Tag Archive: Restaurant

  1. Restaurant Industry Trends: Two Major Disruptors Facing Restaurants Today

    To operate a restaurant, some things are the same as they’ve always been. Inside the four walls, the focus is on hot food, clean tables, and good service. But in today’s social and mobile-centric world, the customer is completely different, and the employee is completely different. What has made restaurants successful in the past is not what will make them successful in the future. They are having to adapt quickly—or die.

    In a recent episode of the Talent Playbook Podcast, we talked to Joni Doolin, founder and CEO of TDn2K, a market research organization that provides insights and analytics for the restaurant industry. Having founded this organization in 1995, Joni has seen the evolution of the industry and experienced restaurant industry trends first-hand.

    Two Seismic Shifts Happening in the Restaurant Industry

    We asked Joni: What restaurant industry trends have caused the most upheaval, and what are the biggest challenges facing the industry today? Here’s what she said.

    1. The on-demand delivery model

    There’s a fast food restaurant outside our office. There’s a drive-through, which is always quite full. There’s place to pick up call-ahead or text-in orders. There’s a constant coming and going of third-party delivery drivers (from services like Uber Eats or Grubhub). But you look inside the restaurant, and it’s empty.

    Restaurants are trying to manage the consumer’s expectation of ‘I want it now.’ They’re having to balance all kind of third-party ordering and delivery services, or they’re having to shift their business model to focus on delivery versus in-store experience. It’s an enormous complexity for our industry, and something we’re still working to figure out.

    2. The onslaught of information

    In the past decade, we’ve gone from driving with our eyes closed to TMI (too much information). It’s happened that fast. Think about insights or analytics teams. They didn’t exist ten years ago. Now, we’re swimming in so much data that we need teams of people to tell us what it means, what to pay attention to, and what to act on.

    We’re even seeing restaurant companies with data analysts on the HR team. That’s how important people and talent analytics have become. In the past, if you were going to open a hot dog stand at the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk, you would know foot traffic, you would know consumer profiles, you would know competitive pricing with in a 2-mile radius… All of that was readily available, but there were no metrics on the HR side. We’ve come to realize that those metrics matter too, and have a huge impact on the success of a business. But, it can quickly become a mess of data where we need dedicated people to make sense of it and help companies understand how to use it to their advantage.

    Bonus Question: Which restaurants rise to the top?

    Throughout her career, Joni has worked with all different types of restaurant companies. Young companies, established companies, “it” companies (and not-so-“it” companies) from fine dining to quick service and everything in between. Each year, Joni’s team at TDn2K recognizes outstanding restaurant performance through their Restaurant Industry Best Practices Award. In 23 years of giving this award, Joni has found that top-performing restaurants—when looking at financial performance, human capital performance, and guest satisfaction performance, as well as work practices in areas such as community involvement and employee engagement—come in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter if you have high guest checks or low guest checks, she says. It doesn’t matter if you’re the industry darling or the hot new trend.

    What does matter, then? What ultimately determines a restaurant’s success?

    Joni’s answer came easily in one word: Leadership.

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    For more on restaurant industry trends, and wisdom about embracing change, check out episode 9 of the Talent Playbook Podcast with Joni Doolin.

  2. Primanti Bro’s.: Finding Best-Fit Candidates for Grand Openings in 2017

    The assessment results help me decide if a candidate is the right fit for the position they applied for. The candidate receives a score from 1-5 on the assessment, and depending on the results, I know immediately whether to proceed or release the candidate from the interview process.

    Samantha Willing, Talent Acquisition Specialist
    Biggest challenge: Helping managers staff up for new restaurant openings

    About Primanti Bros.

    This sandwich shop, headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, began as a food cart in 1933 and now has a cult following. With 37 current locations and several openings planned for 2017, the Primanti Bro’s. growth plan is aggressive and will launch the brand into new areas across the U.S.

    Company Quick Facts

    • 37 locations and growing
    • 55 employees per store, on average
    • Working with Outmatch since 2016
    • Using assessments for hourly and management
    • Integrated assessments with talentReef ATS

    Hiring Challenges

    • Establishing an employment brand in new cities
    • Attracting talent outside their “hometown” fan base
    • Being fully staffed in time for grand openings
    • Tracking and managing turnover

    Assessments to Help Staff New Stores

    As a unique restaurant concept, Primanti Bro’s. seeks people who are passionate about the brand and fit the culture. With rapid expansion as a key initiative, recruiters and hiring managers must quickly fill front of house (FOH), back of house (BOH), and management positions for new locations with no existing staff. That’s why Primanti Bro’s. began using Outmatch assessments in 2016—to speed up the hiring process by targeting best-fit candidates.

    Results—Better Recruiting, Hiring, and Talent Management

    I’ve gotten great feedback from hiring managers. They say that the assessment scores cut way down on the time they spend deciding if a candidate meets our company’s expectations.

    Samantha Willing, Talent Acquisition Specialist
    Biggest challenge: Helping managers staff up for new restaurant openings

    Outmatch helps me find the right people to hire. I print out the interview questions that come with the assessment results, and it really helps keep my questions relevant to that particular candidate.

