It’s no secret that smaller restaurants and franchises have a hard time competing for talent against large chains. The big guys have more resources and can often offer a higher salary and better benefits. But that doesn’t mean they have all the advantages. In fact, smaller franchises have a secret weapon when it comes to talent acquisition: a good reputation.
My company, StartMonday, conducted a survey of 750 hospitality and retail employees and found that these job seekers are more inclined to apply at a company with a good reputation than at one that offers above average compensation.
In short, job seekers in these industries care about a lot more than a paycheck. Landing top talent comes down to understanding what matters most to them.
Add a personalized touch
As a small company, it’s easier to stand out as a workplace with heart. Big corporations have a reputation for being cold and unrelatable. When job seekers apply to work for these companies, it’s not uncommon for them to spend half of the hiring process interacting with an automated hiring system instead of a human.
You can do better.
Our survey found that 33 percent of job seekers want to receive a personalized phone call to learn about the next steps of the hiring process. Take the time reach out and have an actual conversation. Thank them for their interest in your company and let them know why you’d like to get to know them better.
While this phone call shouldn’t be approached like a job interview, let them know what stood out about their application and resume. Ask them if they have any questions and let them know when they can expect to hear from you next. In just a five-minute conversation, you can begin to build a relationship that gets job seekers invested in your franchise.
Find out what would make them happy
At large companies, employees often feel like cogs in a machine. They’re disengaged and unfulfilled. In fact, our survey found that 45 percent of candidates would drop out of a hiring process if they found out that current employees were unhappy.
As a smaller company, you have the ability to create a more personalized employee experience.
During the hiring process, don’t just focus on whether or not a person can do the job. Find out if the position would make them happy. Ask candidates what they love the most about their previous jobs. Then let them know what aspect of the open job would be similar.
Additionally, try find a way to make the work meaningful for them. For example, if the candidate is involved with a local charity, offer to create a night to raise money for it. This provides an opportunity for them to give back through work.
Introduce the family
It’s very rare for employees of a large franchise to know everyone, especially the owners. All the anonymity keeps them from forming a deep attachment to the company. In a smaller franchise, however, everyone knows each other.
Start making these introductions during the hiring process. Most candidates want to meet key franchise personal before taking a job anyway. Eighty-three percent of our survey respondents said they wanted to talk to their potential managers before being hired. Forty-three and 26 percent said they wanted to meet co-workers and owners, respectively.
Once you’re getting serious about hiring a candidate, organize a meet-and-greet with a few team members. Make sure the setting is casual so the candidate doesn’t feel intimidated. Also, have the event match the setting of your restaurant. For example, if it’s a franchise of sports bars, invite the candidate to join you and some others to watch a game over some wings.
Offer customized career paths
Larger franchises often have established training and career paths to offer their employees. These can be a big draw for talent in the restaurant industry. In fact, 41 percent of our respondents said professional development is an important factor when choosing a job.
But often, these career paths are rigid. Employees have to mold themselves to what the organization offers, rather than freely pursue all their goals and dreams.
You can provide a more custom path. During the hiring process, find out where the candidate sees their career in a year and in five years. Discuss what types of skills they’d like to learn and how they can get that experience through your company.
Think outside the box. For example, a waiter might tell you he’s always been interested in advertising and marketing. So, ask if he’d like to help out with that aspect of the company. Once a week, he could help manage the social media page or learn about how the restaurant handles email marketing. This will provide him with knowledge he would never have received at a larger franchise.
Ray Gibson is the co-founder and CEO of StartMonday, an innovative recruiting platform for hospitality and retail designed for mobile generation candidates and time-strapped recruiters.