7 Innovative Hiring Strategies for Restaurant Owners

The restaurant industry employs a surprisingly high percentage of all American workers. Despite the fact that many people have current or previous experience in and around the food service industry, it's not always easy to recruit the best people for positions. Many servers and cooks see the job as a temporary way to earn money and gain experience before moving on. Restaurants can provide fantastic experience as a first job, but many restaurants can also provide fulfilling and long-term careers. Either way, your business growth largely depends upon having great employees when you need them.

Creative Ways to Hire Great Employees

Turnover tends to be high in most restaurants, so restaurant owners and managers can probably improve their business by fine tuning their hiring strategies with these tips:

1. Look for Talent Before You Absolutely Need Them

Even if you're well-staffed this week, you never know what might happen in the future. As your business grows, you're bound to need more employees; and some employees will move on without offering much notice. Because of this, you should always be willing to accept applications, even if you don't need to hire an extra person right away. To make this easy, you might post an online application. When you do need to add more workers, you will have a database of prospects right at your fingertips.

2. Establish a Relationship with Cooking and Food-Service Schools

Students who have already committed to a career in the restaurant industry should offer you a good pool of talent. Even if you don't intend to start new employees at a high level, you can still offer these students the experience that they need. In fact, many future chefs would probably be willing to accept work as a line cook or even a server just to get experience in a real kitchen and make some extra money. You might sponsor some school events or even offer internship positions for the school.

3. Ask Your Customers if They Know Anybody

You could put cards on the table or a sign on the wall that mentions that you're interested in hiring new staff. You might even offer a discount or a free meal to any existing customers who refer a future employee of your establishment. Some of your customers are bound to either need a job or know somebody else who does. Personal referrals from people who already like your restaurant should work out well. Besides, customers will view you positively if they know you are providing jobs for more local people.

4. Get Help from Your Employees

Your best employees are also likely to offer you a great source of referrals. Since they work for you, they're likely to have a realistic attitude about your business. You already know and trust these people. Thus, their referrals are bound to be more credible than the ones that you might gather from perfect strangers. You might also ask your employees what they like about their jobs to help you craft job postings.

5. Add Job Postings to Your Newsletter, Website or App

These days, most restaurants have websites. To stay in touch with customers, they may even have a regular newsletter or app that contains promotions and updates about the business. If you don't have a way to stay in touch with customers online, you should consider establishing one for many reasons. If you already have a website, email or text list, or an app, you can also use them to publish your job postings.

6. Mention Your Job Postings to Local Vendors and Other Business Contacts

Your vendors and other business contacts are already associated with the restaurant industry. These people are bound to know people who work in other restaurants around your town. Perhaps they can think of somebody who is looking for another job because they unhappy with their current company, want a shorter commute or would like a different position. Vendors can provide a powerful resource when you need to know something about your local restaurant industry.

7. Consider Using a Recruiter

If you use a recruiter, you will have to pay for their services. If you are hiring entry-level employees, you may not care to have this extra expense. On the other hand, you may need to use a recruiter to find experienced chefs, trained managers, or professional servers for a fancier restaurant. Recruiters may cost money, but they can probably save you a lot of time and even head off problems that you may not have foreseen.

A Restaurant's Employees are the Face of the Business

When customers pay money to dine out, they care about the quality of the food and the service they receive. Since you can't possibly do everything by yourself, you'll need to count on your employees to do their jobs as well as you would. To make sure you always have sufficient cash to recruit and hire the employees you need, you might consider an online line of credit as a source of restaurant funding. This way, you can withdraw funds when you need them so you can grow your restaurant business.


Post written by Jami Schwartz, head of content & marketing technologies at Kabbage, the small business loan pros.