In an industry routinely tested by employee turnover, legislative mandates, and heated competition, restaurant operators big and small confront an ever-pressing challenge: attracting top talent and keeping that talent in the fold.
And it’s a challenge, many restaurateurs agree, that maintains a direct impact on the bottom line.
“If we can have a more consistent experience from the kitchen to our servers because of high-quality, long-term employees, then we’ll win with customers,” says Chris Campbell, president of Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse, a 13-unit chain spread across six Northeastern states.
Rick Parker, senior vice president of marketing at Snagajob, the nation’s largest hourly employment network for job seekers and employers, points to an internal Snagajob study that found restaurants earn 40 percent of their business from returning customers.
“And high-performing employees are critical to good business and getting people to come back,” Parker says.
Of course, recruiting and retaining first-rate employees remain tasks easy to discuss, yet difficult to execute.
On the recruiting side, Parker says, it’s a mistake for operators to rely on walk-in traffic alone, particularly at times of need.
“You’ll get enough people to fill slots, but you won’t consistently attract A-level players,” says Parker, whose Virginia-based firm currently works with more than 13,000 casual-dining locations.
Rather, Parker urges operators to seek a steady flow of employee candidates via advertising, referrals, and other applicant-attracting avenues; this, Parker contends, will allow the restaurant to be more selective in its hiring and resist falling into a trap of dire need.