Let’s start by apologizing up front to those very few, very awesome, restaurant professionals out there that understand the need for staying up to speed on the many requirements of the personnel world. Appreciate them because they are the vast exception, not the rule.
For so many restaurant owners, the reasonable priority in hiring someone to run the day-to-day aspects of your business would be to have a solid understanding of how to keep an eatery successful. This is completely rational and will always yield the results intended, because that is precisely the kind of manager you should seek. However, we cannot nor should not expect people growing in their food-service career to know everything about everything. Often times, due to a lack of core knowledge of the responsibilities, restaurant owners neglect to hire a member of their staff with a Human Resources background because these professionals are most often associated with office-based companies. Allow me to be the first to tell you that this misconception is opening you up to untold risks that most restaurateurs never think of before they are forced to deal with the ramifications.
Running a local restaurant takes a core team of professionals, possessing that entrepreneur mentality where they know each customer that walks through the door is the key to more coming in. This ideology has to be coupled with making quick shifts and setting new courses as needs change, often times having to quickly hire people from other establishments to ensure a good knowledge base but often at the expense of a concerted and professional recruiting effort. Many eateries die on the vine because they hire the wrong people that aren’t a fit, merely trying to make sure that ends are met, which results in them becoming a statistic of poor reviews based on service eventually affecting the bottom line and forcing closure. This is not even going into detail the number risks involved when unlawful hiring practices made by untrained interviewers are brought to light or litigated.
You would shudder at the number of clients I have spoken with that were never even able to create an Employee Handbook before they opened their doors and started hiring staff at breakneck speed to keep up with things. Core policies were never created, and when they got around to disciplining employees, they were opening themselves up to a multitude of labor violations.
A core knowledge of HR is key, and unless you personally have it, you need to find someone that does.
Real Talk. Most restaurants have little to no need for a full-time HR professional on their staff. They need to be in the business of focusing on customer experience and in the often-insane world of a busy restaurant there just isn’t a place or budget for someone to sit around for 40 hours each week and wait for an issue to manifest. It’s just not a thing most restaurants can afford to do, especially the smaller ones.
Enter the Consultant*.
By keeping a consultant on retainer, you are able to utilize that professional knowledge you need to navigate the pitfalls of employment relations when the need is looking to arise. A professional that can work alongside your interviewer to make sure that all questions are legal and also to help the regular member of your staff grow their abilities by being able to ask questions of a person to ensure the best possible hires. You are able to create the policies and expectations of your employees before they ever work their first shift, so that you can start to identify issues before they become a real problem instead of over-explaining why someone isn’t meeting expectations. You can create an environment where a consultant, that is not running around like a headless chicken, can look at employee grievances and talk them out with the management team in a clearly constructive way. Consultants bring the professional acumen needed to audit your hiring practices to protect you from a federal audit that is seeking undocumented workers in your kitchen after an unfounded complaint. A knowledgeable professional can be available to be contacted by an employee is having an issue, instead of letting things grow and fester until the employee walks out in the middle of a dinner rush.
All of the perks, with none of the headaches of having HR underfoot while you are trying to get amazing food to hungry customers. You cannot be expected as a restaurant owner to know everything, and you can’t expect that out of your GMs, so find the solution that is best for everyone with the least cost to you. Give a look at the services on this page, and see if they would line up with your needs.
Categorize this under “Food for Thought”, no pun intended.
*-If you are a restaurant owner that would like to know more, please feel free to schedule a free 30 minute consultation to see how my services can alleviate your issues. Conversely, I will be offering a seminar for Restaurant Managers later this year, if you need to send multiple employees to be trained.