Thursday, December 2, 2010

“Is my Restaurant Management Career doomed?”

I talk with restaurant managers daily who come to me for help in moving their career forward whose mindset  seems to be locked in “fear mode”  when it comes to the thinking about the future of the hospitality job market in our economy.
Relax guys and dolls! Latest reports show optimism when it comes to restaurant companies needing solid restaurant management talent. The National Restaurant Association reports in their latest “performance index”, which measures the health and out-look of the restaurant industry, a rise of .4% for September. The resulting index level was 100.7%, the strongest since Sept. of 2007. Restaurant operators are reporting same store sales gains of 44% in some cases during September. Many restaurants are reporting the first sales gains since 9/2007. Why the gains you ask? These gains are due to an improvement in “hiring conditions”.  And it’s during these improving economic conditions that sales improve in all segments of our industry. With increased sales comes increased need for talent.
We are now seeing the forward-looking hiring expectations index moving up steadily.  At Martin and Associates Restaurant Management Recruiting, we are extremely optimistic. Our partner clients are still seeking our help on a regular basis nationally. If you are a seasoned restaurant manager, and as the year comes to a close you are thinking about moving your career forward, we can help! For many of our clients, year- end only means that they are anticipating gearing up their hiring needs for new unit openings in the first quarter of the next year. Positions ranging from service managers, kitchen managers, assistant restaurant general managers and restaurant general managers abound and will continue to do so. Keep the faith hospitality professional! And when you faith wavers, let us be your restaurant management recruiting firm. We’re here to help.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Do you know why we do what we do at Martin & Associates People Source? Aside from “a lot of reasons” it’s because we help people! As a restaurant management recruiting firm, we deal with, in some cases, the worst commodity in the world because our commodity has a mind of its own.  It can be a difficult job. But every now and then, we all have a good day. And every now and then, I get inspired.
Today’s inspiration comes from my own team! Our daily focus is on helping people move their careers forward and helping our clients move their business forward. I am at my desk right now listening to my restaurant management recruiting team. They are busy on the phones calling potential candidates! I love that! I am inspired by a team of top notch restaurant management recruiters who are about the business of working definitively for their clients. I am inspired by the “energy” of people talking “restaurants” and the “restaurant business”.  I am inspired being part of a team of folks who find helping people to be a natural experience.
All restaurant management recruiting agencies are not created equal, just as all restaurant management recruiters are not created equal. I am proud to be affiliated with a team of genuine restaurant management professionals who love using their talent to help other managers achieve their goals. Our team shares over 75 years of restaurant management experience cumulatively. We have been in the day-in and day-out trenches of restaurant management.  Our experience actually allows us to relate to our candidates and to the issues they face daily. It also allows us to relate to the struggles of finding solid, experienced restaurant management talent that our clients face.  In short all of us on the Martin & Associates team are passionate about the restaurant business and we come to our office everyday to help people move forward in their career…and to help our clients move forward as well.
Inspiration comes in a number of ways. It’s all around us if we simply look and listen.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Employment or Employability??

An excellent thought from an article I was reading really caught my attention.  As a restaurant management  recruiter, when I deal with a restaurant management candidate, I often see candidates who are focused more on employment, than on employability…a term I borrow from the article. I work through that thought process everyday with candidates that I deal with,  but I wanted to spend a moment or two just thinking about that and how it applies to restaurant managers in the job hunt.
Reader, think about your past job searches. In hind sight were you more concerned about “employment” or “employability”. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to distinguish the difference.  As a whole, when restaurant managers come to Martin & Associates People Source for help in moving their career forward, most are focused on “employment”. This is quickly evident by a candidate’s motivation for finding a new company. Typically motivation centers on dissatisfaction with an employer; on no quality of life; on too little pay. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of these factors but…all too often these are the things that come out in an interview with a hiring manager. These things cause us to be more concerned about “employment”.
Being focused on “employability” will pay off in large dividends. But being “employable” takes thought and planning. Focusing on being employable will cause you to think about who you are. It will cause you to think about you specific skills. You will begin to analyze the Value, Benefit and Impact you bring to a new employer. Being focused on being employable will cause you to make notes on your talents and skills, to look under the surface of “being great with people” to see the solid, tangible skills you possess. These are the skills that matter to hiring managers. Such skills as food cost, labor cost and other controllable costs, being a skilled trainer or a great marketer will tell a hiring manger that you are employable.
The point is this…THINK about who you are when you are thinking about moving to a new company. THINK more about why you are employable…and less about why you want another  position. As professionals at RESTAURANT MANAGEMENT RECRUITING our team coaches candidates through these issues every day.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"They Offered me How Much...!"

