In 2019, AUSTRALIA welcomed more than 300,000 travellers on working visas and 250,000 students. A large number took up employment in foodservice, retail, healthcare and agriculture.

The arrivals have mostly stopped, and many local hospitality workers have also left the industry — low pay and poor conditions take their toll. The old methods of recruiting, managing staff and driving productivity all need to be reconsidered and revised.

Improve job advertisements by selling the benefits
Most ads are selfish and ask for ‘creative, hard-working, committed team players’, who are ready to work every weekend. Basic marketing tells us that people listen to radio WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Sell your easy parking or transport links, flexible roster, modern kitchen, efficient systems, good pay and friendly team.

Promote your area
Regional rents and real estate can be much less expensive than housing in the city and is worth a mention in your ad. Your website should include information about local attractions, schools and lifestyle as well as your opening hours, facilities and menus. Working at your venue could provide an opportunity for a chef to buy property they couldn’t afford in a big city.

Consider using a professional recruiter
They do all the work — hunting, shortlisting, interviewing and recommending. There’s a fee, but the cost of doing it yourself is much greater — you know how well it’s worked in the past or not! Use a migration agent to help current workers achieve permanent residency.

Modernise the menu
TV food shows are popular all over Australia, and everyone is thinking about food in a new way. If the highlight of your offering is schnitzel, you’ll be seen as being stuck in the past. Keep the favourites, but a fresh new approach is essential.

Update digital systems
Online rostering results in tighter cost control and easier scheduling. Integrate systems with your bookkeeping to reduce compliance issues. Plus, online work systems make jobs easier to understand. Using an iPad is just as important as using a knife for modern chefs.

Build a relationship with your local school
Hospitality is a popular subject, and working with teachers could mean you’re the first to hear about the best students. Host site visits and offer work experience to students. Managers and chefs could also offer to be guest speakers on having a successful career in the industry.

Keep in touch with former staff
Whether it’s connecting on social media or just sending a text, it’s a good idea to maintain connections with workers who could always return or recommend someone for available jobs.

Jump on the training bandwagon
It won’t take long to find a training provider who will support you with supervision, materials and even a subsidy. Everyone needs to start ‘growing their own’, and the hospitality training sector is highly developed.

Think outside the square about who you will employ
You may prefer a low-cost 16-year-old, but the 45-yearold could be more stable and flexible. Set your standards high — if the applicant doesn’t meet them but has a good attitude, start the coaching and provide constructive feedback.