6 Ways to Hire and Retain Quality Fast Food Staff Without Slashing Profit

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP
May 24 2016

If you’ve already had two people quit this week and its only Tuesday, you might be a fast food operator. If you spend more time sourcing talent and reading resumes than improving your operations, you might be a fast food operator. If you fall asleep at night worrying that you’ll be understaffed when hungry teenagers flood your location after the big game, you might be a fast food operator. This is what fast food hiring looks like.

That’s why one cost-cutting focus in the food industry is on improving employee acquisition and retention. Operators are looking to technology solutions to improve how they find and select potential employees, and they are implementing employee retention strategies designed to improve employee engagement and satisfaction without significantly increasing cost.


Finding and Keeping the Right Fast Food Employees

Operating a fast food restaurant requires that you keep your location well-staffed to anticipate the needs of your customers, but that doesn’t mean you have to hire the first person who applies. Online sourcing methods, such as online job boards and posting open positions on your website, make it easier than ever to collect a large pool of candidates.

You can trim large candidate pools down to the right hire with these 6 easy steps.


1. Focus on tenure when looking at experience and prior job history.

In order to cut labor costs in fast food, you want to hire employees who are likely to stick around and not contribute to high turnover costs. If an applicant has a long history of leaving fast food positions within only a couple of months, you might expect them to do the same at your location.


2. Filter applications by the quality of their references.

Candidates should be able to list at least two professional references from prior jobs. These references should include at least one recent manager or supervisor who can vouch for the applicant’s dependability and qualifications. Applicants that don’t list any references, or list only previous coworkers and not management, may be lying about their qualifications and should be marked as low priority.


3. Describe when and what kinds of background screenings you plan to conduct.

Ban-the-box laws prohibit many jurisdictions from asking about or investigating an applicant’s criminal history until after extending an offer of employment. However, many fast food companies still conduct at least basic criminal checks prior to hiring in order to satisfy hiring diligence and avoid legal repercussions.

Let applicants know early in the process if they might be subject to a background check after an offer of employment. If you don’t intend to hire an ex-offender for a particular position, being up front about the job’s qualifications will save everyone time. If you’re only screening for due diligence, let candidates know that a criminal record won’t bar them from employment.


4. Remember that it’s a candidate’s market.

If you want to find quality, loyal fast food workers who will help your organization cut labor costs, you’re going to have to give them good reasons to work for you. Since fast food tends to pay less than other positions, you have to meet other needs to get employees to stick around, such as job stability, an inclusive culture, and opportunities for growth and professional development.

You can also highlight the flexibility of scheduling, which can be a big plus for those of the Millennial generation and younger. Unless you’re exceptionally understaffed on a consistent basis, the ability to easily switch shifts when necessary can be a major draw for quality employees.


5. Invite staff and senior team members to observe applicant interviews.

A group interview can accomplish several positive goals: it gives your team a chance to weigh in on how well they think applicants will work within your established team; it provides you an opportunity to teach your staff something new, namely interviewing skills, which develops them professionally; and inclusion encourages the engagement and retention of your current employees, thus reducing turnover.


6. When you have quality staff, encourage them to stay.

Treating your employees well and improving retention doesn’t have to be expensive. Many employees value fair treatment, opportunities to take on more responsibility, and workplace engagement more than they care about earning big bucks. Provide your employees with chances to grow as a person, as a professional, and even within your community, and they will be more likely to stay.


InfoMart: Informing Better Hiring Decisions for More than 30 Years

Improving the quality of your workforce provides a measurable return on investment over the costs of constantly replacing employees. It also delivers long-term benefits such as repeat customers and improved organizational reputation.

A professional background screener like InfoMart can assist your fast food business in hiring the best quality employees available. We can conduct your due diligence background checks, speak with candidate references, process post-hire requirements like Form I-9 and E-Verify, manage your pre-adverse and adverse action processes, and more at an affordable price.

We’re happy to provide pricing and fast food establishment references upon request, so give us a call or get a free quote today.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record.

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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