start shift end time for each role in your organization will take some time and effort. No, it isn’t the most fun job you’ll do.

But doing so will make onboarding and training a seamless and less time-consuming transition overall.

How to Train New Restaurant Employees

When you’ve completed the interviews, made your hire, and are now bringing in your new staff, where do you start? Who is responsible for training? (Yes, this should be delegated in your plan!) What station do they start on and what is the timeline for moving them along?

Having a plan for onboarding that is mapped out in an employee manual will help to clearly explain your company’s policies and expectations; training modules; and all other helpful information to a new hire.

Expecting a line cook, who may even be green themselves, to convey this to a new employee is like playing the telephone game in grade one: it doesn’t work and is irresponsible.

Setting up detailed, specific workstation plans is the first step. The second step is to plan training shifts and specify who is going to be training new hires.

Batch training can make this process easier. Have your head chef or front-of-house manager spend time to train all the new hires, not just the one or two who happen to be working that day. Be sure to include other positions like sous chefs and floor staff.

This last step, along with a solid training manual, helps eliminate starting the whole process over again every time a position turns over. It also completely mitigates the disaster of staff members being trained differently. Consistency will be solid across the board.

Different Strategies for Part-time Staff

A great part-time employee program can elevate your full-time staff.

With the peaks and valleys of busy restaurant periods fluctuating around lunch and dinner, for example, full-time staff can be overworked and then swiftly underutilized. Part-time employees on the other hand, when scheduled correctly don’t experience the swing in workload.

Although part-time staff offer flexibility in scheduling, it can be difficult to find time to train them. However, part-time workers should not be excluded from training just because their hours are limited.

Organizing training specifically for your part-time employees is crucial to the success of your team. Scheduling a part-timer to come in on a busy Saturday lunch shift and flounder around strains and stresses out the rest of the staff. That’s the last thing you want or need.

Part-time staff benefit from shorter periods of training engagement than your full-time staff. You do want to include them in your large training sessions but will certainly have some who can’t make it.

Since their schedules are limited, you can train part-time staff via 15-minute lessons during pre-shift meetings. These talks can cover can anything from kitchen hygiene reminders, menu walkthroughs, customer service, and proper table setting.

Using your best staff for on-the-job training can also be beneficial to your part-timers. Shadowing during shifts provides a visual, real-world representation of everything written out in your employee manual. Following in the footsteps of someone in the role a part-timer has been hired for is an excellent way for them to understand their responsibilities and tasks in real-time.

Not only is it an opportunity to understand how the whole team functions, it’s a chance to meet colleagues and bond with the team.

Streamline Your Menu

As mentioned in a previous post, the streamlining of your menu benefits everyone from the top down.

Trying to train a new employee on how to cook (or serve) every single item on a large menu can be daunting. Keeping your menu narrow and focused will make an employee’s transition into their new position.

This is where your employee manual will come into play again. Recipes and pictures, along with training and tastings, will give new staff the confidence to cook and serve the dishes skillfully. Shadow shifts will complete the picture for them with hands-on training.

Conversely, having a large menu creates unnecessary confusion and takes a longer time for staff to feel comfortable.

Everything on your menu needs to be something that your kitchen and serving staff can handle efficiently without putting undue burden on your staff. Choose recipes that include ingredients that you know fit within your budget and concentrate on making them the best they can be. Good food is more about taste than presentation.

Seasonal menu changes should be addressed via staff meetings, updated recipe cards, tastings, and even testing for all staff. Consider using these events to train and onboard your new staff to start them on the right foot and avoid them having to play catch-up.

Don’t Discount Human Communication

Everyone wants to implement the latest technology to save money, resources, labour costs, and to deliver superior product.

One thing that needs to be remembered when training staff is this: even with all these new processes, human interaction is still necessary for a functioning business.

That is, human skill is still required to cook and plate delicious, Instagram-worthy food, and to deliver that food to the guests at the table. For the time being, human interaction is what creates memorable dining experiences and keeps guests coming back!

The opposite end of that spectrum happens when technology fails or crashes. Troubleshooting and problem-solving skills are required by your staff every day.

Train staff how to utilize your technology stack but also understand the “old-fashioned” ways.

Effective Troubleshooting Ability: Importance of Teamwork, Repetition, Consistency

 A solid training strategy produces a staff that values teamwork, a team with effective troubleshooting skills, and consistent results.

When you identify the roles you are looking and the responsibilities that come along with them, plus delegate and train properly, you are essentially giving your staff the ability to individually and collectively trouble shoot any issues that arise.

These problems can relate to customer service, broken equipment, inventory problems, and other issues that might come up when you or your leadership team aren’t there to fix things.

Everything talked about here is the foundation you should be building on to create an environment that thrives on teamwork. From the minute you onboard new staff they are comfortable in what is being asked of them and are given plenty of opportunity to work alongside colleagues.

