What Independent Restaurant Company Employees Need to Hear from Their Owners

Restaurant Company Employees Need to Hear from OwnersHow do you become an employer of choice?

Every multi-unit independent restaurant company owner wants to be an “employer of choice.” But we all know the statistics: On paper there aren’t enough workers for the restaurant jobs we have now — much less those we will create tomorrow.  Your competitors can match you in pay and benefits; some can even beat you. And flexible scheduling is a given these days.

What Really Sets You Apart

The only thing that really sets you apart is your culture — and how your workforce relates to that culture.

In fact, establishing the right culture is the only long-term solution to successfully recruiting, enrolling, and leading the industry in retaining employees.  Your people need to hear about it, understand it, and connect to it.

Through the interview process, identify candidates who will do well in your culture; then, engage them. Talk about your culture even before you talk about money. Why? Money comes because of your culture — not the other way around.

Fostering Culture Is Hard But The Reward is Great

You may have read about my approach to making your brand a cause in last month’s QSR Magazine in the article “How to Hire, Train, and Retain the Best Employees,” by Kevin Hardy.

All my research has identified that, when you make your brand a cause — and market that both externally to your guests and internally to prospective employees — you hire the people you want to represent your brand and they stay.

Yes, it is that simple, but no one said it was easy.

My friend Chris Dahlander, CEO of Dallas-based Snappy Salads, says it like this:  “Building a restaurant is a one-time thing. Building your culture is an all-the-time thing that must be managed closer than your bottom line.”

4 Steps To Build a Strong Lasting Culture

Here is what top independent restaurant companies do to foster that culture — and hire and retain workforce and engage their guests.

  1. Audit. Before you say who you want to be, look inside and determine what you really are. An outside view may be necessary here to give you a reality check.
  2. Define. Once you find out how your organization is behaving, define both your aspirations and what you are happy with.
  3. Roll Out. Educate your people about the culture and how they’re expected to live it every shift, every day. Sell it to prospective employees — and, yes, to your guests — to create a unique bond between people no competitor can match.
  4. Measure. Create systems to ensure your culture is being tirelessly upheld. Emphasize it in your daily dialogue, pre-shifts, weekly operations meetings, monthly GMs meetings — even ownership and board meetings.

When you get your culture right you cure dreaded symptoms of employee disengagement, apathy, or worse and you ensure your guests feel the good vibes in your dining room and a personal connection to your brand.