    Josh Garrity, GM “Head Coach” at Erie, PA location
    Biggest challenge: Getting quality candidates for FOH and BOH positions

    We have a high percentage of internal promotions, which speaks to our ability to grow talent. The assessment results help us understand an individual’s potential and strengths and weaknesses so that we can align succession and development plans accordingly.

    Cheryl Domitrovic, Director of Human Resources
    Biggest Challenge: Winning talent in competitive markets

  3. Are You Asking the Right Interview Questions?

    How do you really get to know a candidate during the hiring process? You’ve got a small amount of time to make a big investment, and depending on your process, you may only have one or two opportunities to talk with a candidate over the phone or face-to-face. To get the most out of these brief interactions, you have to be smart about the questions you ask.

    We’ve all heard that behavioral interviewing is more effective than asking hypothetical questions, but why?

    Avoid getting vague or generic answers

    Hypothetical questions put candidates in a future scenario where they can imagine ideal outcomes. They’ll tell you what they think you want to hear, and they won’t provide details about how they’ve worked through similar situations in the past because the hypothetical scenario hasn’t actually happened—and it doesn’t involve real people or real events.

    To see the difference, here are two interview questions centered around customer service:

    Hypothetical Q: “Tell me how you would handle an upset customer.”

    Behavioral Q: “Tell me about a time when a customer was unreasonable. What happened? What made the customer upset? How did you handle it? What was the end result?”

    As you can see, you’ll get much more insight when you ask for a specific example rather than an open-ended future scenario. Plus, when you put a candidate on the spot like this, you’re more likely to get honest answers about challenges and outcomes.

    Probe for more details

    When you probe for more details, like in the behavioral example above, you can quickly tell if the situation is real, and then tap into the decision-making process that led the candidate down a particular path. You can also ask what they learned from the situation. Here’s an example of how you can use probes to dig deeper:

    Q: “Tell me about a past performance review where you received positive feedback and then tell me about one where you received negative feedback.”

    Additional probes: “What have you done with that feedback? What can you still do to improve?”

    As the candidate responds, listen for subtleties around attitudes that may have influenced their behavior. Are they bitter about a negative incident, or did they use it as an opportunity to learn and grow? Do they blame an organization or a customer, or hold themselves accountable? Overall, did they handle the situation the way you would expect your employees to handle it?

    Ask about the assessment experience

    If you use job fit assessments, the candidate’s results will include behavioral interview questions and probes based on important success factors for the job. For example, if you’re hiring for a customer service role, you need to be sure the candidate has a strong sense of urgency and can be accommodating and friendly.

    It’s a also good idea to ask the candidate about their experience with the assessment. Here are some questions you might ask:

    Q: “What did you think about the assessment and have you ever taken one before?”

    Q: “How do you think you did on the assessment? We all have developmental areas we’re working to improve in our career. What areas do you think you scored lower on or what areas do you think you need to improve?”

    The first question will help you understand if the candidate felt anxious or overanalyzed any items while taking the assessment, and the second will help you determine if the candidate has a clear understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.

    The answers you get in an interview can lead you closer to choosing the right person (or the wrong person) for the role. So make every question count!

  4. Success Beyond the Four Walls

    The transition from general manager to multi-unit manager is especially challenging, and sometimes even your best GMs aren’t ready for it.

    In this article, learn how to select the right GMs for multi-unit management. Then, listen to our webinar for an even deeper dive into the traits, competencies, and critical experiences that lead to success in multi-unit.

    Interested in learning more? Check out our other HR Insights webinars!

    GM to MUM blog teaser

  5. Is Age Bias a Real Thing?

    Admit it. You probably have a favorite “type” of hire. It’s the person you take a chance on because they remind you of an employee that worked well in the past.

    In this article, see how playing favorites—even when it seems harmless—can hurt inevitably your hiring decisions.

    Age Bias - blog teaser3

  6. Top 10 Traits of a Quality Restaurant Hire

    Learn more about hiring top-notch summer employees on Fast Casual.

    It’s About Who You Hire This Summer, Not How Many

    When it comes to hiring, the restaurant industry continues to outpace many other industries. According to the National Restaurant Association’s chief economist Bruce Grindy, job growth is projected to outpace the overall economy in 2016.

    And if we see a repeat of last year’s numbers, restaurants will hire more than 500,000 people for summer employment alone.

    The summer we have on the horizon certainly looks promising—the economy is good and gas prices are down, which means restaurants are in for a strong season. In fact, all but two U.S. states are expected to benefit from tourism and consumer’s pent-up demand for restaurants.

    If summer is peak season for your restaurant, then your managers are already in full staff-up mode. NOW HIRING sign on the door. List of confirmed re-hires from last year. Open positions posted online, and a fresh stack of applications in hand.

    Seasoned managers know the drill. They look at last year’s sales and check the local event calendar to determine how many new hires they’ll need for the upcoming summer.

    But having enough people on the floor isn’t the only thing that matters. To have a successful summer, you need the right people on the floor. Since the two biggest KPIs in restaurants are guest experience and sales, managers need to consider guest focus and sales ability every time they hire.

