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There's more than one way to the top.

A significant number of senior executives at top foodservice companies began their career as an entry level employee in the company. Yes, we're talking about bussers, preppers, and taco stuffers. Loyalty pays off.

Statistically, 7 in 10 Americans have worked in foodservice. Unfortunately, most of them considered their job just a stepping stone on a path to another career. It's too bad because our industry can be exciting, challenging and lucrative.

If you were advertising for future managers instead of entry-level bussers, how would your approach change? Consider how different the applicants might be if every position in your restaurant was part of a management development program. Sure, tables still need to be bussed and dishes need to be washed, but if a clear career path offers hope for advancement, it makes "getting there" part of the big picture.

Treat a dishwasher like a future partner? Why not? How did you start? Imagine the effect on morale. Not all employees will stick with you, but what are your chances if you don't make them an offer and provide them with an opportunity?

Here's a list to get you started:

  • Have a policy to promote from within. Start conveying your intentions from the very beginning. Your help wanted ads, job application, and interviewing techniques should all reflect your commitment to providing a career, not just a job.
  • Applications should include examples of career advancement paths. We've created a sample cover letter and application form to download and offer to all prospective employees.
  • Written job descriptions should include pay grade scales
  • Each job description should have written and demonstration tests. Employees should know exactly what skills they need to master to be promoted. Customizable job descriptions are available through our on-line product catalog.
  • Offer opportunities for employees to develop outside their job description. This may include financial support or scheduling priority for employees attending ESL classes, culinary courses at community college, or approved activities. This benefits you, too.
  • Have a formal Management Development Program. Help employees build an impressive resume that will advance them to the higher paying positions and career opportunities you offer.
  • Give regular performance evaluations with specific and meaningful feedback on how to improve skills. A customizable version is available through our on-line product catalog.
  • Pay above-market wages to attract and keep good people. It's more rewarding and lots more fun to work with winners. Count on your employees to help one another advance. After all, no one can do it alone.

To use a sports metaphor, your restaurant is your farm team. Every one of those World Champion Boston Red Sox players was on somebody's little league team. Start a successful foodservice career program and grow your own world championship foodservice team.

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