Employee Crisis in America

My goal is to teach restaurant owners to focus on Eight Basic Fundamentals that lead to financial independence and a better life. Todays blog focuses on Fundamentals #3, Build a Better Team.

Do you believe that GOOD people are HARD to find?

Well - It’s TRUE – Good People ARE Hard to find, when we need them.

As of July 2018. There were slightly more than 327 Million People living in America. When we subtract the people under 16 and the people over 65, this leaves us with about 130 Million people who make up the American workforce. That means that roughly 40% of the population is supporting the other 60%. Interesting.

Today we have a robust economy and the BEST employment market in the history of America since 1969. As of April 2019, the unemployment rate is just over 3% percent. The lowest in my lifetime.

If you are looking for people, you are not alone. 99% of the businesses in America have a help wanted sign in their window. Virtually anyone can find a job in about 10 minutes.

If you can’t find a job in this economy TODAY – it’s your own damn fault.

Now, Let’s apply this concept to the restaurant business. This means that 97% of all people who are willing OR are INTERESTED in working in a restaurant have a job and only 3% of the restaurant employee market - is Looking For A Job - Maybe. Why Maybe? Because anyone who is out of work - is most likely on unemployment, AND they have NO interest in working. Another way to say that is – they are going to sit at home and collect unemployment for as long as they can, why wouldn’t they.

Here’s a fun example:

We got an application the other day, and under the question that asks – Why did you leave this job. Here’s what they put for the three jobs they listed.

  • Job #1 – Bad Manager, they didn’t like their management

  • Job #2 - disagreement with the owner

  • Job #3 – Fired

What does this tell you? Here’s what it tells me. Either this guy has had a really bad run of luck, or he’s an unemployable loser. Would you call this guy in for an interview? Would you hire him? Are you desperate enough to hire this guy – Yet?

I know one thing about this guy – he’s honest, who in their right mind would put that on an application? It is suicide. There is NO WAY he is going to get a job. Is there? Not in my place, but maybe he doesn’t really want a job. Maybe he wants to stay on unemployment?

Think about it. The maximum Unemployment benefit in Iowa is $501 a week for 26 weeks.

That’s $13,026. That works out to $12.50 per hour for 40 hours and all you have to do is apply for two jobs a week, online. Remember the key word here is APPLY. You don’t have to go to an interview, AND you don’t have to accept the job. You just have to apply.

We have two big problems when it comes to hiring people.

  1. The government hand out program – unemployment.

  2. A robust economy with 3% unemployment.

Our biggest competitor for employees at the bottom of the food chain is the government. Between unemployment and disability, who needs to work, especially for $10 or $12 per hour.

This week I got a pretty good application, so I called the guy, he answered on the 6th ring. I told him who I was and that I would like to talk to him about the job if he had time, He hung up on me. I tried to call him back and he didn’t answer. Them I sent him an email and he didn’t respond. Amazing! Im convinced he doesn’t want to work, he's just keeping the state happy.

Employee Turnover.

Did you know that the national average for turnover in a restaurant is 80% per year. Well it is. Let’s Imagine that you have 30 Employees working in your restaurant. Let’s imagine that your restaurant fits the national average of 80% turnover. If you have 30 employees and an 80% Turnover rate. That means that 24 people will either quit or be fired in the next 12 months. That means you will need to hire 24 NEW people in the next year, just to maintain your current staff level.

This means you will need to hire – TWO NEW PEOPLE EVERY MONTH!


I know what you are saying, you are saying that you are a better operator than most, so your turnover is only half the national average. OK then - Let’s call it 40%. If that is true, you still need to replace 12 people in the next year. That’s about ONE - NEW Person EVERY MONTH!

The biggest reason for employee turnover is not bad working conditions or low pay - The biggest reason for turnover is - HIRING THE WRONG PEOPLE - AND NOT SETTING EXPECTATIONS. WOW? Huh! Who Knew..?

80% of people want part time or short term employment:

80% of the people who apply for a job in the restaurant business today are looking for either part time or short time employment. 80% of the people who apply for a job are willing to work in our business, but only until something better comes along. These people just want a J.O.B. with good company that offers good wages, good benefits and fair working conditions.

14% of people want to DO THE WORK and make a contribution. They want to work at a cool place that appreciates their skills.

5% want to be in the restaurant business as a long term career.

Only 5% of the people want to make a real contribution and move the ball forward.

These are the people that I want. This is only one out of twenty people. This is a very small group. This is why I am always looking for great people.

The Top 1% - want to be the BEST in the World!

Don’t get too excited because - you are not getting these people unless you are one of the TOP 1% OF AWESOME PLACES TO WORK.

NOW HEAR THIS - Your restaurant must appeal to the level of person that you are looking for. If you are an average restaurant, you will appeal to the 80% who just want a job.

If your restaurant is doing cool stuff and making a difference, you will appeal to the people who want to do cool work and make a difference. If your restaurant offers an opportunity for REAL GROWTH and EXPERIENCE you will attract the people who are looking for that.

I don’t know about you, but I only want to hire people who are looking for a FULL TIME JOB.

PEOPLE who want to be in the restaurant business as a long term career. Then, I want to refine my search to people who want to do COOL work AND have the brains and interest to KICK ASS and move the ball forward.

Now that Ladies & Gentlemen is a very small group. People who want to be in the restaurant business as a full time career and people who also want to kick ass and move the ball forward. Whew – Good Luck with that!

