As the manager of five pizza restaurants, I receive two questions more than most others: How do we find people? And do I ever sleep? The latter question, of course, refers to my busy schedule — but if I can answer the first question, it can turn the answer to the second into a resounding “yes.”
Finding, hiring and training the right people makes the job of an owner easier. It’s even better if I can turn them into a manager, because it allows me to work on high-level projects and build the business with an ever-expanding team in more and more locations.
However, almost every restaurant in America is currently feeling the pain of being short-handed and struggling to hire new staff. Now is as good a time as ever to revamp your hiring process, from the “help wanted” sign through the interview. If you look across the industry, you see restaurants are resorting to rare and expensive tactics: signing bonuses, free food, expanded benefits and more. The question becomes how the small pizzerias of the world compete with all of that? The one thing I can
assure you is that you can’t take the same approach as always.
Let’s dig into this process as we get ready to go to the city that never sleeps in August for the much-anticipated International Pizza Expo. I’ll be hosting a workshop on this exact topic alongside my colleague and fellow World Pizza Champions team member, Will Grant.
You’re probably used to marketing your food — now you need to market your company. Look in the mirror and think about how you position your company to your future employees.
A fresh, clean ad featuring a welcoming photo of you or your store is the first step. You wouldn’t use stock photos on your menu, so don’t use stock photos in your hiring ad. When it comes to posting the ads, remember you don’t share your regular ads in one place, so don’t limit yourself here, either. We use Facebook, Indeed, Craigslist and Instagram. On top of that, we have posters at all the stores and multiple banners on the outside of the stores. In addition, we use box-toppers to get the word out about our hiring.
Don’t forget to leverage word of mouth, too. We have an incentive program in place to reward employees who bring in their friends.
Bringing in new employees is vital, but where do we find new managers? We don’t look far, as we love to promote from within, lifting people in regular staff positions into leadership roles. This makes us a strong company from the inside out, and we have a great idea of who we are getting. We do occasionally hire from the outside, but that is typically for an entry-level management position, such as a shift leader.
Whoever it is, they will work and train through the ranks, from kitchen manager to assistant manager and then, finally, into a general manager role. In the nine years of our company, we have never hired a general manager from outside the company. Only twice have we hired assistant managers from the outside, but each worked and trained very hard and became general managers.
Training days (and days and days…)
Training is essential for the overall development of the team and the retention of your staff. An employee who is trained well at their job and is a contributing member of a team is more likely to stay and be part of the team. We have all been in a situation at a job on the first day where the boss says, “This is Joey. Joey, this is the New Guy,” and off they go. Joey might tell the New Guy whether he likes the place and show some of the ropes — all with no rhyme or reason behind it. It’s your job to put some direction and purpose into your training program. We break ours into three phases.
1. Onboarding: This is the phase where we do an employee’s paperwork, get their information into the computer system, introduce them to the rest of the team and give them a tour of the store and its operations. This includes showing off everything from the dumpster and bathrooms to where the schedule is posted, where the coolers are located and everything in between. We want the new hire to feel like part of the team from the moment they come aboard, so it’s important for them to see the layout of the whole operation and to meet as many of the team members as possible.
2. S.A.W.: Show. Assist. Watch. It’s our simple process for training in common tasks. For example, let’s say we are teaching a new hire to stretch dough. First, we show them how we stretch a dough ball, step-by-step. Next, we do each step together and assist them along the way. Next, we watch them stretch the dough by themselves, coaching them as we go (in truth, the coaching never ends). In addition to using S.A.W., we also have a detailed training packet (which we will share at the class) that we guide each new team member through depending on their position.
3. Evaluation and constant coaching. The last phase might be the most important. We meet with each new employee on the last shift of each week in their first four weeks for an update on their progress and to simply communicate with them. We listen for feedback and we also give positive reinforcement. This culminates in a final sit-down in which we go over each line of the training packet with them, hopefully setting them up for success. Once this process is complete, we repeat it over and over for each new team member.
Following this process, we continue to find and train great team members — and I’m also able to get some sound sleep!
Jokes aside, hiring and training is right next to the quality of our product in why we’ve been able to succeed at Caliente. Customers truly can tell a difference when employees and managers are lacking in skill or training, so be sure to join myself and Will for our workshop at Pizza Expo. We’re looking forward to seeing you!
NICK BOGACZ is the founder and president of Caliente Pizza & Draft House in Pittsburgh. Instagram: @caliente_pizza