If you’re running a food and beverage business for some time now, you may realize there are some months during the year that call for seasonal staff members. Especially if you’re running a business in a seasonal destination, you know that there is customer fluctuation throughout the year. For instance, if your operation is at the beachfront, you’re more likely to have higher demand during the summer. On the contrary, if your business is on the mountain, then you’ll probably be busier during the winter holidays when people head to colder destinations to enjoy the snow and related activities. Know when your busy season is, unless you have been consistently busy for a few months in a row. This probably means that you need to consider hiring more full-time staff.
The advantages of seasonal staff
Seasonal workers offer restaurants a lot of benefits compared to full-time, permanent staff. Here’s a few of them:
- They are commonly college students who work for extra pocket money over winter or spring break. They’re unlikely to be experienced as a full-time hospitality worker would be and therefore don’t expect to be paid as much.
- Seasonal staff saves you money since you only hire them when you need them. If you hired extra full-time staff instead, your business would suffer loss in the long run, since, during low-season, the business expenses (add additional staff’s salaries to that) would be more than your revenue (fewer customers vs. more staff to pay).
- They allow your permanent staff to take some time off during the holidays. Instead of making them work overtime during the busy season, hire extra team members to cover for them.
Identify your needs
Plan the shifts the new recruits will need to work so that both you and they know what is expected of them. Take a look at your POS insights: if you find at a certain period have more customers on-site, then you’ll need to hire more service staff and possibly cooks. On the other hand, if at some point there’s a higher demand for delivery (probably during the winter months, especially if your business is in a colder region), you might consider hiring more delivery personnel.
Knowing your staff needs will help you realize what background and experience you’re asking for.
Plan ahead of time and team-up
Knowing what kind of seasonal staff you’ll be needing and when will allow you to prepare and list the open positions three or four months before you need them. This way, you’ll have time to attract their interest and go through the selection and hiring process.
Finding the right candidate
Host a job fair on campus, if possible, and conduct the interviews for there and then to save time. Alternatively, you can partner up with other local businesses and host a joint event. Otherwise, post your vacancy to restaurant-industry specific websites like Poached, Culinary Agents, go2HR, or RestaurantZone that will ensure your job posting attracts the right kind of candidates.
Ask your permanent staff if they know someone who would fit in and would be interested in seasonal work. Those who already work for you know what the job entails and can foresee someone being fit for it. Remember, always need run a background check on the future employees in order to avoid any misconduct on their part.
Make sure you state clearly in the job posting that this is a temporary position. Also, clearly refer to the role and what it involves so that you only attract candidates that are willing to go through with what you’re asking of them.
Seasonal staff has the same rights as full-time staff. Make sure you check your local regulations regarding unemployment and insurance, so you don’t get caught by surprise. Also, if you hire international talent, make sure you prepare ahead of time to sponsor the workers.
Attitude over aptitude?
Prefer seasonal staff with positive attitude and quick-learning to experience. You will have to train your new hires, so a positive attitude and willingness to learn is a plus.
Look for people who have excellent interpersonal skills. This will not only be an asset when they interact with customers, but it will also ensure they can communicate and collaborate with your already existing staff members.
Go for college students or recent graduates, or school teachers who are looking for some extra money during the holidays.
Training is key
- Keep in mind that you will have to train the new recruits, so make sure that you have time for that.
- Arranging the same starting date for all new hires will allow you to go through the process only once.
- Consider creating a YouTube channel featuring a list of videos that will train your staff on specific tasks (eg. addressing customers, taking orders, clearing tables, sanitizing tables, washing dishes, food safety, knife skills, etc). You can either make your own videos specific to your operation, or use other people’s videos. There is a small chance that you won’t find supporting videos to help you build the program. This way, your trainees will have the chance to go back to the videos and revise what they’ve been taught and, eventually, be more confident to perform their tasks. Head over to my Youtube channel, where you can find a variety of videos related to the food industry. This will save you time and labor cost, since you can reuse the videos over and over again.
- Make sure your managers are not seasonal, so that they know all the procedures and can be of valuable help during the training process.
- Blend permanent staff with new members during training. Then, the latter can have a reference and ask for help at all times.
Hired them, trained them. Now what?
After hiring and training new staff members, make sure they are satisfied with the work environment so that they don’t quit mid-season.
Make sure there is no rivalry between the old and new staff members. Also, be consistent in what you’re asking of your staff. Offer incentives and some days off- remember: seasonal staff is probably working when everyone else they know is on holiday, so maybe you should consider giving them some time off to participate in seasonal staff activities.
When the season is over, keep the contact information of valuable team members. This way, the next time you’ll be looking for seasonal staff, you will know exactly who to call. It’s also good to know that they are likely to earn some extra money during the next holiday season.
As Christmas is approaching, hiring seasonal staff may be a good idea for your business. It will increase your profit without compromising the quality of service. If you follow the steps mentioned above, you are most likely to smoothly run your business this holiday and offer your guests a dining experience they will desire to come back for, over and over again.
Curious to learn how I can help you and your restaurant business? Let’s talk!
Book a free 30-minute consultation. To learn more, visit my restaurant consulting or restaurant coaching services pages. To acquire new skills, visit our Online Culinary School and start making change.