A guide to building a stellar staff: determining your needs

Finding and hiring a world-class team sets the stage for long-term success. In this 5-part series, we’ll discuss the latest techniques, tips, and protocols that leave our clients with a pool of incredible candidates.

In any business, finding and hiring the “right” people is a key differentiator between those entrepreneurs who achieve success and those who don’t.

But the importance of this factor is multiplied dramatically in the restaurant industry, precisely because those same employees quickly become the face of your business during their frequent interactions with customers.

So now that you’ve defined your culture and purpose, it’s time to staff your restaurant with top-notch employees that fit your concept.

Determine Your Staffing Needs

Before you can seek out new hires, you’ll need to determine what your staffing needs are. If can be helpful to consider the following factors:

  • What are your projected sales? Essentially, how much of your revenue can be invested in staffing?
  • What are your hours of operation? If you’re only open for dinner, your staffing needs will vary drastically from those establishments requiring coverage twelve or more hours per day.
  • Do you have seasonal concerns? Consider how holiday events and patio seating can affect your staffing needs.
  • What are your busiest times of the day? In some restaurants, breakfast coverage may actually require higher staff counts than lunch and dinner.

If you’ve been in business for a while, this is where data comes into play and can be extremely useful. You can look back over the past year’s sales, receipts, number of employees on the payroll during certain seasons, etc. (Homebase can help with this process through it’s labor reporting, which will allow you to view your labor costs as a % of sales over any time period.)

But, if you’re just starting out, you won’t have that data to rely on. Instead, do your best to estimate your figures, some of which will be found in a well-crafted and detailed business plan, and be ready to adjust frequently. That means, the first year of operation, you’ll likely be reviewing and adjusting numbers monthly.

Embrace the Process

Finding the right staff can be a chore for any bar, restaurant, or store owner/operator. Time is a precious commodity and it’s challenging to dedicate the necessary attention to the process. Plus, it can be overwhelming for anyone to know where to even begin the process of finding the best talent.


Carrie Luxem is the founder and President of Restaurant HR Group, a full-service HR group based in Chicago, IL. Carrie will be sharing her wisdom from over 15 years in restaurant human resources through guest-posts on the Homebase blog.

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