You want great staff but you don’t have a tonne of money to throw at a recruitment agency, and you certainly don’t have an in-house HR department. Here, Geremy Glew, chef and recruitment specialist, shares tips on how restaurateurs can hire autonomously.

First of all, people are everything. The right people can make your life easier, your business more successful and your customers happy. By using the following tips when you’re recruiting, you can attract exceptional people to your team and have them grow with your business. That means spending less on recruiting, plus developing great long term relationships that serve you and your business, and ultimately your customers and workforce.

At Placed Recruitment we ask every applicant pre-interview what they’re looking for. The top priorities, almost without exception are development and training and – you know it’s coming – yes, work/life balance. I can feel the eyes rolling out there, it’s not always what you think. More on that later.

It may not be the case for every business or every employee, but a lot of your staff actually want responsibility; they want and need to be challenged, to feel rewarded, to make an impression. Hopefully the tools and processes set out below will not only build employee satisfaction, but will also help you to secure those rarest of gems – the ones that help to take the pressure off you.

1. Research

Before you go to market for new employees, know where you sit in that market so you learn what you may need to address (perhaps your location is a challenge for staff members) and also what you should be singing from the rooftops (e.g your chefs work four day weeks).

Direct-Recuitment-Guidelines.jpgImage: Recruitment Agency in India

There are three main things people are keen to know before submitting an application for a hospitality role: realistic hours per week, the number of straight shifts and double shifts, and the money.

When finding out where you sit in the market, you can get info from:

  •, where it is pretty openly advertised.
  • Contacts at other local businesses. People are usually quite generous and will help wherever they can.
  • A local recruitment agency. Request a bit of feedback on your conditions and how they compare with other businesses in the market.

2.  Retention

Just like customers, it’s far easier to keep an existing customer than it is to attract a new one. By focusing on retaining great staff, you mitigate the need to recruit.

Imagine being able to offer a workplace where people actually want to show up and even refer their friends and ex-colleagues? Think of companies like Google and Facebook – not with slippery slides, free laundry services and ping pong tables, but a workplace that values a good job, well done. When people love going to work, it reverberates throughout the business and even the customers feel it and return to be a part of it.

retention.pngImage: Curran and Associates

Some of the most important things to remember are:

  1. Don’t flog your staff – It’s the ‘short game’ mentality
  2. Show appreciation – It’s an oldie but comes up a lot when people are looking to leave. When people don’t feel valued or looked after, they leave in droves, and that costs you money.
  3. Support work/life balance – This and ‘good hours’ sits at the top of 90 percent of people’s wish lists, so you must make sure you are at least market, if not better. It could be a simple matter of more creative rostering.
  4. Be flexible with working arrangements – This has a double whammy benefit. It gives you access to a new (and motivated) workforce and also fits the desirable attributes wish list that contributes to higher staff retention.
  5. Talk to your staff – Monthly catch-ups, even a coffee and an informal chat can mean fewer surprises and more engaged, more interested, more eager-to-please staff.
  6. Tips distribution – Many businesses are now re-evaluating their tip structure, increasing kitchen tips to between 20 and 40 percent.
  7. Develop people – When potential up-and-comers are given a task to achieve and they achieve it, reward them with further training. The training doesn’t have to be expensive (it can be online or in-house) and will boost employees’ self-worth.
  8. Upskill staff and spread your workload – Empowering your staff can initially feel like another job to do and something else to manage. With a little work upfront it creates a more sustainable business model, provides your staff with professional growth and creates space in your life. Additionally, word gets around that you are an employer that trains and develops which then attracts other candidates. Your staff can be trained to handle recruitment, social media, negotiation or finding better deals with suppliers.
  9. Have your staff mentor each other. Show them how to coach (don’t just tell them to do it. Lead by example!)

jobinterview.jpgImage: Business News Daily

3.  Recruitment

Spend a day setting up your internal system and processes around recruitment. Create forms, flows and files that simplify your system and which anyone can follow.

Screening candidates
A five minute screen (in-person during a resume drop-off or over the phone) can save you an hour long interview or even worse, taking someone on and having to pay them out for a week when you let them go two weeks later. Implement a basic dot point system to follow when doing a screen. It can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars on inappropriate hires.

These are critical questions to ask:

  • What are you looking for? Without a doubt, this is the most important question. Ask this before you tell them what the opportunity is. You only tell them about the job if it fits what they’re looking for.
  • How much money do you want? What kind of position do you want? What’s important to you? Any booked holidays coming up?

Of everything we do in the recruitment process, references are the one thing that should never be skipped. Think of it like your daughter marrying a man you’ve never met nor spoken to. Speak to referees who have worked with a candidate and can speak from experience. But crucially, don’t just take what you are given. Ask the applicant for the referee you want to speak to, for example the head chef, owner or manager, even if they are not listed on the resume.

Spend just five minutes with the referee and you’ll either feel confident to employ the candidate or have some more questions to ask the next referee.

There are a lot of great questions to ask, but here are a few:

  • Where did you see them excel?
  • Where did they need help?
  • How were they regarded by other team members?
  • What behaviours did you observe when this person was under pressure?
  • Explain your role and situation and ask what they think about the applicant in that position?
  • Would you re-hire them?

Make the candidate feel welcome and comfortable. Deformalise the meeting to bring down their guard and so you can get to know each other quicker. Remember that your interviewee is assessing you and your vacant position while you’re assessing them. Show respect by being prepared; have their resume printed out, with questions jotted down. As a general rule we tend to focus on behavioural patterns such as not taking responsibility, being negative, dramatic or more positively, seeing potential and acting, creating solutions to problems, seeing the big picture etc.

Try to avoid fixating on any one part of the process. I like the analogy of a set of scales: a negative attribute sends it to the left, a positive to the right. People don’t come perfectly packaged so it’s about finding a balance and making an informed overall decision.

Geremy Glew is managing director at Placed Recruitment and has been recruiting for chefs and broader hospitality for the last 20 years.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *