Hiring new team members has been a huge challenge for restaurants coming out of the pandemic. It’s something many owners and mangers have complained about. There was even a whole panel discussion on it last year at the Pizza Expo. I too have felt the stress of not being able to find great people to join my team at Hot Tongue.
So I started thinking about what things were like before the pandemic—you know what? people were hard to find back then too. This isn’t a completely new challenge, there’s just a new target on which to place blame.
When I was 18 working at a grocery store that was struggling to find staff members I remember people saying shit like, “I guess no one wants to work anymore”. That was 2003. 20 years ago.
Here is something that took me years to understand: It’s always worth the wait for the right person for the job to come along.
Even if you are dying to fill a position, even if you needed the help two weeks ago, even if you are personally filling in just to keep the ship from sinking, wait for the right person, don’t hire the easy option.
I’ve made the mistake of hiring a friend, someone else’s friend, someone who seemed “good enough”, or even a person with red flags flying around their head that were “overlooked”. This leads to people calling me from jail, the hospital, or just not showing up. It has lead to people stealing, lying, harassing or getting into fights with other members of the team, vandalism, cuts, burns, tears and bruises… It’s easy to be blinded when you’re under the gun.
The golden rule according to my interpretation goes like this: as long as you aren’t a piece of shit people are going to want to work for you. So make sure you got that going for you.
The right people always come along, maybe not exactly when you need them, but they will always show up, especially for pizza shops.
The coolest people work at pizza shops. I am obviously biased, but I am telling you the easy hire is also the really tough fire 6 months later. When you create opportunity and treat your people with love and respect, the need to find someone new presents itself less and less.