Roofers Union's Wine Director Chas Jefferson holding a glass of wine
Karlin Villondo Photography

Training the individual is a focus for Roofers Union GM Dave Delaplaine and wine director Chas Jefferson (pictured above). 

How Restaurants are Retaining Good Employees

Opportunities for growth and tech-integrated hiring are helping restaurants keep their best employees in-house.

In 2019, it’s all too easy for restaurant operators to find themselves in a hiring and training crisis. A strong economy has taken potential employees off the market, labor costs are on the rise, and an oft-overwhelming technological landscape is ready and waiting to be integrated into new hiring and training practices.

Industry professionals are looking for new strategies to attract, train, and retain team members. Some are rethinking their incentive programs; others are providing handy written or digital post-training checklists; still others are imbuing their hiring and training methods with a laser focus on the individual employee.

FSR heard from three industry experts—two restaurants and one foodservice partner—to learn what draws the best team members to a brand and what is required for cream-of-the-crop employees to stay put.

Gregg Nettleton, President and COO, FAT Brands

Put yourself in the shoes of the greeter, server, kitchen manager, etc. What are their pain points? What makes them want to work inside of your four walls and not down the street? Identify those hurdles, implement real solutions, and be consistent in your approach. That won’t eliminate your hiring woes, but it will make the process that much easier.

Moving forward, I expect to see a greater merger between today’s technology platforms and the changing mindset of the labor force. Think of it this way: An automobile many years ago had the fundamentals—engine, wheels, radios, body—and that was enough for the driver. Today, the selling points are all about the personalized experience like subscriptions, integrated mobile devices, Wi-Fi, internet, weather maps, and other convenience-related features. The fundamentals are still important but are now expected and therefore make up less of the selling proposition. 

Our trainers share the information; they don’t lecture. Do not treat outstanding performance as normalized activity. Recognize it, reward it, and share it.

Dave Delaplaine, General Manager and Beer Director, Roofers Union, Washington, D.C. 

Every individual is different. There are, of course, some elements of training that are important to go over with everyone, but we try to take training day by day in order to determine which areas are most important to work on during a given shift. 

Lead by example; if I am training someone and want them to learn the correct way, I find it most helpful that they see me help them do it. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing a superior help you do your job. 

It is important to focus on the individual. If you want them to become the most successful team member they can be, pay a lot of attention during their training to make sure you are giving them the tools they need to grow. 

Once you’ve trained somebody for a position, start to think of other positions you can train them for. It is always best when you are able to hire from within. With a strong economy and fewer applicants to certain positions, it becomes that much more beneficial when you are able to train somebody up to fill an internal position. What they may lack in managerial experience they can make up for by knowing your systems in and out and you can focus on their leadership growth.

Kelley Emrey, Senior Manager, National Foodservice and On-Premise, Coca-Cola North America

Hiring managers should outline what they are looking for in potential employees with the creation of an employee profile. A few factors to consider are experience required, qualities and traits, core values, and personal and career goals.

Applications remain imperative to the hiring process, as they can reveal significant information about a potential candidate such as the person’s ability to follow directions or their level of thoroughness.

Once a candidate has progressed to the interview stage, getting a second opinion from another reference, such as a manager, is a step that is very helpful but rarely employed. Having an additional manager interview a candidate can yield new information about the interviewee, as diverse styles of questioning provide a more thorough picture of the candidate. 

Well-trained employees feel empowered, motivated, and even happy because they know exactly what their job is and how to manage through issues. These are the employees who are more likely to stay employed longer and have fewer work-related issues.

Once the in-person training is complete, it is helpful to provide written or digital guides and checklists as future reference tools. Hiring and training are likely to become more digital in nature. Personal videos may replace traditional résumés, and printed manuals will give way to 30-second how-to videos. For employers to attract the best talent going forward, they must stay up to date on digital trends and technologies.