Hiring and retaining talent in a city like San Francisco is one of many difficult challenges restaurant owners face. In metros where the cost of living exceeds what restaurants can afford to pay their employees, restaurant employees are either moving, juggling multiple jobs or leaving the industry all-together. While we can’t solve the the cost of living crisis, what we can do is come up with creative solutions to help you staff your restaurant. This week, Yelp Reservations partnered with Instawork, a marketplace for local jobs used by nearly 2,000 restaurants, bars, and cafes, to learn more about the current employment landscape. Here are the top 7 tips for hiring restaurant staff in a competitive market that you can start using today.
1. Extend Your Labor Pool
Get creative with who you hire. There are several restaurants in San Francisco who have looked outside of the traditional hiring pool and had great success. Old Skool Cafe (located in Bayview Hunter’s Point) focuses on providing employment for at-risk individuals and they specifically work with individuals between the ages of 16 and 22. Mozzeria in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood is completely owned and run by deaf employees, which makes for a different and incredible dining experience. Located in Hayes Valley, the Bakeworks has taken a very socially responsible approach to hiring new talent to their team. With a focus on providing training and employment for disabled, homeless and at-risk individuals, they give back by helping those who may need a foot in the door to become thriving members of the community. By extending your labor pool, not only are you accessing a group of people who are more than willing and able to join your team, you’re also creating a unique experience and making a valuable contribution to the community!
2. Nail Your Job Posts
First, sign up with Instawork. This is a great, easy-to-use platform that will help you not only find the talent you’re looking for but also help with setting up and scheduling interviews. Once you’ve done that, spend some time on your job posts! Nothing fancy necessary but be sure to include the most important information anyone seeking a job is looking for: location, compensation, and spanish translation—Instawork sees an average of 25% more applicants for postings with a Spanish translation! Keep it short and sweet (but not too short) and add some photos.
3. Move Fast
According to Meghani, the average front of house candidate gets a job within 72 hours, back of house candidate within 40 hours—that’s fast, which means you need to move even faster! Be on top of your applications and respond quickly. This can be an all-day process, but worth it in the end. Additionally, if you like setting up a test shift, or a stage, consider combining that with the interview rather than scheduling two separate days for the two. The more you can get done in one swoop, the better for both you and the candidate.
4. Text First, Email Last
I don’t know about you, but if your personal inbox is anything like mine, email is not the best way to get a quick response from me. When reaching out to applicants to schedule an interview, confirm an interview or even change the time – text is best! Second to that? Phone call. Last resort, email.
5. Get Creative With Compensation
This is something many restaurants have been experimenting with for awhile—new compensation structures to pay employees more and even out the pay disparity between servers and cooks. Some restaurants are giving out quarterly bonuses based on tenure, encouraging employees to stick around and create a sense of loyalty. Other restaurants use tip pooling or sharing, creating a structure where both front and back of house employees receive a percentage of tips. Some restaurants are eliminating tipping entirely, the most well-known trailblazer being Danny Meyer. While some of these moves may be somewhat controversial, the reality is that compensation has to change with the times.
6. Cross-Train Roles
Most restaurant employees hold down more than one job. What if you could offer them that second, or even third job? Creating more opportunities creates more loyalty within your team and also provides them with options to earn extra cash. This can lead to lower turnover rates and higher employee morale.
7. Partner With Neighboring Restaurants
Not able to offer more than one role to your employees? Team up with other restaurants in the neighborhood to offer more employment opportunities. Give first dibs on job openings to staff of a neighboring restaurant and ask them to do the same. This not only helps you, it helps your staff as well, reducing (even eliminating) their commute time between jobs.
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