The softening economy may be causing résumés and job applications to pile up for some restaurant operators, but the influx of job seekers does not eliminate the need to thoroughly screen future employees, said Bill Angott, chief operating officer for Southfield, Mich.-based Team Schostak Family Restaurant, a quick-service franchisee. Team Schostak operates 59 Burger King and three Del Taco restaurants in Michigan. About one-third of the units are located in the Detroit metro area, with the rest in Lansing, Saginaw and scattered throughout the state. Angott joined Team Schostak 12 years ago after several years at another fast-food chain. He has been leading operations for the franchise company for the last five years. Earlier this year, Team Schostak tested an online screening program in 10 of its stores. The results were so positive that the program, which is by JobApp Network, is being rolled out to 21 more restaurants.
Why bother with online or telephone screening for applicants?
It’s true there are a lot of applicants now, but that means managers spend a lot of hours looking through them. Another issue: We have several restaurants in affluent areas, where it’s difficult to get people to apply.
How would an online process help increase applicants in those areas?
Kids today grow up with computers and iPods. If you’re not with that whole thing these days, you are behind the times. They think it’s cool to get online and fill out an application, and kids in those areas were more likely to do so. Restaurants that were getting two applications a month were getting 25 a month.
Can you tell if you are getting the right employees this way?
In the test stores we had 30 percent turnover of people hired through the program, versus a turnover of 80 percent in the nontested stores. The numbers were pretty compelling. Everyone wants to have a full staff and low turnover. And we are already doing better than other BKs in the [metro area] even before JobApp. Our turnover is 40 percent better than anyone else.
What else are you doing to retain employees?
We put a program in place three or four years ago. In hiring we require double interviews and reference checking. Then there is the training program and the leadership in the restaurants. There are a lot of factors. If you do all the right things, your retention will improve, which is really important in today’s economy.
Why is that?
If you want to have great operations, you have to have people that are around. With a 150-percent turnover rate among team members and 50 percent among managers, you are not going to get anywhere. You are preaching the same thing every 30 days because people are new. We needed to get our retention up so operations can improve—and they have.