How to Have More Success Promoting Chef Jobs in Rural Areas

Your country cafe or restaurant offers good conditions, proper pay, decent hours, a friendly boss and a modern kitchen. So why can’t you find good staff? It’s time for a shift in how you promote the opportunities – the talent is out there, so let’s update the recruitment methods.

Promote the benefits of your area. Check the local tourist authority and council websites – they know how to talk up the town. Country rents and real estate can be much less expensive than the city – don’t forget to mention this in your advertisements. If there is a problem with accommodation, solve it – it can be a deal-breaker, and needs to be part of the whole package. Your website should include information about local attractions, schools and lifestyle, and transport links, as well as opening hours, facilities and menus. This could be the chance for a chef to buy their own house, which they could never afford in a big city.

Advertise positions so the whole country finds them. On your own website and using national job websites. Savvy candidates will check your website, and won’t be impressed if it looks outdated. Facebook advertising is also an option – it can be targeted to a particular area or type of person. See: How to Write Restaurant Job Advertisements That Get a Much Better Response

Consider using a professional recruiter. Use a service that does all the work – hunting, shortlisting, interviewing and recommending. It will cost a few thousand dollars, but the cost of DIY is much more than that – and you know how that’s worked in the past!

Make use of a migration agent. You’re likely to have a lot of applicants who want help to achieve permanent residency. This can be a great opportunity, but immigration laws are complex and changing all the time. Experienced agents can help to screen and assess applicants. With drastic reductions to visitor visas, overseas workers are no longer the answer that they were before 2020.

Update the menu. If the highlight of your offer is a burger & chips, you won’t be successful in attracting young chefs. TV food shows are popular in every part of Australia, and everyone is thinking about food in a new way. Keep the favourites, and a fresh new approach is essential – it needs to be led by the owner.

Build a relationship with the local school. Hospitality is a popular subject, and your teamwork with dedicated teachers will mean you are the first to hear about the best students. Host site visits and work-experience students, offer to be a guest speaker and find out what they need to improve school-to-work transition. Make friends first and the favours will follow.

Keep in touch with former staff. Invite staff to connect with your Facebook page – social media means friendships don’t have to be lost or forgotten. Keep posting photos of staff enjoying their work, as well as the usual food and event shots. Every month or so ‘boost’ a post about happy staff to your fans, so they all see it.

Find work for the partners. If the new chef is arriving with a family, chances are her partner needs work too. How can you help with this? What about her son who will be looking for an apprenticeship in greenkeeping or pastry?

Jump onto the training bandwagon. It won’t take long to find a training provider who will support with supervision, materials and even a subsidy. Everyone needs to start ‘growing their own’, and the hospitality training sector is highly developed.

Think outside the square about who you will employ. You may prefer a low-cost 16-year-old, but the 45-year-old mum could be more stable and flexible, even if you need to ‘untrain’ a few habits as well as installing new ones. Set your standards high – if the applicant doesn’t meet them but has a good attitude, get the coaching and feedback started.

I love this business interview with Nick Kokonas of Alinea and Tock

Make time to listen to one of the best restaurant business podcasts I’ve heard to in a long time: Patrick O’Shaughnessy interviews Nick Kokonas, founder of 3 great Chicago restaurants Alinea, Next, and The Aviary. He’s also co-founder and CEO of Tock, an innovative restaurant booking system.

Alinea broke the mould with the way they pre-sold bookings to avoid no-shows and cancellations, and introduced variable pricing (just like planes and hotels). Kokonas then developed the booking software to manage the process and the level of customer communication they wanted… and went on to sell the system to hundreds of other operators.

By knowing how many people will be visiting and what they’ll be ordering, Alinea is able to radically reduce labour and food costs – and break apart the ‘typical’ restaurant costs and profit margins (a fantastic story about how they halved the cost of high-end beef). Even learning the secrets of the publishing business to produce their cookery and cocktail books was an adventure, and created another highly-profitable niche. COVID-19 came, and there had to be a significant reshaping of the business – with strong foundations and a robust booking system, that change could be done in a matter of days.

