How do restaurants recruit? How do they keep the employee pool interested, active, happy, motivated and productive? What's the secret? What's your secret? Is it 70% networking or 10% networking? Is BOH turnover ratios higher or lower than FOH? Is fast food turnover ratios higher or lower than casual or fine dining? What about casinos? Hotels? Resorts?

I have often wondered why food servers or bartenders (FOH staff in particular) choose a particular restaurant to work. Is it based on convenience or selection? Is it geography? Are tips the only motivator or is the type of concept more the driver? Is it the employee group or shift availability? Or, are casual servers and bartenders always targeting other casual restaurants to work?
For sure, fine dining food servers tend not to head for Chili's. But, interestingly, Chili's-type food servers don't necessarily head for Spago's either. FOH employees tend to stick with a sector. But, having said this, why do some employees prefer working at Airport casual restaurant locations versus urban or suburban locations? Is there a survey that answers these qualitative personnel drivers?

I wonder what an operator will need to do in 2008 to attract, qualify, train, engage, and retain good help? Is it different now than it was 10 even 5 years ago? How much do all restaurant employees rely on networking to find a job? Do they prefer web sites like or

Recently Secondlife is making a difference. McDonald's Corp is airing commercials to attract employees on YouTube. And, Sodexho USA is using Secondlife to interview potential applicants online. Applicatants created computer images, or avatas of themselves and interacted using instant messaging.

Or, is the rule still just walking in between 3-5 PM and fill out an application? What do you think? What do you do?

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Comment by RawDaddy on December 25, 2007 at 1:17am
All very good points. You're right as far as the older the personal, and the finer the dining, I'm sure it's much easier for them to think of their work as a career, as opposed to a layover.
Comment by Phillip on December 24, 2007 at 2:19pm
Do you think that perception has a lot to do with the sector of the restaurant industry that people are working in? I've worked with a service staff who were all at least thirty years old and were in it for life. They also made huge amounts of money it being a fine dining French restaurant with 2-300 covers a night. If you are working in a casual restaurant is it more likely that you will perceive it as a temporary thing or is it different restaurants inspire differing types of loyalty?
Comment by RawDaddy on December 24, 2007 at 8:36am
Michael, all good questions. But doesn't it seem that the restaurant business in general, could it be considered a nomadic business. Even if the employee stays in the restaurant business, it seems that they are constantly changing restaurants. I feel sometime that people think that restaurant jobs are temporary, something you do while going to school. Especially in the FoH. Not say that having that additude is correct. It just seems that a lot of peoples perception of restaurant work is something they'll do, until they grow up and get a better job. I believe it's a perception issue more then anything.
Comment by Phillip on December 23, 2007 at 7:45pm
The last kitchen I worked in relied almost entirely on networking amongst fellow cooks. When you are in such a close-knit and strenuous environment nobody wants to bring in someone who is a friend but not qualified and have to rely on them. Also you are associated with them and if they are not up to the job, you are looked at in a poor manner. Working in a tiny kitchen we just had few staff and long hours. FOH however had/has a huge turnover because of desperate hiring practices and unqualified/young servers for fine dining French service.
Comment by Surfer Girl on December 15, 2007 at 11:55am
I always tell my friends when there is an opening. If the restaurant or club is a cool place to work and busy, and the managers are not control freals, staffing up is not a problem. The best places to work never have a problem finding good people.
Comment by Erick F. Crawford on December 4, 2007 at 6:43pm
When seeking new employees, the first thing I do is remind the staff that we have a bounty for all new hires whom they have recommended. The company for which I work has a standing bounty and we bring this up at each shift meeting. Additionally, I go directly to the people that I believe are the top performers and have the attributes that the company seeks to hire.

I have found that by posting on,, the local paper and so on brings in all types of people and only wastes my time and the rest of the management team. Last year, we even utilized job boards on nearby campuses to no avail.

Recently I have gone poaching for hosts at nearby restaurants. We are looking at a host shortage going into the Christmas season and are desperate for new hires.

A good option is to build a semi-reliable return employee system. Each summer this restaurant needs to build its Server staff up to over one hundred employees just to survive the madness. Over the years we have hired a lot of Irish and Eastern Block kids here on a work exchange program. Each year we have about half of them come back for reemployment. The holiday season is similar. Kids coming home from school for the holidays and need employment for a month or two so they are hired and again, about half come back each year.

The key is to define exactly what attributes the company would like to present to their stakeholders and seek that candidate without wavering from those standards. Then build up the company’s reputation as a quality place to work to attract and retain the best of the best.

Doing these things can build a steady flow of potential candidates to draw upon when the hiring season is not at its peak.




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