Franchise Success Call

Winning Strategies for Staffing and Talent Acquisition

culture people planning Apr 09, 2024
Talent Acquisition Strategies

There’s a challenge that every franchise business owner is facing: staffing. To give you some clues to navigate this complex environment, in our latest Franchise Supporters playlist on YouTube we invited Tom Spry, an expert in staffing, to learn what is happening in the industry and discover techniques to help you fulfill your staffing levels and build an amazing team that will let you achieve your financial and business goals.

But first, subscribe to our YouTube channel and our podcast, and follow us on all social platforms!


Who is Tom Spry?

Tom is the founder and CEO of Tom Spry Executive Search and an executive recruiter for the restaurant and hospitality industries, successfully securing diverse candidates for many brands. He thoroughly understands these sector’s need for the talent required to win in the new digital marketplace. He also held operations roles across early-stage, mid-market, and multinational organizations where he acquired his in-depth expertise.


The staffing issue

As a starting point, Tom shared his perspective on what's happening with the staffing in the retail, restaurant, and franchise environment, and what he foresees for the near future.

First, he explained how during Covid, the hourly employees realized that, aside from traditional organizations like restaurants, they could find other avenues for income. For example, in-home caregiving requires similar people-focused skills as hospitality but implies a less labor-intensive activity. 

That means that nowadays, restaurants compete for the same type of employee not only with brands in their industry but also against other industries such as health. “I truly see this as a major impact on the current hiring situation”, he explained. 

“There's still not enough employees out there, and restaurant people are stretched to the limit, to the point where mental health is becoming a potential issue not just to attract new employees, but to keep them trained, happy, and motivated. Those are big issues.”

Basically, everybody has the same problem because all the sectors require people to function and the hourly employee now has more opportunities in terms of where they can work, whereas before, it used to be more restricted.


How to deal with the staffing crisis?

Despite the situation, some business leaders are winning the battle of attracting, hiring, and retaining great people for their organizations. Here are some strategies Tom shared during our interview:


1. It's the little things that count

“One of the things that I love most about an organization is that there's a huge understanding that their staff is number one. Not the customer but the staff”, Tom said.

People are used to saying “Customers are number one”. And even though it’s true that customers and revenue are the oxygen of any business, if you don't have the employees, you cannot have sales, revenue, and customer experience. So if your employees come first and you take care of them, they will take care of your customers, which will bring revenue.

Franchisees already have a winning product and a proven business model, so they need to be able to attract employees with a reward. But that doesn’t refer only to an attractive salary or hourly rate, he warned. The employees should have a path to learn, develop, and grow as part of the benefits you offer.


2. Social proof

Although business owners don’t tend to invest time or effort in social media, because they are too busy running their businesses, they must realize that this is the principal attractor for potential employees today.

But it’s not only about posting your job opportunities. You need to take care of your social brand awareness because candidates will want to know who are you, if you offer a positive work environment, and what your employees say and share about working for you.

Taking care and nurturing your employer branding and managing your reputation in the social media world is critical. Even if you don't have an official online presence, there’s a big chance that somebody has posted a comment mentioning your business, and people have shared this.

Don’t miss: What is your Employer Brand and How to Improve It

There are also several websites and social media platforms where people provide feedback on businesses and the experiences they have as employees. Glassdoor is one of them. So, you need to make sure you manage your online reputation as well as your employer brand not only from a sales and customer experience perspective but also in terms of employee attraction and retention.


3. Discover what truly motivates your employees

“I recall a French former franchisee who was very passionate about getting health benefits for employees. She did all the research, got several proposals, and sold them to her business partners. Once she presented the benefits to her employees, only three signed up. Only then did she come to notice no one had asked them what they wanted”, Tom shared.

Then she realized another truth. The primary age group who work at restaurants is 18 to 26, and one of their main drivers is paying student loans or tuition. So, she designed a program where for every payment that went toward student loans or tuition fees, the company would match whatever they paid, instead of offering a 1K salary.

Keep learning: Is It a Good Idea to Motivate Your Employees With Money?

The lesson: before deciding on your own what you think your employee wants, spend the time and effort to truly discover what they want. You can ask them in a survey or questionnaire, and based on what they respond, design the benefits you’ll offer.


4. Mind how you market the job

A lot of people take a job description and do a copy-paste to post the job “and that’s really bad”, Tom reproved. Just as you work hard to attract customers, you have to spend as much time and effort on your recruiting ads to go beyond the tasks or requirements of the role.

“Smell the sizzle, you know? When you go by a restaurant and smell something that makes your mouth water, you come in. Same thing with employees: you've got to make them want to apply”, the expert advised.

If you don’t feel so creative and the franchisor offers marketing assistance, ask their help to create a copy that doesn't look like a job post.

“At some point, marketing covers everything: how you attract employees and customers, what you do once that employee is on board, how you retain and fulfill them to make them feel special so they'll make your customer feel better and more special. This just increases your business”.

Tom also reminded business owners to be clear on the expectations for that role. “You can market that they will be happy. But at the end of the day, when they come in the door, they need to know what's expected of them and what can happen if they achieve the expected results and how you’ll acknowledge when they overachieve”.


5. Offer career growth

When people look for a job, they want to know what the career path is, what are the opportunities, how can they get promoted and make more money, how to get more training, and what they can do to improve themselves.

These paths don’t have to be traditional. “Let’s say you have an employee who just seems to be very good with Instagram. Perhaps they can manage your social media. You can offer them an additional stipend and include additional marketing training so they can develop that skill”, said Tom.

Just like that, there may be different positions where younger people with certain skills and abilities can find growth opportunities. If your organization offers a clear direction for people to develop themselves, you’ll be in a better position for them to choose you versus other companies.

“You’ll get a more proactive, happy, and involved employee base that way. And you will retain them better because you're constantly allowing them the opportunity to grow and develop”, Tom emphasized. 


6. Actively network to recruit good employees

If you or your managers like a person’s performance in their local community, why not consider them as a candidate for your business? “The performance of a business is reflective of its management”, said Tom. So, if they like what they experienced, the leaders behind them may be your next hirings.

Think about it! You never know when you're going to meet a superstar that you would love to have in your organization. 

One of the things we recommend to the American Franchise Academy clients is to have a “You impressed me” card with them at all times. So if they come across someone who really impresses them, this card is an opportunity to inquire into a possible job within your organization.

Another resource for finding good employees is business associations and chambers of commerce, where you can let other members know you are looking for people. “Posting a job is passive networking. But if you go out and visit other restaurants, and ask and connect with other people, that’s active networking and being proactive. Both are required for the business”.

Keep learning: The Six-step Process to Hire the Right People for Your Franchise


Why people resign

Tom has been recruiting for a long time and he knows a thing or two about why people quit. So, I asked him to share some of the most common reasons why people leave their jobs. These are some of his thoughts on this matter:

  • Even though everybody has different needs and wants, it's never about money.
  • People spend more time working with their peers than enjoying their families. So if they don’t like working with each other, that’s another red flag.
  • Some people change jobs too frequently, but they're looking for challenges, growth, and development, and they don't feel they can get it where they're at, so they go and find it somewhere else.

I Have Never Fired Anyone. This is Why


“The best thing you can do as a business owner is to not only allow your employees to serve your customers but remember that you too are serving your employees so that they can be their best”. What does this mean? You have to know what they need, understand what they want, and make them a priority to show them you value them.

Tom gave us many powerful insights to win the staffing battle and have better retention to elevate our businesses. You can contact him and learn more about what his company does by visiting our Franchise Supporters playlist on our YouTube channel.