The Alinea group is way bigger than many of the cafes and restaurants I connect with in Australia, but the lessons they’ve learned are absolutely applicable – put aside an hour of your time for some great business inspiration.

Update: here’s a long interview (3 hours!) between Nick Kokonas and Tim Ferriss from 2018.

10 Ways to Celebrate Your Restaurant’s Birthday, and Make a Real Impact

People love to see a business succeed, and if they’re regular customers, they have watched your growth and development. An annual birthday celebration is a great way to share the love and build loyalty. Not sure when it is? No problem, make it up! Once you’ve set the date, here are some easy ways to spread the word, and remember, social media is your #1 friend for this!

Birthday Week, not just One Day: milk this for all you can – start promoting in the week before, so people take notice. You could even do a countdown sign – 7, 6, 5, 4… This is when you’ll be rolling out the publicity events listed about below.

Birthday Cake on the Day: square cakes are much easier to cut into small pieces, or prepare dozens of tiny cupcakes. Bright icing and a candle – everyone gets a piece.

Candles, Candles, Candles: on all desserts on the day, and maybe there are a couple of big candles on the counter. Label them for what they are, so people don’t think it’s a religious ceremony (!).

Gifts for the Customers: a voucher given out on the day, a free beverage or appetiser – something that will make an impact. Red Envelopes will also work a treat – bringing people back like a boomerang.

Show Old Photos: put an album together on a noticeboard, or better still on Facebook and Instagram.

Show it at the beginning: construction work, the old kitchen, the first espresso machine and some of the original staff. Plus milestones since then – look through your hard drive, there are tons of pictures! Create a slideshow video – they’re easy to make, just ask one of your young staff.

Where Are They Now? Tell people about staff who’ve moved on (the nice ones), and how many people you’ve employed over the years. It’s another reminder of the value of hospitality, and what you contribute to the area – a major employer.

Big Thank You Signs: in the window – get stick-on letters from a signage shop or a mega-sized poster. With all accounts given to customers, include your business card with a sticker on the back explaining that it’s your birthday and why you are proud. Or print a special slip with this information – make sure people know why it’s a big deal.

Boast About Some Numbers: ‘in the two years we’ve been open, we have served more than 50,000 happy customers, poured 22,000 beers and used 1500 kg of strawberries’. You get the idea – the numbers are light-hearted and also meant to impress. 50,000 customers over 2 years is still only 500 per week – maybe yours are much more!

Sing Happy Birthday: your staff do this for customers, now’s the time to do it on the hour throughout the special day. OK, not in the middle of peak hour, but you get the idea. We are hard-wired to respond to this music with a smile and a cheer, so play it up! There are other Happy Birthday songs (eg Stevie Wonder) – post the YouTube videos of these on Facebook throughout the week.

#Hashtag it: on Facebook & Instagram, set up a #hashtag just for the occasion and have an Instagram competition for the person who posts the best photo tagged #TroppoBirthday (for Cafe Troppo).

How to Support Staff to Give Productive Feedback & Suggestions

Your staff have plenty of bright ideas, but do they know the best way to present them?

If you want your staff to keep taking a positive interest in your business, you may need to teach them about ‘managing upwards’. Sometimes known as ‘managing the boss’, and it’s a lot more than knowing how she likes her coffee or what beer he drinks.

Many staff have bright ideas for new menus, equipment, service and efficiencies. Some will cost money and many of them won’t, but they usually need the agreement of senior management, owners or directors.

Staff are often told their suggestions are welcome: ‘my door is always open…’, but sometimes they don’t know how to use the key. Management, in turn, needs to hold back on the reflex reaction of ‘how much will that all cost?’ Suggestions soon dry up if the response is always negative.

Your staff may have noticed that you happily spend thousands on new furniture and ‘research holidays’ overseas, but then knock back their request for a faster coffee machine or function software to manage room bookings. But let’s leave those very human inconsistencies aside…

Here are some principles to share with staff so they offer their suggestions in a way that will be heard and taken seriously.

