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5 Key Traits To Look For When Hiring Restaurants Employees You Can Depend On


Staffing is a common problem in the restaurant and food business world. From high turnover to abysmal treatment of employees to shotty work ethic.

It could be a big mess. And it costs restaurant owners a lot of money and time each year.

Today, we’re going to be talking about what characteristics to look for so you can hire staff that you can depend on, has common sense, and actually wants to be there.

More importantly, how to hire an all-star team, a team of employees who can run your business while you’re away taking care of your family, traveling with your spouse, and working ON the business rather than IN it. That way – you can actually do the things that will expand your restaurant, rather than micro-managing the staff.

I was able to do this with my ice cream shop by hiring the right staff and having the right partners. I would be barely in the shop and could focus my time on actually growing the business – which I did to 6 stores and even brought it internationally.

We’re going to dive right into how you could too.

What Your Characteristics of All-Star Team Player?

Let’s be clear: All-star talent is not a skillset.

It comes down to how their values are aligned with your values.

If you haven’t determined your own values, something that you believe in, something that sets as a parameter of how you function as a human being and how you function as your business, then no one else can have that clarity and you can’t match your shop with talent.

It’s super important for you to define your values because it gives you clarity.

It gives your customers clarity.

It gives your staff clarity in terms of how you operate and the mission you set out to accomplish.

If this is aligned, then it’s a match.

And when it’s a match, that’s when you can have people who truly care and truly are able to bring value to you.

It’s just like matching with a significant other. If the values match, you guys are compatible, and you guys can find things to talk about all night long. It’s the same thing with finding staff that matches your business.

First define your own values and how you operate your business. Define your mission. What are you trying to achieve? And then you can create the characteristics that can be the hiring factors to gauge applicants on.

It becomes the foundation of your all-star player.

We’re going to be talking about the top five characteristics that I believe you should be looking for in your all-star restaurant employee.

Top 5 Characteristics Of Restaurant An All-Star Staff

1.) Collaborative

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This person that you’re hiring must be collaborative because, in an environment where you’re serving others and has a massive team component, you need them to be able to work well with other people.

If they’re a lone wolf, it’s very difficult for them to actually match and be able to support your other teammates in a fast-paced industry like food and beverage. Because they prefer to work alone, they may get frustrated with others who aren’t up to their pace or have the same process. This may cause strain as they try to do things out of their responsibilities.

Being collaborative and actually wanting to support others is crucial to the success of your business. It is why this is the number one characteristic that I always look out for during the hiring process.

2.) High Integrity

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The second characteristic that you need to look out for in your all-star player is integrity.

What does integrity mean?

To me – integrity means being able to walk the talk.

Everyone can talk the talk. To just spew ideas or opinions. But very few actually puts action to what they say.

If you say that you’re going to be on time, you better be on time. If you say that you’re going to own up to a mistake, then you better own up to a mistake. If you say you’re going to send me an email, then you better send me that email.

When we are running a restaurant or food business, we typically don’t have time to babysit our staff. Your managers have a lot on their plate as well. No one has the time to. So we need to make sure that our staff is able to be accountable for what they say and be self-sufficient.

When you want to be able to have a business that you can walk away from, integrity is important because that’s how you can gain the trust in your team to be able to take care of the shop. You’ll have the confidence that they will do the right thing while you’re not there.

I’m never at my ice cream shop. Usually, we’re running with one or two people. If they don’t have high integrity, that doing the right thing when no one is there, then it’s very difficult for me to be able to manage multiple locations.

That being said, there are ways I can make sure I get this reassurance.

I know they’re doing the right thing because I’m getting feedback from secret shoppers. We also have cameras in place and we have a lot of strong communication with them, which is the reason why there are so many times that they are proving themselves that they have high integrity.

Just because they have high integrity, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do your job, which is constantly check up on them and make sure that everything is in place for them to do their job.

3.) Communicativeness

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The third type of characteristics that you should look out for in an all-star player is communicativeness.

I think communication is super underrated when it comes to business. A lot of mistakes or frustrations tend to come from the LACK of communication. Our mind has a funny way of filling in things if there’s a gap of information – usually it fills it with anxiety or improper feelings. So if you communicate properly, there is no for that problem to arise.

So when I talk about communicativeness as a characteristic, I mean having the willingness and the initiative to be in constant communication, with you, with the suppliers, or with the customers. Proper communication helps set the expectation for the other person.