Greetings fellow "restaurantees" and "retsaurantetes". I want to through out kudos to one of our team members. In dealing with one of his/her many restaurant management candidates recently, I was hearing a conversation during which the advice we have all heard often in our careers was administered once again..."you may have to take 2 steps backward to take 1 step forward". How many times have we breathed those words in an attempt to help a candidate put their career in perspective.
After hearing these words in passing, I was caused to think about the reality of that when it comes to restaurant managers searching for that next career step. My point is that as a member of a top restaurant management recruiting team I perceive the restaurant industry to be a wide open pasture of opportunity right now, despite economic commentary, I understand the value of looking at ones career goals as a pathway leading to a goal. On that pathway, one will encounter twists, turns, straights and switchbacks. But that is life, and that is the career path that most of us have walked. I want to focus in on the subject of taking that financial step order to better ones career.
Yes, I realize that no one in their right mind wants to have to take a step backwards in salary. But in some cases is it worth it? At Martin and Associates People Source, as a nationwide recruiting firm, it is our focus to help managers move their career forward. And we speak to talented restaurant managers everyday. Frankly despite being a talented in their field, some restaurant managers are simply stuck in a company with no career light at the end of the tunnel. In an effort to break free and to join a company that can actually offer them a future, they hang out the "help looking" sign and begin their search. After making their way successfully down the winding path that leads to a job offer, they are shocked to find that they are perceived as "not being worth what they thought" or at best they are not offered what they are currently making.
As a restaurant management recruiter, I finds myself often dispensing this restaurant management recruiting tip..."be ready to hear an offer for less money than you expected".
In most cases it has nothing to do with your talent. In most cases it simply comes down to the fact that companies are most often in control of the interview process. And more than ever in my career, I see companies being more and more conservative when it comes to watching their pennies and nickles. Also in this hiring economy, in many major markets restaurant management candidates can be at a disadvantage because of a candidate saturated market.
With all that being said, the willingness to take an offer of less money than expected or less than you are currently making may depend on a stronger opportunity for career advancement. When deciding to make a move to another concept, do your homework!
First of all, know why you want to leave your current position. What is your motivation? And by the way, there is nothing wrong with wanting to leave a company for more money. But whatever the reason, would you not agree that your next move should be a move forward? So, you should want to interview with companies that you know can offer to you what you consider to be an upward move. Right? Since you are an educated restaurant manager, then you know that you should do your homework on a company to make sure they can offer you what you desire. Then, whatever that means to you, weigh the future against the offer. The value of being able to move to that next career level "faster" may be greater than a couple of thousand dollars a year. Perhaps a better quality of life, or a shorter commute to work makes up for a week of vacation. Think about this too...your credentials may be strong but a lot of companies will also expect you to prove yourself for a short time before paying handing you a larger moneybag. But understand that companies know the value of proven talent and they will compensate justly. Don't feel like you are the only one who has or is going to experience this "shock" of the job search. Just be ready to match up the benefits of a new position with the salary offer. It's not that hard to do!
A a restaurant search firm, our team at Martin and Associates People Source serves the good of our clients and our candidates. If a new restaurant management position is in your future, we can help.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What to look for in Good... No Excellent Restaurant Management Recruiter