  • Choose your timing – don’t just drop by, it undervalues your time and the idea, and doesn’t respect the time of others. Make an appointment, even if it’s informal.
  • Get permission for the discussion. No-one likes to be ambushed, so make sure the boss knows what you want to talk about. This will also build curiosity and hopefully, a willingness to listen.
  • Be specific with examples, and offer comparisons with other businesses. Talk about ‘before’ and ‘after’ situations. Give the names of businesses where this equipment or method of operation can be seen in action. Gather testimonials, especially for intangibles like software. Show websites and social media posts to build your case.
  • Be frank with any possible negatives, or issues that might arise if changes are made. How will a menu change impact on other items? How will the kitchen cope, and what will be the reaction of customers? Where will new equipment fit? What will be the staff reaction if rostering is done in a different way?
  • Show financial benefits, and show the numbers. Will the suggestion save money, or will it increase sales and profits? How will that happen? Will this make the business look better or improve its reputation? Be ready to talk about the Return on Investment – how quickly the expense will pay for itself. A spreadsheet may help to make the costing more understandable.
  • Be ready with a short, written summary, so it’s not just words floating in the air. This may be a Word document, a spreadsheet or notes in the diary. Something that can be referred to later. A one-page Suggestion Sheet that sets out these details makes it easier for staff to put their bright ideas into a form that will make sense.

Innovation means taking risks, and the most successful businesses are continually testing new ideas and looking for better ways of working. Every single staff member knows of at least one way you could save money or unlock sales, even if it’s small. When you create positive channels, the positive ideas and enthusiasm of your staff will flow in all sorts of unexpected and wonderful ways. But you need to prepare the way…

How to Write Restaurant Job Advertisements That Get a Much Better Response

It’s not hard to write a good advertisement – most are so poorly written yours will stand out with just a little care!

The secret is to offer real BENEFITS – talk about what applicants want, not just what you want – this is basic Marketing 101, and most operators ignore it. You need to get into the mind of the jobseeker…

Incude these terms if you can genuinely offer them:

  • Business name – most applicants will Google it or check social media
  • Parking & transport options
  • Day shift, Monday to Friday (if that’s what you offer) or work hours presented in a positive manner
  • ‘Good pay’ or Award Wages
  • Flexible hours
  • Modern kitchen with efficient layout
  • Uniform & training provided
  • Plenty of work, immediate start
  • Weekly pay into your bank account
  • Annual leave or vacation time
  • Happy and productive team
  • Organised systems
  • Opportunities to learn & grow

Avoid terms like these:
sincere, hard-working, keen, energetic, team player, creative, honest, good personality, bubbly, enthusiastic, bright etc. There’s nothing wrong with these qualities, but they usually sound like a list of demands! If that’s all you say, your ad will look like all the others and sound desperate and unfriendly.

Here are two advertisement examples, rewritten for a better response by including benefits:

BEFORE: Cook for small cafe in Braybrook
3yrs+ experience, must be hard working & speak v good English.
7am – 5pm Sat & Sun. Ph. 345 6789

AFTER: Cook for Braybrook’s best cafe
Modern kitchen, happy & productive team, free parking and good train service. 3yrs+ cafe experience – start now.
Call Peter on Ph. 345 6789. Hours: 7am – 5pm Sat & Sun.

——————————-

BEFORE: Chef with great attitude needed
30 hrs pw – Essendon. Email CV to busyben@ABC
Only those chosen for interview will be contacted.

AFTER: Exp. Chef or Cook for Cafe ABC in Essendon.
Days only, close to train, great kitchen setup, flexible roster, strong and happy team. Fresh food with great reputation.
Email CV to busyben@ABC or phone 41456 – all applications will be answered.

How the H-Word Boosts Restaurant Sales and Cuts Costs

People expect a lot from us – fast, friendly, good value, available, and more. That’s why the H-Word can add power to your reputation, and even bring down costs with suppliers. Not magic, but it works – you do it, now all the staff need to get with the same program…hands180

The H-Word stands for Helpful, and it may sound a bit low-key. Like ‘nice’ and ‘tasty’ – not much power in it.