Now, Let’s take a look at what that might look like. I believe, that on any given week, 52 weeks a year ONLY 3% of the people who would be interested in working in a restaurant are actively looking for a job. And, I believe that only the top 5% of those job seekers are worth hiring. That’s is the TOP 5% of the 3% who are unemployed.

That means that for every 20 applications we get only ONE will fit our criteria and get invited to audition and eventually hired. THEN – As you are well aware – most of those people will not make it through training. They will wash out for one reason or another. I believe that for every person that we hire, only 10% of them make it to 90-days of employment.

Here’s what that means. We hire the top 5% of the available market. That’s one out of 20. And only 10% make it through training to the 90-day point. That’s only ONE person out of every 200 applications. That is a razor thin margin. That is why we must be looking for GOOD people 52 weeks a year!

We now know that we need to hire at least one new person every month for the rest of our lives. If we continue to do what we have always done, we will continue to get what we have always gotten. So, We gotta get out of the SHALLOW end of the pool. We have to THINK – Bigger & Smarter. We must take a long term approach. We must build a RECRUITING and HIRING SYSTEM.


Most people write job descriptions, this is old school Today we need to write PEOPLE descriptions. We need to describe the PEOPLE we are looking for.

Then, we need to go beat the bushes to find those people.

Do This - Write it down on paper. Then, create an ad that tells the world what your ideal candidate looks like. Then, be sure to share this information with the people who do the interviews and the hiring. You know – the managers.

THEN, be sure to hire people who fit that criteria. This sounds really simple – but nobody is doing this simple little thing – are they? This is the BIGGEST mistake that restaurant owners and managers make. They don’t know who they are looking for and end up hiring the wrong people. This happens because we are desperate and have a SHORT TERM mindset. We just need to just fill the hole – so we hire the first warm body – the first person who is available – TODAY!

When we know WHO we are looking for - TELL THE WORLD!



I see two Ways TO increase our chances?

  1. Advertise, Market & Recruit EVERY WEEK – 52 weeks a year.

  2. Tap into the 97% who already have a job.

I believe in the rule of thirds. Which means - ONE THIRD of the people WHO HAVE A JOB today - are just going through the motions and are taking the path of least resistance. They will stay where they are until something changes or they get kicked out. This is where the 3% unemployment folks come from and why they are such a bad bet as new employees.

Think about it, there is a reason that someone doesn’t have a job in the greatest economy in the history of the world, and that reason is usually - they suck at working! They are un-emploable!

The SECOND THIRD of the people who have jobs - LOVE or like their jobs and are not interested in changing, at least for now. Things change and these are great people for you to know AND network with, so when they consider a change, they think of you.

This bring us to the last THIRD of the people. This third HATES or at least dis-likes their jobs and may be interested in changing. People hate or dislike their jobs for many reasons.

Some of them are looking for a BETTER opportunity. Some people are NOT being rewarded properly. Some people have a BAD boss who doesn’t appreciate them.


Way #1 - Advertise

As I’ve already mentioned, Advertise & Market to the type of person you are looking for.

This may sound like a desperate cry for help, but it’s doesn’t have to be. It all depends on HOW you market the idea. The US Marines are ALWAYS looking for a FEW Good Men. Athletic Coaches and General Managers of professional sports teams are ALWAYS looking for their next Great Player and Super Star.

Your marketing message must appeal to the person you are looking for, if you are looking for GREAT PEOPLE Say It! Tell them that you are looking for a STAR! Don’t mince words, be specific, be direct, be honest. Tell them you are looking for FULL TIME PEOPLE who want to be in the restaurant business as a CAREER. Tell them that you have a Culture of Excellence where WINNERS Thrive! Tell them WHO you are and why you are the best choice for them!

Way #2: Networking: Tell everybody you know - I am looking for a Restaurant Super Star.

This INCLUDES - your purveyors, employees and customers. This involves getting serious and being creative. The question is

What are you doing to find great people to help you improve your restaurant? HOW CAN YOU DO THAT – BETTER?

We must get our people involved. Think about your managers – are they great recruiters?

What about your cooks, bartenders and waiters, can they help you find the next super star.

Do your people even know you need a new player? Do you offer a reward for finding the next great player? What about your CUSTOMERS? I think it’s great to tell your customers that you are looking for a Restaurant Super Star. I also see this as a great way to let your customers know that you are really serious about THEM! Describe the person that you are looking for - When your customers know that you only hire the best of the best of the best, they will love you even more.

The whole point of this Pep Talk is - Hiring and Staffing your restaurant is a FULL-TIME JOB - 52 WEEKS A YEAR!

I hope these ideas help you understand that Great People ARE hard to find and that you need to be proactive and in recruiting mode every day of the year!

My Name is Peter Harman, I am the Food Guru. My goal is to start a restaurant revolution where every restaurant owner in America has the information they need to create financial freedom and live the life of their dreams.

I have written a book called Restauranting 101, it focuses on Eight Basic Fundamentals that will propel your restaurant into the top 5% of all restaurants. Restauranting 101 has the power to change your life and it's available on Amazon today.

I encourage you to read it, and if you really like it, buy a few extra copies for your key people.

These eight basic fundamentals have helped me and my teams accomplish amazing results, I’m sure it will help you and your people too.

If you have any questions or comments or an idea for a future podcast or blog post, please send me an email at foodguru@foodguru.comI would love to hear from you.

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