30 July

Bringing in the Big Guns to a Small Western Town

Synergy Restaurant Consultants | Restaurant recruiting
Synergy Restaurant Consultants

A tailored and thorough recruiting process leads to top talent acquisition

Will all of the restaurants out there waging the war for talent, how do you attract top-shelf management and culinary talent to a tiny market? Sell the lifestyle, not just a list of job duties.

This was the strategy developed to hire a General Manager and Executive Chef for Buffalo Block, a polished casual steakhouse concept Synergy helped develop in Billings, Montana. “We started by getting crystal-clear on what the client wanted in a GM and Chef,” explained Rita Imerson, Synergy’s Operations and Training Consultant. “Most important to the client was creating a restaurant culture that was positive and had a family feel. He knew that the GM and Chef would have a huge impact on the culture, so it was important to find candidates that shared those same values.” Successful candidates also needed to be largely self-sufficient. According to Rita, “the chef and GM had to be self-starters since the owner was planning to be strictly hands-off when it came to day-to-day operations. They also needed experience in new-store openings.”

When it came to writing the job descriptions, Rita knew that a standard approach would not work in this unique recruiting situation. “The first few lines of each job description were crafted to describe why this was such a great opportunity for the candidate who best reflected the client’s mission and goals,” said Rita. “The owner wants to build not just the best steakhouse, but the best restaurant in Montana. They were looking for candidates who wanted to work for a family-owned company and were ready to tackle a big challenge.”

Another challenge was drawing quality talent to a small Montana town. Here again, the strategy revolved around selling a specific lifestyle. “Key to recruiting success was having a client who understood that they were making an investment in the right kind of talent, according to Rita. “We carefully studied the local market to survey comparable wages and benefits and made sure to offer more than the local standard.”

To attract qualified candidates, Rita reached out through her network as well as posted the job descriptions on standard job web sites. Rita explained, “Oftentimes your best candidate is already employed, so we scoured LinkedIn for job seekers.” Once the final candidates were selected, they underwent three interviews before being introduced to the client.

The final test for the chef was to come in a cook a dish they felt fit the brand and personality of the restaurant. General manager candidates were individually interviewed and walked the restaurant construction site with the owner and Synergy as a group for an open-ended interview. The questions they asked about the restaurant and future operations helped determine the best candidate for the position.

Though this recruiting process required a great deal of time and attention, the efforts paid off with the owner hiring two exceptional candidates who are working hard to help open the restaurant this fall. “The client knew that the people filling these positions will have a huge impact on the restaurant operations and culture. This was much more than a recruiting process — it was an investment in the restaurant’s future success.”

Restaurant recruiting