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How to Hire Restaurant Staff

A business is nothing without its people. This cliché used by startups and massive corporations alike, and as with most clichés there’s an element of truth behind it. In the service industry, it’s probably even more true than in most.

The key to success when hiring restaurant staff is blending together the right mix of experience with youthful enthusiasm. This is partly down to costs — seasoned professionals come at a premium — and partly to keep things fresh and interesting. But how do you go about finding the right restaurant employees who are going to make your business a success?

Recruiting the core team

Every type of restaurant will need a slightly different configuration, but when you’re just starting out at a bare minimum you will need the following restaurant staff:

Restaurant Manager(s)

The glue that holds everything together. A word-of-mouth recommendation is key here, so tap into your network to see who might be able to make an introduction. Remember they’ll need a break, so have a solid deputy in mind.

Front-of-house staff

A collection of hosts, servers, runners, bussers, and bartenders. This is a migratory workforce and one which can be attracted via social media. Offer referral bonuses to those you’ve already recruited to encourage them to share opportunities.

Back-of-house staff

In addition to hiring a chef, you need a kitchen manager, sous chef, line cooks, and dishwasher(s). Agencies might be useful for quick hires, while local vocational colleges offer an avenue to uncover potential talent.

Compared to other industries, the restaurant trade has a particularly high turnover of staff. So even when you have the right workforce in place, never stop looking for people to join you.

As well as referrals and social media, you might want to consider a permanent listing on a job site for a particularly high-churn role, or having a headhunter on a retainer to keep their eye out for any individuals who might make the difference to your business.

Get a workforce that works

The characteristics of a good employee are the same wherever you want them to work in your restaurant. “Reliable team players with a positive attitude” could be an attribute listed on any restaurant job description.

You want to work with people who you can trust, who understand where they fit in the context of the business, and who you’ll enjoy working with. Isn’t that ultimately the reason you’re getting into the restaurant business in the first place?

While it’s tempting to rustle up all your friends and their relatives who might be in need of a job to fill the positions you need to run your operation, avoid the temptation to do people a favor by giving them a role. This is a business, and moreover, you need to hire professional restaurant staff who, if they are not seasoned, can be trained into excellence.

Charting out staff needs

Creating a good culture is about both the personalities of people, but also how hard you ask them to work. Even the best blend of staff will turn against you if they’re not given the opportunity to do their jobs effectively.

Review your staff needs by charting out the expected traffic over the first three months of your business to determine the volume of staff necessary for each shift.

Every restaurant is different, but as an example for each shift in a typical 50-60 cover restaurant, you will need:

Casual Restaurant

5–6 tables for each FOH staff member, with 4 BOH staff.

Fine Dine Restaurant

4 tables for each FOH staff member, with 6 BOH staff.

When advertising for roles, you need to be as accurate as possible in your predictions of the expected work hours otherwise, they’ll quickly move on to something more stable.

It’s also imperative that you get the timing right. There’s no point securing an amazing team three months before you open your doors as they’ll likely find another gig during that window. Be ready to put people to work (and pay them) as soon as you’re able to make them a job offer.

Interview Questions to Ask When Hiring Restaurant Staff

Get a leg up on hiring restaurant staff that work out right away, and stay longer.

How Training Improves Restaurant Labor Costs

Your staff doing their jobs right saves you money.

How to Reduce Your Employee Turnover Rate

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