It's not an easy time to be hiring in the restaurant industry.
The labor pool is shrinking — the U.S. had 7.4 million job openings in June, but only 6 million people were looking for work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, the rise of the gig economy has created a new industry for young people to make their cash. That part-time server job at the restaurant that got you through high school is becoming less common.
Retaining a loyal, energized workforce is a process that starts long before an employee’s first day. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the restaurant game for decades, a clear, comprehensive, and actionable staffing plan is important, for both you and your team. It’s one of the first steps to building an engaged workforce. Everyone from your dishwasher to your lead bartender should feel like they’re a valued, contributing member of the team.
Anyone with hospitality experience will agree: No two restaurants are the same, which means a one-size-fits-all staffing solution isn’t going to work. Your restaurant concept informs the staff and skill sets you need to hire, making it important to consider the nuances between, say, a fast-casual chain and a fine dining establishment.
Your front-of-house restaurant staff should be made up of friendly folks who champion great customer service. But is hiring your ideal FOH team easier said than done?
The restaurant workforce pool is more dynamic than ever, with millennials making up the largest portion of the U.S. workforce. Consider what your potential employees are looking for in a workplace, how to keep them engaged at work, and how to retain the great ones. Let’s look at the who, how, and why of hiring for your restaurant’s front-of-house staff in today’s workforce pool.
Knowing Which Front-of-House Jobs to Hire
Front-of-house restaurant jobs are, by their very nature, customer-facing. After all, the front of house includes any area where customers exist. A positive attitude and an ability to effectively handle customer complaints (in the moment and afterwards) are critical. If it’s obvious an applicant is not a people person—or at least able to effectively put on a personable facade—then this side of the restaurant ain’t for them.
So who are these people-persons, and what should you, as an owner, do to make sure they contribute positively to your restaurant?
When searching for top talent, keep your company culture at the forefront of your search. You want someone who does a good job, of course, but you also want an employee who encourages your team, delights your guests, and works well with others.
SuViche, a Peruvian restaurant in Miami, FL, is honest about how much their people matter. On their website’s careers page, they’ve got an overview of their company, the career opportunities that offer advancement, and their company culture.
"We look for people that love coaching, know how to set priorities, work with a sense of urgency and understand the importance of accountability. We place more value on character, principles and behavior than the technical knowledge needed to perform a certain job"