But think about when customers describe staff as UnHelpful – they won’t be flexible with a reservation, assist with a diet request, help with the needs of a child, or they make you sit in the uncomfortable corner… hmmm, let me dive onto Facebook and tell 150 of my best friends… 😮

Maybe we need to think about how we can be more helpful and take a close look at what this means to your staff. They sometimes find it easier to be unhelpful – just follow the rules and don’t make it inconvenient for me. It’s often about little things.

Helpful with Diets – it’s the price of being in business these days, gluten-free, vegetarian, low-sodium and so it goes on. Smile and work out ways to make this a drama-free part of the menu.

Helpful with Kids – oh yes, it sometimes feel parents check-out when they visit and let the little monsters run free. But your help, flexibility and understanding will keep happy families coming back for YEARS – now we’re talking real ‘long term value of a customer’. Some of your staff aren’t so good with kids, and some are wonderful – choose carefully.

Helpful with Parties – we know the right menus to fit your budget, and how to organise the timing so drinks won’t run out. We can supply a sound system, a photographer, a room for the bride and an excellent DJ. We’ve done this a hundred times before – making parties run smoothly is our second nature!

Helpful with Business Customers – quiet corner for a sales meeting, no problem. Free WiFi, for sure. Snappy service for a quick lunch – easy. Friendly but not familiar.

Helpful with First Dates – you’ve got the all-important ‘distraction factor’ available, with plenty of people watching and conversation starters. It’s not every place that has this – your staff usually know who rely on it 😉

Helpful with Gift Ideas – Gift Vouchers ready for ‘friends who have everything’, and surprise parties a specialty. Gift wrapping or shipping for the t-shirts and preserves – not a problem. And when it’s Christmas shopping season, take the initiative and solve gift-giving problems – the magic question after you’ve made the first sale is ‘who else is on your list?’. Kaching!!

Helpful with the Neighbourhood – offer the function room for the community meeting on park development, free coffee included. Help out with the school fundraiser, and work experience for culinary students. It doesn’t take long for helpful places to become ‘owned’ by their neighbours.

Helpful to Suppliers – paying bills on time, ordering according to the agreement system, flexible if there’s an unavoidable change to a product. They can be helpful too, with an urgent delivery or super deal on end-of-line products. So keep cranky-chef in his box – a friendly relationship with suppliers can pay big dividends.

Thanks to marketer Tim Reid for inspiration for this post…

Using Toyota’s 8 Waste Control Methods in Your Restaurant or Cafe

Toyota built its world-class success by watching and controlling every step of the manufacturing process, especially waste. It’s very useful to apply the discipline of manufacturing to hospitality – we make things too!

Use Toyota’s classification of 8 different types of waste, and discover new ways to cut costs and improve your bottom line.

  1. Over-Production: creating more of a product than is needed. The enthusiastic bar staff over-prepare fruit garnishes for the evening. Salad trays are filled beyond what’s needed and too much meat is carved. Forecasting accurate sales of different products reduces this – over-production is usually the default.
  2. Excessive Wait Time. When staff must wait to do their job, because of bottlenecks, shortages of equipment or lack of support. Insufficient glassware means drinks can’t be served while glasses are being washed. A deep-fryer that’s under-powered takes too long to cook chips, slowing up meals. Insufficient mise-en-place means delays for chefs.
  3. Transportation Waste – unnecessary movement of products and equipment. Carrying one box at a time from the store, instead of using a trolley to bring them all together. When the bar is not setup for efficient service, with high-demand bottles a long way from where they’re needed. What works: a barista who has everything at hand and can push product through quickly and efficiently – it’s so good to watch!
  4. Processing Waste – repeated action that adds no value to a product or service. Intentional over-processing might be a barman creating a complex cocktail, with far more garnish than the customer wants. Non-intentional over-processing is when an apprentice finely chops vegetables that will only be used for stock – no-one told him it’s not needed.
  5. Inventory Waste – over-ordering that results in spoilage or theft. Just because the salesman offers you a bonus box of wine if you order 10, doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. Where will you store it? High-value items in abundance lose their value in the eyes of staff and may start to disappear or be used carelessly – ‘no-one will notice’.
  6. Motion Waste – unnecessary movement that does not add value, eg when untrained staff take much longer to do a task than needed. Are there too many steps needed to do the roster or payroll? Can essential forms be found quickly on the computer? Do you need unnecessary approvals for standard ordering decisions?
  7. Defect Waste – when a product or service must be redone to meet a standard. It could be human or equipment error. Not following a recipe means the mousses don’t set – out they go! Failing to keep the oven in good condition means baked goods burn easily. Job interviewers don’t ask the right questions, so unqualified people are appointed, and later on must be let go.
  8. Unused Employee Talent and Creativity – the waste that’s far too common, from a failure to listen. Toyota is famous for its rigorous involvement of staff in improving processes and reducing errors – why don’t we do it too? Some managers don’t want to listen, or think they know everything. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. If an employee notices an inefficient or unnecessary process, will she be listened to when she mentions it to the manager?