Excellent teamwork leads to consistency and repetition of food, drinks, and service regardless of who is working the front or back of house. There is nothing more disappointing than returning to a restaurant only to have a substandard experience.

Implementing these programs even before opening day will help to keep you and, more importantly, your staff happy, thriving, and creating an amazing experience for your guests time and again!

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

4 Tips for Recruiting and Retention

4 Tips for Recruiting and Retention

by David Klemt

Server walking through restaurant carrying tray

Operators seeking to survive and thrive despite the Great Resignation can give themselves an edge with these four concepts.

Attract New Talent

KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey doesn’t find the struggle to fill restaurant, bar and hotel positions all that shocking.

Why? Because too many operators post generic, cookie-cutter job listings. Doing what everyone else is doing has never been advisable for those looking to stand out.

Instead, Doug suggests a more unique approach to job ads, an approach that helps operators stand above the competition.

Step one is avoiding banal listing language:

  • “Are you friendly, energetic, and highly motivated?”
  • “Are you an experienced and enthusiastic [insert position]?”
  • “The ideal candidate must work well in a fast-paced environment and be a team player.”
  • List of basic job tasks.

Instead, Doug suggests the following:

  • Hire for values rather than experience. Training addresses systems and standards, not personality and drive.
  • Operators should be transparent about their core values, company culture, and potential for growth.
  • Showcase the approach to inclusivity, diversity, acceptance, and flexibility. That is, if that’s authentic. If not, that’s a flashing, neon red flag that requires addressing.
  • Offer a living wage, benefits, potential for personal growth, and education.
  • Produce a video of team members sharing why they work at the company. This must be genuine and honest.

Demand creates competition. Innovation beats the competition.

Actually Onboard New Hires

So, an operator adjusts their approach to filling open positions. They recruit and hire promising employees.

Sadly, it’s common for new hires in hospitality and foodservice to leave in just a few months. Rather than accept this as the norm, operators have a tool at their disposal for improving employee retention: Onboarding.

Too many operators think the next step after hiring someone is providing a start date, showing them the front- and back-of-house, and hoping things will work out.

Well, hope isn’t a strategy.

The next step after hiring someone is onboarding and should include the following:

  • Complete all pertinent paperwork and setting up access to systems. If applicable, set up direct deposit.
  • Provide new hire with detailed employee handbook. If there isn’t one yet, that must be addressed.
  • Share the story of the business (history, area, etc.) and workplace culture.
  • Outline expectations: Policies, rules and responsibilities.
  • Explain benefits, such as health insurance and mentorship opportunities.
  • Provide training and assign shadowing.
  • Deliver feedback on trained tasks.

The above list obviously has room for more onboarding tasks. Operators should create a physical onboarding checklist. Also, they should require the person or people tasked with onboarding to complete and sign off the checklist (even if that person is the operator).

Nail recruiting, hiring and onboarding and word will get out. The result? Hiring gets easier and turnover decreases.

Focus on Workplace Culture

Doug addressed workplace culture and the labor shortage on Bar Hacks bonus episode number 16.

Simply put, operators need to take an honest look at their culture.

Is it inclusive and accepting? Transparent and nurturing? Do employees feel comfortable bringing up workplace issues? (More on that last one below.)

Hospitality is fast-paced and demanding—owners and managers shouldn’t add to the stress.

Why would anyone want to work in for someone who isn’t going to treat them and their coworkers with respect, mentor them and nurture their career, and value their input?

It’s every operator’s responsibility to be good stewards of hospitality professionals’ passion for this industry. We do them a disservice when we turn a blind eye to an unhealthy workplace culture that has taken hold, crushing their love of his business and driving them away.

Value Employee Feedback

Yes, guest feedback is valuable. However, so is feedback from employees.

It’s important for operators to remember not to focus solely on guests.

True, a business isn’t a business without customers. Equally true: It’s not a business without employees.

So, operators should foster a work environment in which employees feel comfortable sharing honest feedback. This is, of course, where culture comes into play.

If employees don’t feel safe sharing their opinions and suggestions, operators won’t truly know what it’s like to work for them. Without that feedback, employee turnover will skyrocket, recruiting and hiring will be an endless struggle, and the guest experience will suffer.

We all know what happens if guests pick up on an uncomfortable restaurant, bar or hotel environment: They don’t return.

Operators can’t expect their businesses to thrive (or just survive) if they focus solely on guests.

Putting these concepts to work can help operators succeed despite the Great Resignation of 2021.

Image: Shangyou Shi on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hospitality Labor Shortage not Improving

Hospitality Labor Shortage not Improving

by David Klemt

Wait station to side of busy bar

Surveys and data focusing on the restaurant and hotel employment situation paint a stark picture.

