3 Easy Steps to Keeping Employees Happy

December 1, 2016 • 4 min read

Welcome to the next installment of our video series, “Make It! Locally: Tips and Takeaways from Main Street.” In these short videos, our co-founder, Ro Prakash, visits local business owners and chats with them about the challenges they face. In each episode, Ro introduces you to a small business owner who talks about how he or she met the challenge by distilling the solutions into a few actionable business tips.

We’re especially pleased to present Ro’s conversation with Robin Zander, owner of Robin’s Cafe, because Townsquared sits across the street from Robin’s. We’ve had lots of his coffee and avocado toast, and enjoyed interacting with his employees, who are always ready with a smile. When it comes to hiring and retaining employees, we know firsthand he’s doing something right.

Hiring to Open Robin’s Cafe

Employee retention sounds like a conference session you might skip or sleep through, but the concept covers the most important part of any business: what keeps your employees coming to work each day?

When he sat down with Ro, Robin shared some lessons he’s learned in the months since he opened his business, earlier in 2016. Robin had worked in food service for a short time upon moving to San Francisco, but more than a decade passed between that experience and hiring a handful of people to help operate his new venture.

Robin’s hiring timeline was a more compressed one than most owners face—he planned and opened the cafe in about three weeks. Recruiting on that schedule included conducting at least one interview with a potential staff member while they drove to pick up supplies!

Fortunately, Robin’s involvement in the world of professional ballet provided a grasp of what makes a team tick.

“Being a part of someone’s daily routine is a chance to be a part of their daily habits, and to create an environment for those habits to grow,” he writes in a blog post.

Talking Employee Retention with Robin

Employees who stay with a business for several years actively contribute to the overall culture and provide a steady presence that builds customer relationships. Unfortunately, the restaurant industry has one of the highest employee turnover rates in any sector. And, that number has steadily risen in the past five years.

That level of churn can hurt your bottom line in several ways.

“An average coffee shop in the Bay Area right now spends more than $3,500 recruiting and training a single new staff member,” Robin says. “I actually think the cost of losing staff is astronomically more than that.”

To avoid that kind of loss, owners need to provide incentives that reveal how much they value their employees, Robin says. That often includes more than dollar signs.

So how can owners demonstrate they care about staff members in ways that don’t show on a paycheck?

1. Purpose
2. Growth potential
3. Responsibility

Watch the video to hear more about Robin’s experience, and how you can foster better connections with the people who make your business great. And check out the Townsquared YouTube channel for more small business advice!

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