Labor costs are one of the largest expenses facing restaurants today. Even with a proposed $15 minimum wage set aside, the cost to attract, hire and retain a good workforce costs a lot of time and money—all of these things made tougher of course, when there’s a limited pool of talent to select from.
Headlines such as Where Have All the Cooks Gone? and Not Enough Cooks in the Restaurant Kitchen have become prevalent in the last twelve months, and touch on a variety of contributors such as cooks with one or two years of experience who were applying for jobs better suited to 10-year veterans, attractive jobs in food science with better pay and hours, or simply—there are more restaurants, period. Cooks also have a large selection of job opportunities that aren’t in a traditional restaurant (like food trucks or becoming a personal chef), so how do you compete with that?
Start With Branding
Think about your marketing strategy for attaining and retaining customers. Whether it’s your focus on fresh ingredients, impeccable service, or your commitment to sustainability efforts, chances are that many of your potential applicants were drawn to your job posting because they were familiar with your brand already.
Leverage Your Word-of-Mouth Referrals With Social Media
Recently the Colorado Restaurant Association hosted its first ever Technology Summit, a one-day event focused on sessions and panels to discuss how to leverage technology in the restaurant. Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the most effective forms of marketing out there and social media networks have made it that much easier to find referrals and your six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Automation is Key
VP of Operations at Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard, Scott LeFever, estimated their cost-to-hire cost around $1200, which includes: the cost of advertising the position, a recruiter, the time involved in the interview process, and sourcing a talent sorter (to confirm qualifications).
You can help combat your labor costs by automating the hiring process as much as possible. These automations may include implementing a series of training programs with videos, quizzes and more to help onboard new staff more quickly; fast casual concepts might benefit more readily by these training programs which can be set up by station (e.g. the fry station).
Retain Your Labor
Retention is one of the biggest ways to reduce your labor costs. The longer you keep employees, the less you shell out on acquisition and training. Plus, more seasoned employees means reducing the risk of costly mistakes How do you keep employees longer? Continue reading.
Offer Compelling Benefits
Happy Employees = Higher Employee Retention = Happy Customers
It’s not a complicated equation, nor should it be a new one if you’re the owner of any business.
Good or bad, employees nowadays expect more than just the long hours and low pay synonymous with the restaurant industry. Offer career tracks for motivated employees who want to grow with you and your brand. Ensure you provide a good mix of benefits (maybe an after shift drink?) that keeps morale high in your team. Some restaurants even close for an entire day for special team day activities. Can’t take the hit from being closed a day? Consider partnering with another chef to host a pop up in your restaurant—that means more marketing for them, and perhaps a cut of the profits for you.
Another perk of good benefits? Happy employees also make for more productive ones too.
And remember, behind every strong team is an equally strong leader—always remember to communicate regularly with your team.