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August 7, 2015 Staff

10 Tips For Hiring a New Food Truck Employee

It’s only in the smallest and most unique operations, like hot dog stands an pastry carts, that a mobile food vendor will be able to run their unit completely by themselves or just with whatever friend/partner they’re starting out with. And if you’re actually successful and last for the long-run, then there’s no avoiding it: sooner or later, you WILL have to hire someone. As simple as the particular role may be, there are always things to be aware of and fully consider in choosing the person or persons to better fill your team… without also destroying it. Here are some tips that you can use to not only do it properly but also find your ideal employee.

1. Determine Your Exact Employee Needs

Besides daily operations in the ‘front of house’ (window service) and ‘back of house’ (both cooking the line to order and wherever the food is prepped BEFOREHAND), make sure to not only take all your hours of operation into consideration, but whether you want a select 1-2 people for all of it or a larger team which, though getting smaller shifts each, can be interchanged if needed (always good to have someone on call in unexpected situations). Also consider events and other extra gigs which will likely require at LEAST one extra person on-hand at the time. Now that one has their idea of what positions need filling…

2. Get the Word Out

Nothing like actually finding a good employee through someone you actually know, basically an automatic and positive reference, as opposed to some random coming from who knows where. Start out by asking friends, family, and past co-workers if they know anyone interested to start looking into; if that doesn’t yield enough solid results, post the desire to find your new Team Members through Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media. Though seemingly broad, only those into and excited about your particular business, or just food trucks in general, are likely to see it initially, raking in the kind of working candidate you may want best!

3. Find the Right Job Site

It is entirely likely one still hasn’t found enough ideal employees by now, in which case you’ll need to broaden your reach, which means posting Job Ads. There are dozens of different sites with different groups of potential hires searching their listings, some of which require payment but offer a complete and focused help to your ad, while others are great free resources, but then bring in that ‘wider audience’ which has its own group of positive and negatives to sift through. Great sites to consider starting with are Mobile Cuisine, Craigslist, Indeed, and LinkedIn.

4. Make a Scary Ad

No matter how hurting you may be for employees, you never want to leave open the possibility for a poor worker to slide in because they just meet the requirements you set online; even if they AREN’T hired, you still have to end up wasting time on an interview. So don’t be afraid to really put down EVERYTHING you want and need, let them know exactly what kind of hours, workload, punctuality, EXPERIENCE, and other requirements are needed. Be strong, and you’ll get a candidate pool much richer in stronger, confident potentials.

5. Offer Incentives

So as not to collide with the previous step, make sure that any announcement of this is done either in the interview or after hiring. By offering some sort of long-term benefits, like a guarantee of raise after certain periods, more hours, management positions upon growth, share of stock, etc, one can better ensure the retention of your good employee over the years as oppose to having to worry about the frequent turnover the food industry is so well-known for.

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6. Focus on Strong Qualities

Punctuality, Experience, Service-Oriented, Multi-Tasking skills, and Self-Sufficiency area all points to start focusing on; if there’s any doubt for even one of these, or other extra qualities you find, toss their names into the ‘only consider if we don’t have any other choice’ pile.

7. Obey the Law!

DO make sure you double check what you are and aren’t allowed to ask in an interview, just for your own safety

8. Check References

If they’re not referred by someone you know, do double check any references your ‘top 10,’ or whatever top number, choices have. Likely they’ll all say the same thing, but one never knows what past employer might have a little ‘extra’ to say about a certain one. Can certainly help narrow down, or confirm good choices.

StrEAT_05-2014-med9. Fit Your Feel

At the end of the day, this is all about finding employees that work best for YOU. What are the feelings and goals of your truck, super casual sandwich bros or locally organic ‘hipsters,’ and do they fit in with what you want your company to be and grow into? Can you see yourself working side by side with this person five days a week for years on end, cuz that’s what may happen. That doesn’t mean just pick the one person you feel like talking over a drink with; still need to ensure they can do the job and not practice any ‘unsavory habits,’ you know like theft. But the final decision is up to YOU, and only YOU know what’s best for YOU… you.

10. Keep Your Expectations

We’ve already touched on letting potential employees know what to expect, as well as offering incentives. It is imperative that, after this, you actually do your best to make sure any expectations in hours and wage that were stated can actually be kept, barring bad employees or other uncontrolled situations. And if there are certain things that can’t be guaranteed, DON’T BRING THEM UP! Do not let a new employee come to expect a certain schedule or living wage if you have absolutely no idea it will even happen; believe me when I say, it will only create an environment of frustration and annoyance when the employee has to spend time confronting you on something that felt almost promised only to have you then talk down to them. Be upfront and honest from the beginning, let them KNOW what minimum hours to expect and that it could be a while before it picks up, if that is indeed the situation, so they aren’t caught unawares and can properly prepare themselves for what is to come.

With luck, you can use these easy guidelines to not only find a fantastic team member, or members, to start off your mobile adventure, but strong partners that will grow with the truck to become pivotal managers and other overseers once you make it big.

TrainYourEmployeesSome Other Helpful Resources

Mobile-Cuisine: 3 Tips for Hiring Your First Food Truck Employee

For Dummies: Determining Your Food Truck Staffing Needs

FoodTruckr: Hire Employees for Your Truck

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