NO MAGIC WAND: Tips to retain employees and stop the revolving door at your franchise.

Author:Combe, Ryan

Everyone throughout franchising is familiar with churn rates. In the restaurant industry, the statistics paint the picture - annual employee turnover in quick service and fast casual restaurants falls between 70 and 110 percent in most surveys. And the cost to replace each employee varies from $2,000 to $4,000. Turnover and staffing are often the issues that keep restaurant owners and managers awake at night.

Anyone in any business knows that the best results often come by learning from failure or simply by accident. We would love to tell you we've found the perfect blueprint for solving the employee turnover issue, but the truth is we stumbled into incredible employee success, in large part due to best practices and failures of other great restaurant and business ideas and concepts.

The FiRE + iCE franchise has been in business for well over a decade and we have managed between 10 percent and 20 percent annual turnover at multiple locations. Because this is not a recent trend for us, we've researched and understand the factors in our success in retaining employees. We've found there is no magic wand to wave to keep employees, but there are several factors that contribute, including:

Concept is King

FiRE + iCE is an interactive grill, where customers create their own meal by selecting from international foods and sauces at a salad bar-type arrangement and bringing it directly to grill chefs. The concept contributes to several of the factors below, but the biggest lesson we've learned is that the interactive aspect

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(continued from page 82) truly involves and engages the diner. When customers are happy, that emotion spreads throughout the restaurant. Every day we see this and it has become a staple of the concept.

Less Stress on Servers

This is a goal we all share in the restaurant and customer service businesses. Because the servers at FiRE + iCE need only bring appetizers and drinks to patrons, the stress levels are lower (compared with keeping track of dozens of meals). This illustrates the idea of a happy customer and its impact on not just your staff, but the atmosphere overall. When the wait staff has more time to interact with the customer, it becomes a deeper experience for both sides. Additionally, servers can cover larger sections, meaning more tips. Less stress, plus more money, equals...

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