Reducing Turnover and Maximizing Profit: A Guide to Navigating the State of the Restaurant Industry in 2023

State of the restaurant industry in 2023

Main issues for restauranteurs: how to reduce turnover and make more profit from your business

From compliance with regulations to financing to maintaining profit margins, it’s tough out there for new restaurant owners. One of the key restaurant benchmarks that owners struggle with is staffing, AKA turnover. Recruiting, training, and retaining quality employees is notoriously difficult in the food service industry, so it’s critical to have a great hiring strategy.

How to recruit restaurant staff

Recruitment isn’t as simple as it may seem. Especially in today’s job market where finding and retaining restaurant employees is harder than ever, with turnover rates over 140%. Finding and keeping quality applicants necessitates rethinking the ways we approach the hiring process

Create a good job description

Include everything a potential employee wants to know, including:

  • Position title (server, cashier, line cook, etc.)
  • Pay & benefits
  • Hours
  • Job duties
  • Time-off
  • Vacation policy

That’s right. People want careers, not jobs. If you want your restaurant positions to be taken seriously, you need to put your money where your mouth is. Competitive pay. Benefits. Time off. Most importantly: Growth opportunities.

Tony Smith, CEO of Restaurant365, says “Retention starts by changing the narrative about restaurant jobs.” That begins with the job description.

With an attractive and accurate job description, you’ll be able to bring in the applicants you’re looking for and set clear expectations for the position. This will help ensure the employees you screen and hire are a good fit for the position and raise the likelihood of them sticking around.

Use technology to help with the selection of candidates

The current vernacular is Applicant Tracking System, or ATS. This type of software allows restaurant managers and franchise owners to easily manage all aspects of the hiring process.

Another way to use technology for staffing is to find out how much staff you need to have at your store. Get a good sense of how much staff you need for a particular location at any given time by taking a look at your sales data. Using an advanced Point of Sale or POS system with integrated analytics is a great tool for this.  These types of software, such as the one provided by Mosaic Solutions, can collect sales data from each of your locations and create reports that break down sales per hour or per branch. That way, you’ll know where and when you need the most manpower.

How to train your restaurant staff

Once you’ve made the rounds and hired some new staff, your job isn’t over yet. You’ve got to give your employees the tools and motivation to succeed in their new positions with hassle-free onboarding, continued learning and support, and reward systems.

Provide a great onboarding experience

Nobody wants to spend their first day filling out paperwork or going through employee manuals. Luckily, there is already software available that can take the hassle away.

An example of this solution is HigherMe which has a paperless onboarding system tailored to the restaurant industry that allows you and your new employee to speed through the initial onboarding process, get everything signed and squared away so they’re ready to go for their first day.

Onboarding doesn’t end at the first shift, either. Schedule periodic check-ins to assess how your new hire is doing. Allow plenty of opportunities to ask questions or raise concerns. Engage their learning with quizzes on menu items or restaurant policies.

If some of your more experienced staff are friendly and have the bandwidth for it, consider instituting a mentor system. Pair up your new hire with an experienced employee so they can learn the ropes on the floor.

Invest in your employees

Create a roadmap for promotions and advancement, including skill development along the way. If your positions are stagnant, prospective applicants and new hires are going to view them merely as stepping stones.

If the goal is reducing turnover, employees need to feel like the time they spend working will pay off in terms of career advancement and lifelong learning. As your employee masters their position, add more and more new responsibilities to their duties that culminate in a promotion with a pay-raise. This, in combination with periodic performance-based raises, will make your employee feel appreciated.

Think of it as an investment in your future. If your managers, sous chefs, and shift leaders are trained from within, there will be more synchronicity across the board and restaurant operations will run smoothly. You’ll be able to rest knowing your restaurant is in good hands.

Create an incentive program

Reward your employees for the behavior that you like to see. I don’t mean an employee-of-the-month sticker or a pat on the back (though there is a place for those things), I’m talking about gift cards or cash rewards for meeting various metrics like “6 months worked” or “stellar attendance” or “1000 tables served.”

With a prize to look forward to, employees will be motivated to show up and do their jobs to hit the reward intervals, which is the name of the game when it comes to retention.

Expect mistakes and don’t forget to provide positive feedback

Expecting perfection on your new hire’s first shift is a recipe for disaster. Manage your expectations – your employees will make mistakes days, weeks, months, even years into their job. Humans are imperfect beings.

Don’t yell at your employees or punish them for dropping a dish or putting in an order wrong. Use mistakes as learning opportunities and guide your employees on how to move forward.

Don’t forget to call out good behavior, too! When your new hire gets something down pat, does an important task without prompting, or gets a glowing review from customers, pull them aside and thank them personally. They’ll feel appreciated and be more motivated to continue doing an excellent job.

Key takeaway: It’s all about the employees

Employees are the bread and butter of restaurants. Without them, a restaurant will be unable to function. With quality employees that last, managers will have more time to perform their other duties, customers will have great experiences, and the restaurant itself will be in good hands in the years to come. Investing in your employees – using all the tools at your disposal to find them, provide them with a great onboarding experience, and continually recognize and reward them – is one of the best things you can do for your restaurant.

One last tip – get a good sense of how much staff you need for a particular location at any given time by taking a look at your sales data. Using a Point of Sale or POS system is a great tool for this sort of analysis.  These type of software, such as the one provided by Mosaic Solutions, can collect sales data from each of your locations and create reports that breakdown sales per hour or per branch. That way, you’ll know where and when you need the most manpower.