    According to research of more than 500,000 job applicants, here are the most important traits to look for as you staff up your front and back of house:

    1. Sociability
    2. Accommodation to Others
    3. Frustration Tolerance
    4. Drive & Energy
    5. Integrity
    6. Multi-tasking
    7. Persuasiveness
    8. Pride in Work
    9. Teamwork
    10. Safety

    Many of these traits are difficult to gauge in an interview. After all, serious candidates will know what managers are looking for and show up ready to present their “best self.” With several positions to fill, managers don’t have time to dig past the surface.

    Rapid, one-off hiring like this works to fill the ranks, but it doesn’t help to get the right people on the floor. Managers are having to guess about job fit, which means they might be hiring the kind of people who won’t last the entire summer.

    To slow the cycle of hire-train-repeat, especially during peak season, many restaurants have turned to technology to improve the process. As one HR spokesperson from Chili’s says:

    “We like to give our managers as many tools as we possibly can to make sure we’re hiring the right folks who create the right experience for our guests.”

    Which makes sense—because determining quality of talent shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of the hiring manager. Using technology, restaurants can transform hiring into something that’s scalable and objective.

    Why head into summer any other way? Just as you portion for food prep, you’ll become much more efficient and keep costs down when you use tools to target the top 10 traits of a quality restaurant hire.

  7. Ready, Set, Hire! Memorial Day is Around the Corner

    It seems we’ve just recovered from the holiday season, and now it’s time to gear up for the summer. How did that happen? Time moves quickly and so should you when it comes to staffing up for one of the busiest times of the year—summer vacation!

    As soon as the kids start singing “School’s Out!” you’ll have hordes of hungry road trippers, travelers, and festival-goers at your doorstep. Summer brings more hours of daylight, and for many restaurants, more hours of business. Are you ready?

    U.S. restaurants expect to hire about 500,000 seasonal employees in an average summer, many of them high school and college students, according the National Restaurant Association. So it’s no surprise that competition can get pretty fierce. The sooner you get your summer hires squared away, the more prepared you’ll be for peak season.

    Here are six hiring tips to set you up for success this summer:

    1. Get social. There’s a big talent pool out there, and you don’t have to wait for walk-ins. If your summer staff is made up of high school and college students, go where they are—social media! And if you don’t already offer online applications, it’s time for an upgrade.
    2. Promote your brand. Summer job seekers are starting to weight their options. What makes working at your restaurant better than working next door? Amp up your job description and market your company as a fun place to work.
    3. Add assessments. Although the work may be temporary, staff quality still matters. Guests won’t forget a bad experience, and in peak season, the pressure’s on. Make sure to hire people who fit your culture and have a special knack for food service.
    4. Tailor your interview questions. Think about the daily tasks and skills needed for the job, then create a list of interview questions that specifically address those tasks. For example, if you’re hiring a restaurant manager, ask them to tell you about a time when the kitchen got backed up and guests were getting frustrated. How did they handle the problem?
    5. Don’t get sloppy. Follow your process. While it may be tempting to skip a reference check when you have a lot of positions to fill, fight the urge. It’s better to hire right the first time than to fire mid-season (or worse—mid-shift!)
    6. Repeat what works. Reach out to last year’s shining stars. Do they want to spend another summer with you? And, while you’re at it, ask them if they have friends who are interested too.

    Hungry to hire this summer? Don’t sweat it.

  8. Servers With a Side of Management? Yes, Please.   

    When Kristen Fehrenbach started working as a server at Peli Peli, a South African fusion restaurant in Houston, Texas fewer than three years ago, little did she know that one day she’d be working as the interim CEO.

    Much like the military, working in a restaurant provides the opportunity to work your way through the ranks, and that’s just what Fehrenbach did. Hiring from within is part of the company’s business strategy. Why? It helps them maintain their company culture, and that reflects in the service that guests receive. Employees really learn the business from the bottom up. In fact, all Peli Peli managers have been servers at some point.

    So, if you already hire from within, or you want to make it part of your business strategy, what should you be looking for at the entry level?

    Servers With a Side of Management

    When you think about, everyone in the restaurant industry, regardless of their level, should have the “hospitality gene,” or a natural skill for food service. That means every time you hire someone, whether a it’s server or a manager, you should look for qualities like:

    According to the Integrity Training Institute, many restaurant managers hire for skills, but fire for character. As a result, they came up with some interview questions that address more soft skills than hard ones. Here are some examples:

    • “How did you fill downtime at your last job?” This question can give you insight into how proactive the person is and whether they’ll be a good team player. Did they ask their co-workers if they needed help, or did they go outside and have cigarette?
    • “How do you handle situations that could cause you to be tardy or absent?” This question can give you a sense of the candidate’s time management skills and their ability to multi-task and plan ahead.
    • “What about your character makes you a good candidate for this job?” This might tell you if the potential hire is a “people person” and a good fit for a customer-focused role.

    Whether you’re hiring a new server or grooming your next GM, competency-based restaurant assessments can help you to hire someone who is ready to deliver, in more ways than one.