What is in this article?:
- How to recruit, train and retain top restaurant employees
- Incentives help employees, restaurants succeed
This is part of Restaurant Hospitality's special coverage of the 2013 Food & Wine Classic held in Aspen, Colo., June 14-16. Follow all of our coverage >>
Incentives help employees, restaurants succeed
Selfridge: We have more than 35,000 employees and we found six years ago that 20 percent of our managers were coming from within. That means 80 percent of them we were hiring from the outside. So we created what we call a crew ladder, where anyone in the company could rise up from a crew level to become a general manager. Now, 97 percent of our general managers come from within the company.
We believe that no experience is often the best when hiring someone. You can teach someone to roll a burrito, but there are 13 characteristics that you can't teach, like friendliness and a willingness to serve others. People with these characteristics are the ones we want to hire.
Bayless: We like to think of our company as an innovative machine. We want our people to take risks because we don't want them to become stagnant. The risk-taking often leads to tremendous success, but sometime not. But a failure can be changed tomorrow, so it's worth taking chances.
It's also important to give your employees incentive. In our restaurants, they're slower in the winter than the summer. During the summer months when things get busy, they share in the extra revenue.
Meyer: There's always been two camps: those who believe in pure capitalism and those who say it's not about making money, but rather about doing what's right. But over the years there's been a convergence where you use capitalism as a model, but run the company in a way where your people believe in what you're doing and reward them. For example, at Shake Shack, we give our staff 1 percent of sales each day. A happier staff leads to happier guests and more profit.
Selfridge: Once people rise through the ranks of our company and reach the top in their unit, they share in the profits of the store and can make even more mentoring other new stores. We open 160-180 new stores a year.
Meyer: A key is to use your people to make things better. For example, we were not happy with our coffee program in our restaurants. So we created a barista Olympics, where the top barista from each restaurant competed against each other. This friendly competition led to better coffee in our restaurants. Now we're using that same model to target other areas of the company that need improving.