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8 Tips for Pizzerias Facing a Skilled Labor Shortage

October 9 2019 by Dan Pecha

Waitress Taking Order.jpgLabor shortages are increasingly common in a variety of industries, with foodservice being among the most prevalent. The demand for higher wages and benefits coupled with low unemployment rates has fueled hiring competition for both skilled labor and entry level workers.

As a result, independent restaurant and pizzeria chain owner/operators are rethinking processes and finding alternate ways to deal with the shallow labor pool.

Get The Word Out

The days of posting a "Help Wanted" sign in the window are long gone. Get — and keep — the word out about your restaurant and what you have to offer using these go-to's:

Keep ads open (even if positions are filled)

The team you've assembled may be really talented, but that doesn't mean you can coast on hiring. Should one or two employees decide to leave, the gaps could send your pizzeria into a tailspin. Having perpetual ads posted for core positions helps you build connections with skilled labor and keeps quality candidates on your radar.

Offer careers, not jobs

Students graduating high school may have the raw talent you're seeking, but need some direction in shaping skills. Promote positions at high school guidance centers, job fairs, local civic organizations, etc., as having growth potential — a promising career in the food industry may be exactly what attracts budding talent. 

Get social

Your pizzeria's culture is unique. Use social media platforms to tell your story. It's an easy, cost-efficient way to reach young people potentially looking for or looking to switch jobs. Plus, your current employees could add testimonials and/or share your posts through their networks.

Ask for referrals

Chances are good that your existing team members know people who want to work for you, and are a good fit. You may never know until you ask for referrals! Set up a simple program that incentivizes employees to provide some possible candidates. Should things work out with a new hire based on program criteria, the referring employee receives a cash bonus or other prize.

Cultivate Your Culture

Many operators have discovered offering a positive, well-run and employee-centric environment is a great way to attract and retain workers. They are also turning to pre-made pizza products to maximize the time and effort of existing team members.

Here are five tips for cultivating a pizzeria culture that’s a magnet for quality employees, and running an operation that’s the most efficient possible:

Focus your efforts

Limit your menu offerings to those dishes you make exceptionally well or that are unique to your restaurant. That way, you can thoroughly train your kitchen staff on preparation and waitstaff in selling these items to boost confidence and prevent frustration or burnout.

Cross train

Providing opportunities for front-of-the-house staff to learn back-of-the-house duties and vice versa helps employees gain an appreciation for each other’s contributions and pain points, fosters collaboration, and can encourage tip-sharing. It is also a great way to leverage downtime for training and increase potential for shift covering.

Be reasonably flexible

Staff scheduling can be a sticking point in the food industry and, understandably, not all conflicts can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. However, implementing a scheduling system that accommodates most staff requests will demonstrate that you value your employees’ time both on and off the clock.

Be sincere and reward

Your team works hard, and stellar efforts deserve to be recognized. Reward employees for a job well done with gift cards for fuel or groceries, a team outing, or a designated employee of the month parking spot. Even if you don’t have a full-blown rewards system in place, a sincere compliment backed with genuine enthusiasm can go a long way to keeping morale high.

You might consider implementing an employee loyalty program that acknowledges length of service annually with a premium incentive like a day off or cash. It's a great way to encourage long-term employment and give a nod to experienced team members.

Leverage pre-made crusts, dough balls, and sauces

Cutting prep time doesn’t mean cutting quality. Pre-made crusts, pre-made dough balls and fully prepared sauces from the experts at Alive & Kickin’ Pizza Crust help you reallocate limited labor and manage the bottom line by:

  • Reducing the number of team members and time required to make pizzas to maximize staff efficiencies and minimize per-pie labor costs
  • Maintaining consistency in pizza preparation so training and service is uniform and economical across locations
  • Controlling food costs so there’s more money in the budget for attracting and compensating skilled labor

For more insights on building and keeping a team of enthusiastic brand advocates even when labor shortages abound in the industry, download The 1-2-3s of Restaurant Employee Retention. Click the button below to download your copy now!


The 1-2-3s of Restaurant Employee Retention Tip Sheet

Categories: General Operations, Restaurants

Dan Pecha

Written by Dan Pecha

Pizzeria Consultant
Dan is a hugely important slice of Alive & Kickin’ (see what we did there?). He started in the pizza business when he was just 14 and eventually opened his own chain of restaurants, supplying his own dough balls for each of them. He expanded to supplying dough products to other operations, then founded the Dough Shop®. Alive & Kickin’ was thrilled to acquire the Dough Shop® in 2015.