Solutions from the ‘Renegade Cook’
The art of successfully turning tables takes on new meaning for restaurant operators dealing with an increasingly tough labor market. A complete reboot may be needed to retain the best cooks, but are operators ready to turn the tables on themselves and make it happen? The timing couldn’t be better, according to “Renegade Cook” author Matt Nelson, who brings 26 years of hospitality experience for a fresh perspective to the industry’s knottiest problem.
“Cooks matter and developing cooks matter, but back of house training is often overlooked,” asserts Nelson. “We need to change the mindset quickly or labor issues will worsen.”
That’s a huge concern, given a shrinking pool of qualified applicants, rising wages and an astounding 110 percent turnover rate among cooks. The estimated $2,200 needed to replace each cook represents a significant cost to operators, but because it’s fairly invisible, rarely gets the attention it deserves, says Nelson.
At the root of the turnover issue is changing expectations. No longer content to simply sign on for the next open job, cooks are increasingly selective about their work environment, career trajectory and opportunity to make a meaningful contribution. For operators, says Nelson, this represents an unprecedented opportunity to evolve.
“It’s a huge moment to reframe back of the house by treating them as professionals and training the heck out of them!” he exclaims.
“There’s no better way to rise above the competition than by attracting good people and giving them every reason to stay. You may never have to look for a manager outside your company again.”
Matt Nelson’s Top Tips for Transforming Turnover to Opportunity:
Don’t just ask questions, answer them.
Engage your applicant during the interview process and find out what they want to know, where they want to start and where they hope to go.
A warm welcome.
Present your new cook with a signed card from everyone on staff on starting day.
Don’t just fill the spot, but provide the comprehensive training your new cook deserves.
Use review sessions as an opportunity to build rapport, not just suggest improvements.
Learn from your cooks.
Encourage their contributions for operational improvement and you’ll receive a wealth of usable ideas.
Make a plan.
Set clear expectations for performance, promotion opportunities and check in regularly.
Recognize successes small and large, and make it fun to work at your operation.
Treat your staff like customers and give them reasons to stay.
Learn more at bearenegadecook.com