Success at The Hut

20/02/2014 - 13:42
Jens Hofma, chief executive officer at Pizza Hut, believes the key to success is through communication and managing your part time workers efficiently.

What is your recruitment strategy at Pizza Hut?

We are pretty open in terms of recruitment and we look for attitude as opposed to experience and skills. We look out for people who are outgoing, keen to work in a team, keen to build a career for themselves in hospitality, and not just see it as a job on the side, but something where they can develop and access higher management skills over time. There are a number of criteria, but essentially we are talking to a broad group of people and we assess them on attitude and the potential we think they have for growth within our business.

Is there a lot of opportunity out there for part time workers?

Recruitment hasn’t been too difficult in recent years considering we have seen higher levels of unemployment and have seen more applicants for any given position. I think the challenge for the restaurant sector is to make clear that hospitality can be a career, rather than just a bit of money on the side. Unlike many other sectors in business, hospitality is the sector where you can start at the bottom and finish at the top. I don’t know many others industry sectors that are so upwardly mobile as the restaurant sector is. We have many people who have worked in our business who started pot washing and are now on a good salary running a restaurant. Again, I can’t think of many other business sectors where that is a frequent occurrence. One thing that we as a business and a sector still need to communicate much better is the huge opportunity that a job as a server or a back of house team member in a restaurant actually represents if you really want to drive yourself.

How do you communicate that?

We communicate this the moment somebody joins us. Even before they join us, we have a recruitment website that we are very proud of that has lots of testimonials where people have made their way up through our business. Anyone who goes onto our website will get that message loud and clear. As part of the induction that every team members get when they join the business, we discuss the opportunities; whether it be leadership, or even becoming an area or regional manager. So all of our communication is up front. We also do a lot of talent spotting internally. I personally review the performance of every single restaurant manager twice a year; 300 reviews twice a year. That is the level of focus we have in terms of restaurant manager capability and their roles. We also expect each restaurant manager to apply the same scrutiny to their teams, looking at who is promotable and who can go to the next level, who has that drive. We are constantly on the look out for people who have leadership and management potential.

Not only is the restaurant sector one where there is a huge amount of opportunities and capabilities. The jobs that people end up doing at the age of 22 and 23 are just absolutely amazing. We have 23 to 24 year olds who are managers and who are leading a team of 20 people.

I get frustrated sometimes that the restaurant sector isn’t seen as a more prominent breeding ground for talent.

I also think we still have an image problem on the employment market. There is still this attitude of ‘I’m a university graduate and isn’t it terrible because I am working in a restaurant’.

To start your career as a server in a restaurant could be a very promising start to a very successful career.

As an industry, what can we do to change this attitude?

It’s about engaging with the broader public. We don’t have that much of a voice as an industry at the moment, but I do think it is starting to develop. There are things like the Casual Dining show taking place this year and a number of networks that are starting to develop a voice for the industry. But compared to many other business sectors, we are very fragmented. There are lots of different players in the restaurant industry, whereas if you are in the supermarket business, there are two or three players with a very large voice. We do need to develop more of a voice and make sure we are taken more seriously as we are a major creator of employment, and not just employment, but equal opportunities in life.

Provide three top tips on managing part time workers

1.    Get them to engage with your organisation and what this stands for, despite the fact that they may only be working for you 20 hours a week. It’s about getting people to understand what the higher purpose is behind the job they are doing on a day to day basis.

2.    Ongoing communication is important to help people to feel involved in the life of the business. This happens on restaurant level. The whole team comes together before every shift begins for a ‘huddle’. This gives them an update on how the restaurant is doing and defines what the objectives are for the shift. At the end of the shift is ‘check out’ where every team member gets feedback on that shift and what they need to be focusing on in the next shift. This helps people to focus, rather than float in and out of the business.

3. Skill building is another important factor.  How do you provide people with the basic skills of hospitality, and how do you make it very clear what is expected of them in terms of level of service, standards and back of house standards?

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