“Here today, gone tomorrow” employee turnover is a relentless challenge for restaurant owners and operators. It’s tough enough finding qualified waitstaff, let alone those who fit your brand and standards.
You need not doom your pizzeria to the luck of the draw when hiring waitstaff. The “right team members” are out there, and with a solid “Five I’s” strategy you’ll not only find exceptional waitstaff — you’ll keep them around as long-term team members and customer satisfaction ambassadors!
Jot down a list of qualities that describe your ideal waitstaff team member. Of course it’s not realistic to think any one person will embody them all, but look around. There are probably already people on your crew who come close. What makes them standout employees? Tailor your “must-have” list — and expectations — to emulate your best performers and you’ll have a sound hiring benchmark for waitstaff.
You might also consider asking exceptional employees if they have family or friends who may be interested in coming onboard. Since birds of a feather flock together, chances are any people they recommend will possess many of the same traits you admire in your current star staffers.
It’s a foregone conclusion that you’ll interview for positions, but how you approach the process is paramount. Develop templates and procedures that every interviewer uses with every candidate, both during and after the interview. Consistency pays off. You’ll make efficient use of preparation and interview time because you have a “map” to keep you on course; you’ll gather the same type of information from each candidate, making apples-to-apples comparison easier; and, you’ll be able to weed out unsatisfactory candidates early on in the process.
If your operation is part of a larger chain or franchise, you may have access to a corporate interviewing structure. If so, use it. Independents are wise to establish a similar process of their own.
Make it a priority to follow up with character references and previous employers. “Asking around” about a candidate is one of the best ways to gain insight into his or her personality, attitude, and values. The same holds true when candidates are seated across from you. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first interview or the third — if you have a follow-up question, ask it. The answer may confirm a candidate’s key competencies, or perhaps reveal they aren’t a fit for your waitstaff team or restaurant.
Add some marketing strategy into the hiring mix. Define a clear message that showcases your culture and what makes working in your pizzeria unique and attractive to waitstaff. Also, leverage social media to get the word out — it’s a proactive, budget-friendly way to talk to people that could fill waitstaff vacancies.
Once you’ve found and hired the “right employees” to round out your waitstaff, show them you value and appreciate their commitment. Provide ongoing training, incentive programs, and other motivational opportunities that keep employees engaged and reward their hard work.
Recruiting and hiring waitstaff for your pizzeria's team can be tough during the restaurant industry's ongoing labor crunch, but these five best practices will help you rise to the challenge. So will The 1-2-3s of Restaurant Employee Retention, a tip sheet filled with actionable steps for finding and keeping stellar waitstaff team members. Click the button below to access your copy of this valuable tool now!