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How do we get people who are disengaged, unhappy, and underpaid in the fast food industry to work in ambitious, creative, restaurants?

There is a serious labor shortage in many of the countries best food cities. While the industry is known for low pay and long hours it also offers rapid growth. Even hourly rates tend to be 1.5-2 times better than those of the fast food industry. As I see so many fast food strikes demanding higher wages happening literally a block from a restaurant desperate for staff, I wonder how we can attract some of those workers early on. Restaurant work is certainly hard requires sacrifice but it also offers immense opportunity in a creative and growing field.

Types of Answers can focus around marketing ideas, recruiting, economic development, government programs, compensation strategy, etc.

Thank you!

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    May 14 2014: Eli, There is a high turn over rate in the fast service places ... they are designed for the untrained and minimal aged such as high schoolers and the first job. Example: Place product in basket ... place basket in oil .. push button .. when alarm sounds take basket out of oil. At the register McD's was losing money because the kids could not count money, add, or subtract ... so they made a register that has pictures on the keys and the computer tells you what to give back for the amount given. Yep boring and designed for untrained and no thinking required.

    But we must go to the next step ... politics. Under the Obamacare law a work week is 30 hours. Many lost their jobs of 40 hours a week and are now employed at 29 or less hours. To make up the difference you must now work two or even three jobs to get the money and pay for the benefits you lost. The flexable hours of the fast food industry is one of the few places you can do this ...

    Unemployment is at 20 + percent and jobs offering 40 hours and benefits are few and limited to top spots.

    To get a better picture see the Nation Debit Clock and look at the right side and the employment rates and work force information ... these are government figures (note the sources) ... do not believe all you hear ... do the math and see if you can get 7% unemployed ....

    There is no labor shortage ... the government has made it a better deal to stay home and get "freebies" than to work. If my "freebies" exceed the amount I could make working ... why should I work.

    For those who do work .. it is a choice of what two or three jobs can I get that would mesh into a schedule to make up for the good paying 40 hour a week with benefits job I lost.

    Plus the cost of insurance went up not down .. even the welfare mentality will suffer from this law that Nancy Polsi said "Pass it and then we will read it".

    The answer to your question is find the cause and you will understand the effect.
    • May 15 2014: Robert why would you denigrate the basic input output of every job created? You seem to know very well how to put a basket in some fry oil and that's menial because. . . I don't get it. Because the employee follows directions they are and I don't want to put words in your reply but "stupid"? Symbols to aid decision making. I guess that means road signs are a dumb idea because even dumb people use them. You should rethink you poor business understanding of the food service industry. And along the way learn some respect for people who work.
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        May 15 2014: Dino, You completly overlooked the ... fist job ... high school ... minimal wage .... lack of true supervisorary skills in management ... very basic training ... etc ... To me the fact that the student could not get the order right or count change was a loud bell ringing a real warning. It was a statement about the educational process and failure to turn out a quality student.

        I notice you spoke to the effects ... but completely disregarded the cause. Why.

        Dino was this a shoot the messenger reply or do you really believe that all of these assists were not really necessary ... the investment was only a convience ... that if they were all taken away there would be no effect?

        Dino, I am sorry you do not undersatnd as you say .... perhaps if you read it again ...

        I have retired three times and have been part owner/investor in a few ventures ... I have seen people who were quick and resourceful and those who could not pour water out of a bucket with instructions on the bottom.

        Things are bad and getting worse .... our education system is broke and I personaly would not make any investments because of the current economy.

        However, since you feel that things are good and I am to harsh in my assessment ... then by all means step up and invest ... get into the game and get a first hand look at the real world. I am not calling anyone stupid .. I am saying there will be little investment in training in jobs that are extremely high turnover. It will remain .. watch a movie ... push the button ... listen for the bell ... etc ...

        I attempted to respond to the cause and the effect .... if you consider that disrespect ... so be it ... but I disagree. I call it analysis and problem solving.

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.
  • May 19 2014: Eli

    There is an old, old saying, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." You also cannot give someone ambition or drive. There is another fitting cliche, "Water will, as humans do, seeks its own level."
    What we need is for the government to forcibly take more tax money for a program that informs people of what they already know and, probably, are to lazy to go get it.
    It may be a good idea if you took your money and helped some aspiring fast food worker, but leave mine alone.
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    May 14 2014: Marketing ideas:

    We are in the service industry, and that really is the key word. SERVICE.
    Standards and pride for the food we eat are to be celebrated and encouraged in kids and the youth.

    * There is a very large spanish population working in both fast food and fine dining restaurants. They are a very strong workforce, especially the women, who are used to long days in the kitchen. But in most cases, there is a financial, legal and language barrier*


    Participating in local events, like being part of a fundraiser, charity or community activism event. Reaching minorities and exposing them to opportunities.
    Partnering with local public schools for "star chef cooking lessons", where kids get to learn techniques and are given job opportunities for school credit ( electives or home ec), through stages and apprenticeships.
    Culinary school scholarships for student achievements and 6 month externship with opportunity for full time employment.
  • May 13 2014: The better restaurants usually always need workers but they want experienced, knowledgeable, hard workers. You can get the knowledge to start with by going to school or working your way up. Many good chefs started as dish washers. Be aware you also need talent, even the waiters need to have the skills and presence because they are the face of the restaurants.
  • May 12 2014: I have heard of employee's starting on the food line and eventually owning or moving into their own fast food restaurant. The recent development of multiple culinary schools and classes being offered in community college might be a lead in for industry employee credibility. Offering a community course on the industry and day to day expectation or a class on working for a fast food chain and how to advance or own a restaurant might attract more ambitious persons. Owning a restaurant is about "order in order out" timing and a class in not just food preparation but getting it out of the kitchen onto a patrons table is an art and fast food does this the best. That might attract young professionals interested in cooking but who also may have more ambitious goals. Another idea, is that you will hire back any employee who had worked for the restaurant. Also offer 2 or 3 day 12 hour shifts which makes arranging for child care easier or school schedules. Rotate and schedule employees tasks so one person isn't solely responsible for the grill or trash pickup or cashier etc if not already being done. Review managers employee decisions and don't leave it up to the manager. Give the employee a grievance process and take their complaint serious.
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    May 12 2014: is there something where if you work in a fine restaurant at the end of the night after all the customers have gone home, the staff fixes a really good meal for themselves? Is that common, or only occasional? That might be an inducement?