The sobering reality is that operators can’t simply point to the pandemic as the reason they’re failing to fill available positions.

Instead, we need to focus on the problems hospitality workers continue to face.

It’s not going to be easy. However, it can lead to positive change. That change can help the hospitality industry recover and thrive long into the future.

Culture is Crucial

Per several sources, millions of hospitality professionals are washing their hands of the industry.

Unfortunately, foodservice and lodging workers are citing several reasons for the exodus:

  • Lack of livable wages.
  • Inconsistent wages.
  • Stress levels not worth level of monetary compensation.
  • Lack of benefits.
  • Lack of mentoring and/or career progress.
  • Industry volatility, particularly devastating as a result of the pandemic.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle: Long shifts, late nights, and alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Cultures of harassment and discrimination.

Obviously, it’s easier to blame labor shortages on the workers. Well, being easier doesn’t make it true.

Industry and workplace culture matters. Employee turnover rates were high long before the pandemic ravaged the planet.

Rather than make excuses, operators need to look at their restaurant, bar or hotel’s culture.

Barking orders and feeling infallible isn’t leadership. Admitting failures and shortcomings—and learning from them and implementing positive changes—is how successful operators lead.

Generic Job Listings

Last week, KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey asked a simple but poignant question on LinkedIn: Are your job listings just like everybody else’s?

He suggests knocking it off with the old standards:

  • “Are you friendly, energetic, and highly motivated?”
  • “Are you an experienced and enthusiastic [insert position]?”
  • “The ideal candidate must work well in a fast-paced environment and be a team player.”
  • List of basic job tasks.

What’s appealing about such basic, generic ads? Why would rock star talent be moved to work for operators who post these types of ads?

Instead, Doug suggests the following:

  • Hire for values, not experience. Training can address systems and standards, not personality and drive.
  • Operators should be transparent about their core values, company culture, and potential for growth.
  • Showcase the approach to inclusivity, diversity, acceptance, and flexibility. That is, if that’s authentic. If not, that’s a flashing, neon red flag that requires addressing.
  • Offer a living wage, benefits, potential for personal growth, and education.
  • Produce a video of team members sharing why they work at the company. This must be genuine and honest.

A unique approach to ads, hiring and onboarding can lead to an increase in employee retention.

Yes, it’s more comfortable to avoid looking internally for the roots of problems. It’s more comfortable to avoid blame. And it’s more comfortable to point fingers anywhere but at ourselves.

That’s not leadership. And it certainly won’t improve any operator’s situation, nor will it improve the hospitality industry and its opportunity to thrive.

Image: One Shot from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Remote Restaurant Workers are Here

Remote Restaurant Workers are Here

by David Klemt

Remote, work-from-home setup

When people think of working from home, rarely do they picture restaurant professionals working remotely.

Normally, people associate working from home with desk and cubicle jobs across an array of industries.

A newer technology company is trying to change that perception.

New Restaurant Tech

Bite Ninja seeks to match restaurants with remote workers to online ordering and drive-thru operations more efficient.

Let’s say your business has a drive-thru window. Obviously, someone has to work that window, meaning there are labor costs that accompany it.

As operators know, it’s difficult to recruit, hire and train right now. Some states point to the $300 federal boost to unemployment as a main culprit for the labor shortage restaurants are facing currently, announcing exits to the program.

According to Bite Ninja, remote workers are a feasible solution to labor and cost challenges (at least for some operations).

The tech company trains “Virtual Cashiers” and provides on-demand access to these remote workers.

Benefits

Per Bite Ninja, the company provides operators with several benefits. First and foremost, it would seem, is an answer to staffing challenges.

Obviously, if utilizing virtual cashiers costs less than recruiting, hiring, training and employing their counterpart, that’s a benefit. Another benefit? More staff is available to engage with and serve dining room and patio guests.

On the subject of no-call no-shows, the platform claims that simply doesn’t happen with their remote workers.

While not a solution for every operation, Bite Ninja also claims upsell averages of between $40 and $60 per shift. More importantly, the company says order accuracy through their virtual cashiers is nearly 100 percent. According to Bite Ninja, the average upsell per shift pays for a venue’s hired ninja. If that’s the case and virtual cashiers pay for themselves while making an operator more money, perhaps employees can see a pay bump.

Additionally, the company tracks some key metrics for their clients, including customer volume, order accuracy, and upsells.

KRG Hospitality Takeaway

We appreciate restaurant and bar tech that helps operators lower costs, increase profits, solve problems, improve the guest experience, and increase guest visit frequency.

However, we’re not fans of tech that eliminates a position from the industry and takes someone out of the workforce.

Bite Ninja isn’t a labor solution for every hospitality operation. For those who see the value in remote restaurant workers, at least the company isn’t building robots that eliminate one or more human jobs outright.

Image: Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

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