OK restaurant manager, or "hospitality management professional"...the inevitable happened and although our "organizer and chief" keeps telling us the economy is "improving...albeit slowly..." you now find yourself in the job search arena. You have years of experience. You know you are talented. You know there are restaurant management jobs nationwide. But because you are a loyal, dedicated, tenured employee you are facing the question "where do I start now". You realize that there are nationwide restaurant recruiting agencies, so start there. Skilled restaurant management recruiters are or "should be" the experts in the field, right? But the question remains, what do you look for in a recruiter to know that you are a dealing with a top restaurant recruiting agency?
Start with the basics. Homework a potential agency. When you search the term "restaurant management recruiter", you will get dozens of results. Begin right there, start looking at websites. Look for an agency that is seasoned in the business. What is their history? Who are their clients? From where does their experience come? But don't be lured  by the "face paint" of a company's flashy website. Anyone can add flashing lights and bells and whistles to their site. Let's go deeper. Look for profiles of their recruiting team. Hopefully they are proud enough of their team that they feel like advertising their talent. Look for a recruiter with experience in the restaurant management recruiting field. Look for a recruiter who is a seasoned veteran in the industry. Better yet, look for a restaurant management recruiter who can identify with you. Best of all, a recruiter who is a veteran restaurant manager.
Who better to identify with you than someone who knows what you do because they can say "been there...done that". Look for a recruiter who speaks your language, and who can talk "the restaurant business" with you, someone who realizes the day to day work load you carry as a restaurant manager. It is so much easier for you to be able to talk to someone who relates to you. When it comes to maximizing your search efforts you will be much better served by an agent who identifies with you one on one. 
Remember too that the best restaurant management recruiters are those who realize that they work for you, not just their clients. You should sense a genuine, caring desire to help you in your search from your recruiter. An excellent restaurant management recruiter will spend time with you. Too many candidates who call me have already been beaten up by an agency who has taken all of 5 minutes to get to know them, before telling them that they are sending (slamming) their resume to a dozen clients that will be interested in them. And oh..."be sure to call me when the client calls you!" Come on! Your recruiter should be interested in knowing you, your talents and your desires for your career. And you can't get this in a 5 minute phone call. Your recruiter should take the time to not only talk to you, but he should "listen" to you as well. Yes it is important for him to know what your skills are. But is equally important for him to know what motivates you, to know what kind of a concept you are looking for, and to know where you want to take your career. Your relationship with your recruiter should be a partnership not a master/servant relationship.
Which brings me to this point. A top restaurant management recruiter will be as much a coach as anything else. He will help guide you to his client companies with whom your background, talent and skills fit perfectly, and that can also deliver to you the future path you are looking for. A skilled, concerned recruiter will help you identify your skills and talents. They will guide you through the process of homeworking yourself and potential companies to make sure the match is perfect. And they will guide and council through the entire interview process.
Finally, your restaurant management recruiter should be results oriented. A good indicator of this is the frequency of conversations you have together. Look for that recruiter to call you frequently keeping you updates and inquiring about results on your end. Look for that recruiter that is examining all of his options on your behalf. He should leave no stone unturned.
Remember that working with a restaurant management recruiter is a hand in hand process that should result in a positive end for both parties...and for the client! All national restaurant recruiting agencies are not created equal. You deserve to work with top restaurant management recruiters, because your career is worth it!

Friday, September 3, 2010

"Secrets of Great Interviewing"

Hey ya'll...I love articles that talk about "Secrets of Interviewing". Please...what secrets?? Come on guys and gals, there are no secrets. Think about it, what goes into being successful?

Have you ever heard the phrase “knowledge is power”? Well it’s true!

So how does it apply to interviewing? Now I am a restaurant management recruiter, so I deal with restaurant professionals each day, many of whom have not interviewed for quite some time, and I fully understand the fear that comes with that. But let’s try and put some of those fears at ease…

Using the understanding that “knowledge is power” let’s think about what knowledge we need…really it’s about knowing 2 things.

#1) Know thyself… very simply…know who you are and what your skills are. In interviewing restaurant managers each week one overriding factor I detect is that most veteran restaurant managers do not “know who they are”. Why, because every day we do what we do out of habit. We never think about the functions we perform, we do them out of a “rhythm”, not out of a thought. Consequently, we probably really don’t know how we fit with a company and what specific talents we bring to them. So candidates…if you are preparing to interview…then start by KNOWING WHO YOU ARE!

Start by asking yourself who you are. What specific talents do you have? What motivates you to get out of bed each morning? What are you seeking out of your career? Ask yourself what Value, what Benefit, and what Impact do you bring to your next company?

