If you own a restaurant – or plan to in the future – hiring staff should be a key concern. According to YouGov, the hospitality industry in the UK has an annual staff retention level of just 70 percent – well below the UK average of 85 percent. As a result, 59 percent of restaurant owners and 63 percent of quick service restaurant owners list staffing as a significant challenge to their business’ success (Toast).
This is because the majority of restaurant employees are young workers aged between 16 and 30, many of whom use part-time jobs in the hospitality industry as a temporary source of income during college or university, or whilst finding a full-time job in their preferred industry. A study by the NRAEF and the Centre for Generational Kinetics revealed that 82 percent of Generation Z employees say that their first job was in a restaurant, but three quarters of that percentage then left the sector for their long-term job. It is thought that the stressful nature of the work and low salaries mean that workers are reluctant to stay in restaurant jobs over long periods of time.
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High staff turnover rates can have a substantial impact on restaurants. The restaurant owner must set aside capital to recruit and select the appropriate candidate, train them and organise any administrative duties during the staff handover. The restaurant may decline in productivity during this period, especially if a new candidate cannot be found before the former employee leaves. Although staff departures and inductions only damage a business’ profitability in the short term, they can be detrimental if they are a regular occurrence. Therefore, it is important that restaurant owners do as much as they can to hire staff that will stay on at the restaurant for long periods of time.
What types of employees do I need?
The number of restaurant employees needed will vary from business to business, depending on the size of the enterprise and the owner’s ambitions for it, but let’s take a look at some of the most important types of restaurant employee (as listed by Entrepreneur).
Manager: The manager is at the top of the restaurant employee ladder and has the authority to oversee the other workers’ tasks. They open and close the restaurant, welcome customers, order stock, train staff and develop marketing campaigns, among other duties. Because this is such an important position, you should make sure that you hire someone who is up to the task – if you choose not to take on the role of manager yourself. The successful candidate should have at least three years of experience in the restaurant sector and at least two years of experience in a managerial position. Restaurant managers can work up to 60 hours a week, so the successful candidate must be able to demonstrate that they are passionate about your business and committed to upholding its standards.
Chef: The chef is one of the most important elements of a restaurant. You could have the friendliest waiting staff and the most beautiful décor, but if your food isn’t up to scratch, customers won’t be coming back. You should either hire experienced chefs that are able to cook your menu items with consistent finesse or candidates that display potential and be prepared to train them to your standards. Many medium-size restaurants hire three chefs – two full-time chefs (one to work during the day and one to work during the evening) and one part-time chef to help out in peak hours.
Kitchen porter: This person will wash up the cutlery and crockery to ensure that the chefs always have clean plates for their meals and the waiting staff always have clean glasses and cutlery to take out to the tables. Hire one or two part-time workers who are reliable and don’t mind getting their hands dirty – literally!
Waiting staff: These employees will form the face of your business, so be sure to select people who have a positive attitude and good attention to detail. They will probably need to wipe down tables, take reservations, seat customers and take payment as well as bringing out food from the kitchen. Therefore, they should be able to multi-task and remember the demands and requirements of individual customers. The number of waiting staff you hire will depend upon the size of your restaurant, the number of customers you expect to serve and the number of tasks you expect servers to carry out.
Bartender: If you intend to have a small bar area within your restaurant, you will need to hire a bartender. They should be someone who has a good knowledge of alcoholic beverages and the ability to pour and mix them confidently in front of customers. You should think about whether they will also be responsible for tidying and cleaning the bar area and restocking the area with beverages and garnishes.
Top Tips for Restaurant Recruitment
- Develop a clear idea of the type of person you would like to hire. Of course, this doesn’t mean discriminate by gender or race etc., but think about the attitude and personality of your ideal candidate. Consider the theme, values and target market of your restaurant, and how they could be reflected in your employees.
- Be prepared to provide training. While experience is important, you could be missing out on great personalities or real talent by rejecting applicants who don’t have what you perceive to be ‘good experience’. You can teach trainee chefs how to prepare your dishes or waiting staff how to deal with customers, but it is the personal characteristics of your employees that will have the biggest impact on your customers.
- Look out for candidates with food safety certificates. Although this somewhat contradicts the previous point, food hygiene is crucial in the restaurant industry, so make a note of people who already understand this, as this could serve you well in the future.
- Listen to your candidates. You may meet applicants that already have expertise in a specific area. Make the most of this; for example, if you meet a potential bartender who knows how to make a particular type of drink really well, you could incorporate this into your menu.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©