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Raising-Cane-s-AJ-Kumaran-Conference.jpg Raising Cane's
AJ Kumaran, co-CEO and chief operating officer of Raising Cane's, speaks at the employee gathering earlier this month in Dallas, where he outlined new team member benefits.

Raising Cane’s expands benefits, including $10K for 1st-time-home-closing costs

Co-CEO AJ Kumaran says restaurant brand growth requires new ways of keeping top talent

Raising Cane’s Restaurants LLC has added new employee benefits to help recruit and retain talent, including offering a $10,000 closing-costs payment for restaurant leaders purchasing their first home, the company has announced.

The Baton Rouge, La.-based chicken-fingers brand, which has 700 quick-service restaurants and plans to add about 100 this year, unveiled the new benefits during a gathering this month of 2,300 employees, executives and vendors in Dallas, said AJ Kumaran, the company co-CEO and chief operating officer.

Entering new markets, like a flagship store in New York City’s Time Square that is scheduled to open June 21, requires a pipeline of restaurant leaders, Kumaran said.

“We need not only just best of the best people,” Kumaran said in an interview. “We need programs to be not only attracting them but training them developing them and retaining them in our business — and that only happens if everyone has got a solid career path.”

Kumaran added that “we want everyone to pursue their dream of buying their first home” and the response to the $10,000 offer was “incredible.” It is available to restaurant partner or restaurant leader levels.

“It was really touching for me personally to be able to deliver that message,” he said. “We have several people already going through it.”

Kumaran said Raising Cane’s, which has all company-owned units now, is going through an aggressive growth phase, added 14 new markets over the next 12 months.

To facilitate those new markets, he added, “we have announced a new traveling trainer program.

“This caters to everybody,” Kumaran added. “There are people who just want to travel and be in different place.”

For example, the first group of 10 has been selected for New York City to support the brand’s launch there. The trainers get rent-free payments for three to six months in addition to other pay additions.

Other benefits announced this month included weekly pay for all employees and all hourly managers moving to $18 per hour minimum pay.

Kumaran said new-position hourly crew members now have an opportunity to earn up to $3 per hour in extra compensation through a zone-based training program.

“The reality is everyone wants a career and everyone wants to get paid well. If you cut through all the noise, that's just nuts and bolts of our business,” he said.

Raising Cane’s has announced several new positions, both for the hourly crew member level and the hourly manager and salary manager level.

“It provides managers great, well-trained crew members who are being retained by our business instead of constantly getting turned over,” he added.

Four new positions include a kitchen-zone specialist, a service specialist, a safety specialist and a certified trainer. “We know training is going to be the linchpin for our future,” he said.

“Our trainers, who are training any crew member in any of our restaurants will immediately earn $2 extra per hour on top of their wages while they're training a crew member, which is significant if you think about it for an average wage of you know $15 this is a big number,” he said. “We heard nothing but pure excitement.”

The company is also increasing month incentives for salaried leaders by about 25%.

Raising Cane’s at the start of the pandemic announced its restaurant partner program. “In 2022, we have paid $5.2 million in long-term incentives,” Kumaran said. “That's on top of salary and bonuses. This is just long-term incentive for those 45 people who are in the program.”

Raising Cane’s also offers doctor concierge services and financial planners to some managers.

“I think we will continue to attract the great talent,” Kumaran said, “but I think these structured training development and incentive programs would incent people to go through those training and stick to it for a longer term.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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