Fast Casual: Fast casual leaders share hiring, recruitment tips amidst labor shortage

By Mandy Wolf Detwiler
Fast Casual, Nov. 12, 2021

... The obstacles related to staff recruitment retention and technologies that can ease the staffing pains were the focus of a panel talk ... at the recent Fast Casual Executive Summit held in Charlotte North Carolina. ...Panelists included Andy Hooper, president of &pizza, Eric Ersher, founder of Zoup! Eatery and John Pepper, founder of Boloco. ...

A recent Indeed poll showed there are four times more jobs than seekers and when it comes to interview time 80% of candidates are no shows. There's a labor churn of 150% ...

"We were as prepared as anybody to meet these challenges because we have always really focused on taking every extra bit of margin to increase the wages of our of our people," Pepper said. "We were at a minimum of $15 before that was a thing. We do it because we really felt like it was hard to actually convince ourselves that we were a real business that paid its bills if we couldn't pay our people the kind of money that would allow them to pay their bills. … People have been really vocal about the kind of work that we, as restaurants ask people to do, and in many cases in our industry, we don't do it very well. We don't do it very kindly. And so I feel like in a way, I don't consider labor woes. I think of this as like a labor bonanza for actual labor, for people who ... do the work, they finally have negotiating power." ...

Hooper said &pizza has been fortunate to largely avoid the labor crisis affecting the industry. When the pandemic hit, many restaurants laid off workers and now can't get them back.

"What we did at &pizza back in April of last year was we guaranteed everybody their employment for 30 days at the beginning of the pandemic and gave them all the raise," Hooper said. "As we look at what's required in the industry to change the paradigm now, it's going to require largely new thinking and new solutions, not just applying some of the historical thoughts that we have about how to manage labor effectively in the business."

Hooper added that as the last remaining states ended the COVID-19 pandemic unemployment funds from the government, "we've seen very little change in terms of people returning to work. I don't think it's because people don't want to work. I think it's because they don't want to work in this industry if we rebuild it in the way that it was built originally." ...

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