If you asked most cafe owners to discuss the challenges they face while operating their business, I would guarantee the majority would say that finding and retaining staff would create the biggest headache. It’s an all too familiar issue. In fact, most recently I was speaking to a particular cafe owner who said that he finds himself having to search for staff on almost a monthly basis. Monthly!?! I can only imagine how much money that must cost.
He was saying that it’s impossible to find good, reliable, professional staff that do the job for the right reasons. Impossible he said. Impossible to find staff that do it because they’ve chosen it as a career. Funnily enough this is also a person who outwardly displays his hatred for the industry in which he works. I guess it stands to reason that he encounters these issues.
How many times have you walked past a cafe and found a notice stuck to the front window displaying the words ‘staff wanted’ or ‘barista wanted’. They’re everywhere and not surprisingly, these are often the same places that seem to be forever searching for staff.
I’ll never forget the words I heard listening to a radio interview with the former Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett about 10 years ago. Jeff was talking about this very issue and although it was in reference to much larger companies, the same philosophy applies. He said, quite simply, that the best people for the jobs you are trying to fill are currently employed. They’re not ‘looking for work’. If they’re proficient at the job they do, then they are already under someone else’s employ. Staff like this are out there in the industry, putting in the hours trying to better themselves, trying to improve, working with other professionals and trying to learn from good people who respect and love the industry.
A hand written note, stuck to the front window will no doubt attract people. The response will be immediate. Are they, however, the type of people you’re looking for? The best people for the job you’re trying to fill are not walking up and down the street. If you’re going to continue to search the cheap and easy way, with the handwritten note stuck to the window, you’ll continue to attract the person who is wandering up and down the street searching for a way to find the money they need for the next overseas trip that has already been booked for 3 months time.
The way to get them is to go and find them. Target places that you know are the best with staff that you know are the best and offer them an opportunity that they may not be getting currently. Sound brutal? Maybe. It’s a brutal industry. Find the people you want, make a short list and present them with an opportunity and I guarantee you’ll find someone who won’t let you down, who will turn up on Saturday morning, who won’t expect every public holiday off work and who will work as hard as they possibly can to get to where they want to be. Suddenly your biggest headache will be gone.
What will it cost? A few hours walking the pavement.
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