One challenge is universal among restaurant owners, new and old: hiring the best restaurant staff. It's not enough to just fill shifts anymore, as your servers, cooks and managers all play a part in the customer's dining experience in one way or another. Choosing the right people for those roles can contribute as much to your restaurant's success as the items on your menu.
How you find job candidates and who you eventually hire is only one part of the process. Restaurant training, not only in the proper way to use your POS or take and fill orders, but also in how to interact with patrons, is something every manager should make time for.
We recently spoke with Eli Feldman, Founder of Clothbound, Owner of 3 Princes Consulting and former Director of Operations of Barbara Lynch Gruppo Inc about restaurant staffing, restaurant training, and how they impact the culture and success of your restaurant.
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Read the full transcript below.
My name is Eli Feldman. I’m the co-founder of Clothbound and also the owner of Three Princes Consulting. I have been in restaurants since I was thirteen. I started out as a bagel baker, and I fell in love with them. My father was a server for the first decade of my life, and I have always just thought restaurants were the coolest places in the world .
What restaurant hiring trends have you seen?
I think that as competition increases for great employees, hiring has has certainly become a heightened focus. Restaurants are now needing to tell a better story about what being a part of a team is all about. There’s an imbalance between supply of people and the demand from restaurants that has really been the case for about a decade. And you’re seeing a lot of shifting in how people are thinking about hiring.
How does restaurant culture impact hiring?
The people you hire have the greatest impact on the overall culture of the restaurant. One of the things we try to do both in consulting and with Clothbound is if you don’t know what the key elements and the key values you’re looking for to cede your culture, how do you go out into the world and find the people who represent them.
I think it really starts with having a common, sincere, and shared vocabulary around what’s important to you as a restaurant, and then aligning the traits that you’re looking for in team members with what those are. When I say heightened consciousness and heightened consciencousness around it, to me it really starts there.
Having an honest and open dialogue about what is important to you as a restaurant. These conversations are difficult, and they’re uncomfortable. No one in their daily life talks about the values that they have and the importance of those values.
Carving out a little time ideally pre-opening to discuss what’s important to you - and I think it’s helpful to think about it in traunches or categories- product, people, finance, are the three big buckets that we tend to start with and drill down from there.
We have always tried to talk to restaurants about isolating words and phrases that are really representative of the culture. I was working with a restaurant recently where one of the key things we really touched on was that they wanted a culture of generosity - whether it was the employer to employee relationship, the staff to guest, from a kitchen perspective when it came to everything down to bread service. So then you go out into the world and you try to find people who represent a kind of generosity. A spirit of warmth, approachability. It’s always hard to find what you’re looking for if you don’t actually articulate what you’re looking for.