Combine these 8 types of Waste and the cost reduction will be considerable. Some are more common than others, and some have never been considered as a real problem.

Many managers attempt to fix problems or reduce costs by just watching everything, when the problem is often with the lack of standards, systems and consultation.

40 Photo Ideas for Your Restaurant’s Christmas Social Media

Social media posts thrive on visual content, and there are dozens of opportunities to take all sorts of photos during the Christmas season – food, decorations, people and local scenes. They will look good on Facebook, Instagram and your website. Snap and share, and many can be used again next year.

  • Gather props – Christmas balls or decorations, Santa hats and strings of lights – they will all be useful.
  • Starting the Day – setting up the kitchen, turning on the coffee machine, hosing the courtyard, Christmas food deliveries, first customers etc
  • A Special Christmas Offer – your Christmas Hamper offer or photo of a special menu item
  • On the Christmas Menu – food or beverage item from the special menu – different items can be added every few days
  • Christmas Gift Card – held proudly by a typical customer, or with Christmas decoration around it
  • Something Funny – a Christmas joke – add it to a seasonal image using Canva.com
  • Christmas Quote – find some suitable quotes from this Quotes Website – add them to a seasonal image using Canva.com
  • Christmas Cracker jokes – put them on a background of a Christmas cracker and share the best or worst ones. A Christmas tradition – find a bunch of them here.
  • Something that Sparkles – add tinsel or shiny Christmas balls to any of the images you already use. Garnish a dessert with something sparkling.
  • The Weather Today – a photo of the beautiful day outside, whether it’s sunny or snowing
  • Seen on the Way to Work – a local landmark or something unusual or amusing – a local sign, quirky shop, landscape formation etc
  • Seen in the Neighbourhood – outrageous Christmas decorations, big Santa, house with the most Christmas lights
  • Someone we Remember – used to work here or a favourite customer or local character
  • Festive Fashion – staff or customers wearing Santa hats or reindeer ears, Santa suits etc
  • Santa’s Helpers – get some elf hats from a party shop and take a photo of staff hard at work, as if this is what they always wear!
  • Customers in the Christmas mood – have a basket of Christmas hats and props and share with your party customers. Take photos of them dressed up and having fun.
  • My Morning Drink – the coffee, herb tea, chai or juice you have to start the day
  • On My To-Do List – take a screenshot of a list in bold text, with some serious and some amusing
  • Our Christmas Tree – if this is something special, show it off and take close-ups of special decorations
  • Our Christmas decorations – if they’re big and wonderful, take a photo, especially with light shining on them
  • A Special Tradition – something that’s done every year in your area or household, or in the restaurant
  • On the Front Door – if you have a Christmas wreath, share a photo
  • Something We Made – the food the dessert, the Christmas scene etc
  • How We Relax When Not at Work – a photo of staff relaxing – at the beach in Australia, or in the park, Christmas shopping etc
  • Your Christmas Workspace – a photo of your busy desk or workbench, but style it so it looks productive, not just a mess
  • Outside the Window – busy people, a busy street, birds flying, a Christmas scene – something amusing or interesting
  • A Symbol of the Season – a star, crib, Christmas decorations – local shops or churches may have good subjects
  • Something Sweet – Christmas desserts, special drinks, a gingerbread house
  • Best Part of the Day – having a well-deserved break, or when customers arrive or closing up at night
  • Bright Lights – take a slightly blurred photo of Christmas lights, or of local buildings lit and decorated
  • Work Hard, Play Hard – staff playing sport on their day off – ask them to take some photos and send to you
  • My Christmas Family – ask staff to share some photos of people they will be having with them on Christmas day
  • The Spirit of Christmas – photos of local charities who will be helping people on Christmas
  • Your Inspiration – a saying, a photo, a holiday memory, a special person – explain why
  • A Happy Customer – photo taken of them enjoying food or a drink
  • A Happy Party – photos of party groups having a good time – best if you take groups of just 3 or 4 at a time so everyone is seen clearly
  • After the Party – busy and happy staff stacking chairs or cleaning up after a party. Use the Instagram app Hyperlapse to take a short, speeded-up video of the action
  • Chefs at Work – up-close video of them decorating desserts or garnishing canapés or preparing food – hands is enough. Use the Instagram app for a video of up to 30 seconds.
  • Selfie Time! Have a selfie stick available for customers to borrow and ask them to text or email you the best photo. Show them how to use the trigger by linking with their Bluetooth phone settings
  • Warm and Cosy – if it’s cold outside, a photo of a scene that’s warm and glowing. These can look good from outside looking in at night
  • Cool and Relaxed – if it’s summer at Christmas time, photos of cool drinks and your garden or outside seating with relaxed customers
  • Something Brand New – some new equipment, a new menu item, new decorations etc

Promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Your Cafe or Restaurant

It’s an important annual event in October and might be forgotten with all the COVID issues on our mind. It’s had less publicity in the last few years but is no less valued – we all have mothers, sisters, daughters and friends who have been affected.

The purpose of the month is to raise money for breast cancer medical care and research. It also raises awareness of an issue that affects tens of thousands of women and even some men.

How to get started

  • Check out these websites to understand the issue and the programs that need support: NBCF, McGrath Foundation and BCT. Plus information on Wikipedia and Cancer Australia.
  • Brainstorm with your staff – as you engage them, their enthusiasm to communicate with customers will become natural, not something they need reminding about. It’s an issue for women and for men.
  • Make plans to share with customers in your venue, on social media and through your email communication. If you’re making deliveries, include a flyer. If you’re raising money, tell everyone how it will be used.

Promotional ideas…

  • Just like food and drinks go green on St Patricks Day, this is the month to put a pink blush on desserts, drinks and decorations – there are opportunities all day, every day of the week. Pink latte anyone?
  • Promote the month with posters and flyers – free online design service Canva has some great templates ready to use.
  • Work out the best way to raise money, and choose a non-profit group (see above) to support. In previous years, fund-raising lunches were held – this is more difficult in 2020 but there can still be raffles and donations. Even raising $100 can make an impact. It could involve donations from customers on a certain day, a special fund-raising meal, or selling pink ribbon merchandise.
  • Take lots of photos – they don’t have to be clever, just real. Remember the digital photo rule – take 20 pictures and only use the best ones.
  • Share personal experiences – if you have staff who are willing to talk about how they or family have been touched by this issue, social media can be a good place for a photo and some simple words.
  • Have a special ‘wear pink’ day, just like they do at the cricket! Pink t-shirts are easy to organise.
  • Organise some pink lighting for your venue. You can do it with strings of lights or lanterns, or just change a few globes.
  • Make pink food and drinks – here’s a bunch of pink recipes, pink cocktails, rosé is more popular than ever, and there are plenty of ‘pink’ songs on Spotify to add to the playlist.
  • Celebrate what you did at the end of the month – be proud, sharing photos and stories about events and fundraising. Save the best experiences to repeat next year!