IHOP franchisee employs post-hiring surveys to get off turnover ‘treadmill’

IHOP franchisee employs post-hiring surveys to get off turnover ‘treadmill’

ATLANTA —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

“It’s as if you were a fly on a wall, getting a look at a new employee’s life,” said Joe Scripture, president of Southern Restaurant Management, an 11-unit IHOP group he operates with partner Jose Rodriguez in the metropolitan Atlanta area. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

By confidentially learning employees’ candid opinions about their hiring experience within 30 days of employment, SRM’s restaurant managers have been able to adjust training and orientation methods and reduce turnover by 31 percent at five IHOPs in a pilot program, Scripture said. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

Glendale, Calif.-based IHOP Corp. [3], franchisor of more than 1,300 breakfast specialty family-dining restaurants, has taken note of SRM’s worker retention successes and is sharing the online-survey method with other franchisees, said John Isbell, IHOP’s director of training and development. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

Scripture and Rodriguez have expanded the post-hiring surveys to all 11 of their restaurants. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

With predictions calling for the labor market to continue shrinking as baby boomers retire and the number of 16-to 24-year-olds in the population declines, retention of employees is becoming a more critical goal for restaurant operators. Measuring employee satisfaction early is one way to stay alert to problems that can lead to turnover, operators and human resource professionals agree. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

“There’s a pending crisis for the restaurant industry and anybody hiring a nonexempt or hourly workforce,” said Kevin [4] Hensley, a senior vice president in the Atlanta office of New York-based Bernard Hodes Group, a global employee recruitment firm. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

To help industries monitor the thoughts and opinions of workers, the Hodes Group created an online assessment tool called QTrac. The two-year-old program, used by about 20 companies in other industries, mostly in finance and retailing, measures the attitudes and perceptions of newly hired workers. That data can be obtained at regular intervals—every 30, 60, 90 and 180 days—to gauge how employees are doing. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

“When you consider the cost of finding people all over again, the cost to hire and train, then retention is the ultimate goal with QTrac,” Hensley said. “Ultimately the goal at the end of the day is to get the voice of the employee.” —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

Scripture was the first restaurant operator to use the QTrac program, and his company’s turnover reduction has meant that other IHOP franchisees may well choose to emulate his success. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

“Joe understands that his people are the reason he is successful, and he is doing everything he can to hire right, train them well and retain them,” IHOP’s Isbell said. “He is a good example of our franchisees being out in the forefront of testing new technology and processes to be successful.” —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

While the Hodes Group estimates that businesses are most likely to lose new employees within their first 90 days on the job, Scripture suspects that the decision to quit occurs much earlier in restaurants, perhaps within the first two weeks. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

New hires in his restaurants are offered the survey within 10 days of starting work. They answer a 60-question survey using computers in the restaurants. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

Employees click on a screen icon that takes them to a site hosted by QTrac. The survey never asks for their names. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

The standard survey is 30 questions, but Scripture customized his to learn more specifics about employees’ opinions about the hiring and training process. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

“We got feedback we had never had before—in aggregate,” Scripture said. “Usually when people get hired and then leave, we’re left sometimes scratching our heads as to why.” —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

The survey data revealed some weakness in the employee orientation process and areas where managers could make improvements, he said. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

Southern Restaurant Management started surveying employees early last year. To measure their progress, the company looked at the 2005 turnover rates for workers in the same IHOP branches. Turnover ranged from 103 percent to 201 percent, with an average rate of 153 percent for the year. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

After the surveys were initiated, the average rate for the restaurants in the pilot project fell to 119 percent for 2006, and those stores are on track to trim turnover to less than 100 percent for 2007, Scripture estimated. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

“A curious thing happens: What you measure tends to improve,” he said. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

Managers are more focused now on “re-recruiting” employees by reminding them why they were hired and more frequently showing appreciation for them, he said. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

“The management team knows we were getting feedback, and they became more thoughtful in how they appreciate new hires, making sure their training is good, and taking the time to debrief them—‘How’s this week going?’ ‘How’s today going?’ These are things that matter to a new hire.” —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

Lowering turnover also had an impact on net income, Scripture said. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

“IHOP estimates the annual cost of turnover per each location is $60,000 when you’re on a hiring treadmill—hiring, training, losing,” he said. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

“You have to get off that tread-mill, not only for the sake of service and food quality, but to improve the bottom line.” —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

Scripture estimates his new-hire costs to be about $3,000 per employee. —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.

“We did more sales in 2006 than in 2005,” he said. “We hired 89 people, which was fewer than we hired in 2005, to do more sales. We got off that treadmill.” —Employing a tactic that peers nationwide could readily borrow, an IHOP franchisee here has dramatically reduced worker turnover by using anonymous online surveys to find out what newly hired employees are thinking.