That could be as simple as alerting you that they’ll be running five minutes late because their bus is late or got into an accident. That itself allows you to prepare because they communicated with you versus someone who doesn’t communicate.

To many people, this may seem like a small thing. Like oh boo hoo they didn’t tell you they are late.

But it’s the gesture that matters.

When someone thinks that being late for five minutes and doesn’t let you know is okay, it doesn’t respect your time and business. You have plans for them because you’re expecting them to show up, yet there is no communication.

Another reason why communication is so important in the food and beverage industry is that a lot of times when customers come in, they’re expecting a certain experience. And if there’s anything that does not go along with that experience, they need to be notified.

For example, if your meals typically take 15 minutes to whip up and your server fails to let a customer know that, “Hey, this item that you’re ordering is a baked item, which takes around 30 minutes,” then your customer would be upset at the restaurant, not necessarily at the waiter because they think that, “Why is service so slow? Why is it taking 30 minutes? My friends already finished their food. Why am I still not having my food?”.

This experience itself could mean a 1 star rating on a review site, negative word of mouth of your restaurant and more. All because of a lack of communication.

Lack of communication does not allow the expectation to be set, met, or adjusted.

So when you’re looking for onboarding an all-star team, an all-star player, always, always look for this key trait which is communicative, okay?

And that’s the reason why I’m always in communication with my team all the time. It doesn’t matter where they are. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. I’m always asking them what’s going on. They’re always updating me whether they’re late, whether they’re staying behind for another half an hour, or whether there are any incidents that are happening.

So then that way, I have the expectation of what to set.

4.) Positive Can-Do Attitude

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Would you want to work with someone who is always a Karen or Debbie Downer, who’s always telling you that they can’t do this, or there’s a problem with this or that, and asking for instructions all the time?

Or would you prefer to work with someone who is always having an uplifting spirit, always willing to take on a challenge, always having a positive can-do attitude, that even if they don’t know how to solve the problem, they have the attitude of, “Hey, you know what? I’ll take on this challenge. I’ll be positive, and I’ll figure out a solution for solving this problem”?

Always, always choose for people who have a positive can-do attitude because not only are they able to provide much more for you in terms of value, but then they’re also able to solve problems in a much more creative way.

And they’re always going to be able to influence other people on your team. When you’re working in a team environment, everyone’s energy will be able to transfer around each other. If you have everyone in sync with a positive can-do attitude, things get done quicker. It’s like everyone rowing in unison on a canoe!

But if this guy is a Debbie Downer, and this guy’s a positive can-do attitude, then they’re out of sync. And when that’s out of sync, your canoe cannot propel as quickly as you can.

It also bleeds into the customer service when people come into your stores. You don’t want your customers to be served by someone who is always negative. It’s very unlikely they’ll be able to provide the kind of stellar service that will create long-term customers that will rave about you online and to their friends. It may very well be the opposite comes true.

5.) Authenticity

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The fifth and final characteristic to look for in your all-star team is authenticity.

People who are faking their values or behaviour just to get the job, do not go far. Because when you’re not there or when you’re not looking, their true self comes out.

If you don’t suss this out from the beginning, it could be a big waste of time and resources for your restaurant.

When you’re interviewing applicants, make sure you ask enough questions to be able to see whether they’re being authentic and whether the answers that they give you are in alignment.

Are they giving you answers just to make sure that you hire them?

If they’re answering your questions and if they’re providing you with an impression of not being able to fit into your community and your culture, but yet it’s not really who they are, this one bad apple will poison the rest of your staff.

And a lot of times, you’re going to be able to see through that by looking at their resume and their social media persona.

Do your research when it comes to hiring and understanding how this person is. It may mean bringing them out for a cup of coffee and chat with them about their personal life. That itself would allow you to see much more about what this person is like aside from being in an interview session. In the tech startup world, they call these culture fit interviews.

Occasionally when we did hiring at the ice cream shop, I would grab coffee with several prospects to make sure that I understand who they truly are and loosen them up, and so their true self would start showing. And when you see them interacting with the barista, you’re going to be able to see whether they have integrity or not, whether they are a positive person or not. This itself is super important when it comes to looking out for an all-star team.

So there you are: the top five characteristics that I look for in an all-star restaurant staff.

A lot of times, what really makes someone an all-star is when their values match with yours because that’s when they can truly care for your business, which allows you the freedom to be able to not work in your business but work on your business.

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