I remember watching a TV show called the A Team when I was a kid. Apparently if you were having a hard time with bad guys trashing your stuff or kidnapping your girl all you had to do was find the A team and hey presto – plans coming together, baddies vanquished, grateful girl returned and cigars smoked.
These days the A Teams I’m familiar with work in hospitality – but I’m sure you’ll know an A team near you. They’re at that business where the staff that seem to glide around with easy confidence – like a Special forces unit in aprons. They laugh, they play with customers, the atmosphere always seems amazing and the service is immaculate. Drinks are always full; the expensive stuff keeps flying out to customers and the add-ons and upsells never end – the place feels like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate factory.
So where do we find these roving bands of crack troops? How can they be tracked down – can somebody find you Your A Team?
Building an efficient, effective team needs good foundations. You need to know how to hire correctly in the first place, regardless of whether you’re hiring a whole team, or individuals to fill a position.
Here’s a few tips you can employ to make sure you get the best people for your squad.
Know what you are
Having a strong idea and sense of your brand will allow you to form an idea in your mind of the best candidates for the position – this will help you form the advert for the role and the type of candidate you want to interview.
Know where to look
Depending on the role you might need to look in a few different places for the kind of candidate you need. For Chefs, Managers, Supervisors – you may want to consider recruitment companies or websites like Seek
For a junior position you may want to try Facebook groups like Sydney Bartender Exchange / Melbourne Bartender Exchange, local Job seekers centres or Gumtree.
Know what you want & how to get it
Make sure the advert is specific to the role – don’t just copy and paste old documents. An honest description of the expectations of the role, good images of the venue, a link to your social media pages and website will give candidates a good overview of how great a place it is to work, and how professional you are.
Give yourself time to look
Getting stuck in a situation where a team member walks out is thankfully rare, but it does happen, in which case you’ll be relying on yourself and your other team members to pick up the slack while you arrange a replacement. It might be tough, especially if you’ve done back to back A.F.D’s for the last 2 weeks – but panic hiring leads to more pain (trust me on this one!)
(a great staff moral tip is to make sure the staff who covered the slack are rewarded – cinema tickets are a good one – they’ll be more inclined to help you next time as well!)
You get what you pay for
As the saying goes, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys – if you didn’t factor in your wage cost into your business model, you’re going to struggle to hire and retain good staff. There are so many Facebook groups devoted to Baristas, Bartenders and Chefs that if you’re paying below market value your good team members will go elsewhere and you’ll struggle to retain capable people, as well as all that knowledge and training!
It’s a good idea to agree a trial period with new Management level staff – just to allow people time to bed into the role, and to learn new systems. Anywhere between 1 -3 months is average and should give you time to have a good look at the new candidate.
For junior team members or casual staff, I would recommend inviting them to an unpaid
3-hour shift. Let them know they can walk if they’re not happy or you can finish them up if you’re not happy. If it’s a busy shift and they’re going well, after the 3 hours we pay them.
Please don’t be that person that sticks people on a trial for a busy Saturday and Sunday shift – or even longer and then doesn’t pay the staff. (Yes, it happens)
Some of the finest, most hard-working team members I’ve had the pleasure to work with could hardly speaking English when they started, or I thought they might have been too old, or too young, or not experienced enough, or too experienced – But my first impressions were wrong each time.
Having your brief for the role in your head and focusing on the best candidate for the business is imperative. Remember you’re not hiring a friend, or a slave, or a potential date!
It’s not just about money though
You can offer great pay packages, but if your staff still feel bullied, or you have an uncomfortable work environment, good teams are going to walk.
If a waitress won’t serve a customer because he’s a gross pervert you need to solve that issue, likewise if the Duty Manager or Chef is a bully you need to address the problem.
Toxic workplaces are inexcusable and represent a huge cash sink in your business. Lost staff represent a loss of skills, customer relationships, training investment and knowledge.
Nurture your team and you’ll reap the rewards.
What goes around comes around
If you get a really good candidate, but they miss out on the role, make sure you share their details with other businesses in your area, or at least tell them where they might have better luck. Nothing makes you feel happier than a good candidate turning up at your business when you’re looking for staff after they heard from another local business that you were looking!