In asking these questions, I mean you should actually answer them. Get your note pad opened up and begin to write down the answers to these questions. And don’t skimp on the answers! For example, restaurant managers if you are skilled at controlling food and labor costs, then list that and then below that, write down specific things that you do to keep these things in line. GET SPECIFIC. If you are seeking upward mobility in your career for example, make a note of this and make a note of what level of position you want to attain and the timeline you have given yourself to attain it. Think about the “specific value” you bring to your next company, and be able to deliver that in an interview. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER…knowledge about you that is!

#2) Know the company that you are talking to …do your research! In fact, do your research before you decide to interview with a company. Amazing as it sounds, candidates more often than not do not do this. In the restaurant management recruiting industry I am amazed at candidates who “think” they want to work for a company just because they like eating in their restaurants. Come On! My 2 year old likes eating at McDonalds, but she wouldn’t want to work there! No…do your homework on a company to determine if they fit with who you are…and if you fit who they are! And…know why they fit who you are.

For example, if a restaurant company looks for managers who are very skilled in controlling P&L’s, and you are skills are more driven toward guest service, you might not be a good fit for them. Or if a company does not allow quick movement upwards for their managers, and you are an aggressive grower, be aware that they might not fit you.

As a National Restaurant Recruiting Agency, I can tell you that in any interview there are basically 2 questions a hiring manager is looking to have answered…

Why do you want to work for me?

Why should I hire you?

And if you cannot answer these questions specifically and concisely, you are going to become the “weaker of the species” in the eyes of a hiring manager.

But, by taking time to know yourself and to know your potential company, your interview comfort will increase dramatically. You will be more calm, cool and collected…ready to bring together your “specific management talent” and “your specific excitement about a company” and in the eyes of a hiring manager you look like a superstar compared to everyone else!

Come on people…DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cold Call tips for Restaurant Management Recruiters

Some restaurant management recruiters, once they get past the register operator or the hostess and on to the manager, get this initial rush of excitement, "Oh boy! I've got a live body on the other line, I can't believe my luck!" Then the crash occurs, when they realize they weren't prepared, and think "now what do I say?" This crash happens more often than you think, I've even seen experienced recruiters get tripped up in what to tell a potential candidate once they get them on the phone to pique their interest.

The answer is simple; be prepared to talk about their business. Too many recruiters don't do enough homework on the company they're calling, and then are surprised when they don't have anything substantive to say. Every call can be warmed up if you are knowledgeable enough about their restaurant concept.
The best place to start, and that's the key word here, start, is by looking at the company website. Find out something about their operation…look at how what they do in their restaurants translates to the restaurant company you are calling for. As a former restaurant manager, use your knowledge to help you relate to what that manager does, in order to more comfortably speak to them. That will give you a starting point in talking shop with the potential restaurant management candidate, but don't stop there. KNOW THE COMPANY YOU ARE  SEARCHING FOR! Be ready with facts...not opinions... about the client that you can use in a quick conversation that would breed interest in a potential candidate. Too many restaurant management recruiters do not take the time to “think about how to explain the benefits” of their client to a potential candidate in a cold call.
Once you're armed with this information, you'll be more effective in getting the potential candidates attention. From there it's much easier to build rapport, as you'll be seen as an expert in their industry, as well as knowledgeable about their company. This alone will put you above and beyond the other 5 cold calling recruiters that called in the past week that have not done their homework.

An example of warming up the call using this information:
Hello Mister “Potential Candidate”, this is M.R. Recruiter with Martin and Associates. I'm an executive restaurant management recruiter, and work with “some of your competitors”. I am conducting a search in your area for a “???? Position” there and as a seasoned restaurant manager myself I know that your duties and knowledge translate well to my client. I admire your (style of operation…your company…etc.) Because of (use your knowledge of the company here) and I have found in the past that managers from your company have been of interest to (my client) because of (?).
There are three things you've done in that opening statement. #1) You've introduced yourself as an industry leader, #2) You've let them know you're working with their competition. Good restaurant managers always want to know about what their competitors are doing. And #3) It compliments them by calling their company one of the leaders in the industry.

Now that you've gotten their attention, turn it back to what you want to do. Go ahead and talk about your client and what you can do to help them or someone they know meet their career goals. ALWAYS ASK FOR A REFERRAL!!
 It's really quite simple.

Finally, recruiters slow down! Take time to plan, think and then execute your cold call searches.
Then, don’t rush through a call. Slow down long enough to connect with a potential candidate.