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How to find the perfect employee for your café

You may have heard that retail and food service has amongst the highest turnover of any industry worldwide. And the all too common problem is not prioritising time for a thorough recruitment and onboarding process.

It may seem tedious and time consuming, or you may not even know where to begin, but once you establish the right process, it will set you up for success.

Expediting the process by employing the first person who seems to fit the bill would initially seem like an efficient and productive way to keep your business running. However, more often than not, this will just lead you to hiring the wrong person, dealing with the repercussions of their shortcomings, processing their termination and starting the vicious cycle over again. Not so time efficient any more, is it?

Having a framework in place increases the likelihood of bringing someone on board who aligns to your business vision and is compatible to your culture, securing you a long term employee who can build trust, competency and continuity in your business.

Here are my tips for finding your next café superstar:

Create a compelling ad.

Keep it concise and be specific about what position you are looking for, but provide an insight into your cafe and share some personality that reflects your culture and vibe. You can post an ad on sites like seek.com.au and www.coffeejobs.com.

Filter the applications.

Develop a shortlist of applicants that have the hospitality experience and are closely aligned to the requirements of the job, or can be trained into the role.

Initiate a phone conversation.

Call preferred applicants on the phone and have a brief discussion about your requirements, the role and their experience. Keep it light! The purpose of this is to see what their communication and conversational skills are like. It offers a preview of what their communication skills would be like with customers and other staff. 

ALSO READ: 15 tips that can help you build your own A-team for your restaurant

Meet your favourites.

Invite your two or three most favoured applicants to a face to face interview. Have a structured set of questions relating to their experience and what they can contribute to the role, keeping your business culture in front of mind. Will this person be compatible with yourself, your customer base and other employees?

Do a reference check.

Conduct references of their two most recent employers. Have questions prepared regarding their experience and abilities to determine what they are like in an employment capacity and whether it matches up to your requirements. 

Plan the onboarding.

Once you have made your final decision, notify the successful applicant, prepare relevant paperwork and organize appropriate onboarding and training. The onboarding process is just as important, to ensure the successful new employee has a positive start to the journey and the best possible chance at success. 

Let the others know.

Contact other interviewed applicants and let them know they were not successful, offering feedback if suitable, and thank them for their time. 

Have a process.

Avoid possible pitfalls by implementing a recruitment structure and get to know the person you’re bringing in to represent your business. Potential performance management issues, friction with existing staff and customer complaints are not worth the shortcut.

About the author:

Petar Jurcic is the founder of Crimson Bear Health Cafe and Director of The 5AR Group, a coaching and consultancy business aimed at working alongside small businesses, startups and individuals for personal growth and development​. He can be reached via email: pjurcic@the5argroup.com or instagram: the5argroup.

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