Claim Jumper builds brand to appeal to its employees

Avery Block is a brand manager for the Irvine, Calif.-based Claim Jumper restaurants, but she doesn’t work in marketing. Block is part of the casual-dining chain’s human resources team, and the brand she manages is Claim Jumper’s employment brand. Increasingly, restaurant operators are trying to build strong brands not just with customers but also with employees, to improve satisfaction, retention and even loyalty. The longer restaurants can hang on to employees, the more money they can save by reducing hiring and training expenses, says Block, who has spent more than half of her 13 years in the industry with Claim Jumper, which has grown to comprise 45 high-grossing restaurants.

What is an employment brand?

It’s an employee value proposition to attract and retain team members. It’s something that people can identify and adopt. People want to feel they have a purpose and they want to be a part of something.

How have you defined CJ’s brand?

The CJ brand is “commitment to the journey.” It represents and reflects the journey the company has been on the last 30 years and directs the company for the future, and it’s a journey for each team member. We’re committed to our guests and to service. We’re committed to our community, one another and to ourselves for individual growth and development. We want people to feel that when they come to Claim Jumper, they are on a journey.

So this is like a theme for employees?

It’s become our foundation—for onboarding, hiring materials and promotional materials. We use it with all employee communication. We made a point of putting it in all our communication pieces, in English and Spanish. We rolled it out in April. It’s a great tool for managers.

How can it help managers?

They make it a part of contests and employee incentives, such as our on-the-spot recognition cards, Eureka cards, which are given by supervisors who observe someone going above and beyond in their performance. Our managers know how important it is to keep employees happy. Our employee turnover dropped 15 percent in 2007 since we started putting an emphasis on retention.