Zoup Eatery, Bonchon and Asian Box Executives Discuss Hiring and Retention Best Practices | 2022 Restaurant Franchise and Innovation Summit


Hiring and retention remains a critical issue plaguing the restaurant industry today. A panel of experts from the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit discussed how the pandemic has affected their brands and shared tips for hiring and retention.

Having potential employees knocking on a brand’s door to work for them is a thing of the past. Labor shortages affect nearly every brand, causing companies to rethink hiring, onboarding and retention processes.

Four panelists discussed these challenges during a panel discussion titled “Simplify your hiring process to reduce attrition rates” to Restaurant Franchise and Innovation Summit in Nashville, Tennessee this month. The event, hosted by Networld Media Group, attracts top brand executives to share effective ways to grow franchises. Networld Media Group is the parent company of Fast casual, pizza market and QSRweb. The media company’s next event is a virtual conference on pizza, Virtual Pizza Leadership Summitwhich will take place on July 27.

Panelists included Steve Felson, Vice President of Operations for Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken, Chuck Imerson, President and CEO of Asian Box, and Zoup! Restaurant president Jason Valentine. The panel was sponsored by FSSolutions and moderated by Brandon Bulcroft, background check expert and head of results-driven operations at FSSolutions.

Pandemic effects

Bulcroft asked the panel how the pandemic hit their marks and what they did to pivot when staffing tightened.

“The first thing was to throw 30 years of restaurant experience out the window,” Felson said. His company first asked current employees what their needs and wants were. “You had to care for them like you never cared for them before.”

Second, he said, hiring norms have changed, including taking risks that brands might not have taken before.

Imerson said it was a balancing act of seeing revenue decline and not needing as many people, while getting nervous that the company wouldn’t be able to recoup those. employees. They tried to balance the hours and take care of the employees too.

Hire the right employees

As Asian Box emerged from the pandemic, the brand learned to streamline the hiring process. At first, she had to close some sites and didn’t know if she would see any employees again. Keeping an open line of communication was imperative to rehiring valuable employees. “When it was time to come back, they were still there,” Imerson said.

Towards the end of COVID, like Zoup! Eatery got busier, he had failed ideas for hiring. Six to eight months ago, the brand took a step back and had to look at the heart of the problem. As a franchise group, he looked closely at store-level leadership and whether franchisees were still passionate about the brand.

“It’s a tough conversation to have,” Valentine said, “but all labor issues in restaurants, there are ways to solve them and processes to support. We started to to get to the heart of the restaurant chef’s problem. It was a huge initiative.”

In the past, restaurants were looking for “techies” – people willing to run restaurants. Now the “advisor/coach” aspect is much more important, Felson said.

It’s critical to have managers involved in the hiring process, especially during the first 24 to 48 hours after an employee’s start date, he said. Once they’re hired, it can be difficult to get them to clock in that first day, as only 30-40% show up to start their first shift.

Choosing the right franchisees is also key to hiring and retaining the right staff. “Would I like to work for you? Valentine asked. “Would I like my son to work for you?”

Retain staff

Keeping personnel already on board has become paramount to the smooth running of operations during the pandemic, the panel said.

“I think you have to realize that you’re lucky to have these people working for us,” Felson said.

Offering employees swag to boost morale is one way to appease current team members. Talking to employees about more than recipes, procedures and operations every day is another strategy, Felson said.

Valentine said flexibility is a tool that can help retain staff.

“Give them a reason to be proud,” he said.

Registration is now open for the Fast Casual Executive Summit to be held October 9-11 in Indianapolis. Click on here record.


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