Everyone wants a winning team—especially now when many restaurant franchises are having challenges with staffing quality candidates. But what many people fail to realize is that winning teams are made, not just hired…

You can hire amazing candidates who later become mediocre employees due to the wrong culture and leaders. And although winning teams are made, hiring the right people is still the first step.

Hiring a winning team is both a science AND an art—especially in the restaurant industry. It requires maintaining a consistent process that is executed by all hiring managers to achieve results. Oftentimes, it is how we hire people that dictates their level of success within an organization, not who they are when they applied. During the hiring process, it is your job to set the tone and your applicant’s job to make the decision to either join your franchise’s culture…or not.

Having a winning team begins by hiring people who will succeed and thrive in your organization. There are four critical steps for a successful, long-term hire:

1. Define what your ideal team member looks like.

The first step toward a successful hire is to understand and gain clarity on who it is that your restaurant franchise is looking for.

Defining a candidate profile will provide you and your hiring managers with a baseline that you can refer to when comparing candidates. This is a critical part of the hiring process. When we neglect this step, we often end up hiring the wrong people, wondering later why they didn’t stay or succeed.

When thinking through who your ideal team member is, you need to define every aspect of what that person needs to be like. It is true that not every candidate will match that vision 100%, but the closer you get, the better your chance of success.

Some details in the restaurant industry are non-negotiable—things like availability, experience, attitude, willingness to wear a uniform, etc. When defining your ideal team member, clarify which details are non-negotiable and which are more flexible.

Providing clarity will prevent unfulfilled expectations and disappointment on both sides, helping avoid broken trust, poor performance, and eventually, separation. Do yourself a favor—define your expectations and live by them.

2. Identify reliable recruiting resources.

There is a very real staffing shortage in the restaurant industry that is impacting 1000s of franchisees. This means that we need to be creative and resourceful when finding great candidates who are willing to work on a winning team. To find these gems, you need to put in the work, doing what others are not willing to do.

It is true that most franchise recruiting nowadays is done via social media and online platforms. This may be the best way to reach the most people in the fastest way, but how many reliable and successful recruiting resources are we leaving on the table because we are unwilling to make the extra physical effort to use “traditional” and “old-fashioned” ways? If we want to truly solve our staffing issues, we need to think outside the box and look back toward old methods.

Think of tactics like seeking referrals, asking current employees to invite their friends to interview, reaching out to local universities, posting in grocery stores and community boards, etc. These tactics all have great value.

Every restaurant franchise community is different and unique. Each of your units is in a different community. Get to know your community. Get involved. Many unexpected sources will emerge, and they are most likely going to be different for each business unit. Your goal is to become the business in your neighborhood that your ideal team member thinks of when looking for a new job.

3. Interview to discover.

Interviewing people is an art. It requires following a specific process and objectives to achieve the ultimate goal: to learn if they are a fit for…

a) Your company’s needs & requirements
b) Your culture and behavioral expectations
c) The job description of the position that you are filling

These discoveries need to be made in 30 minutes or less if you are interviewing many candidates for the job. To do this, you’ll need to ask the right questions. Think back to the employee profile you defined in step one, your franchise’s cultural needs, and the job’s requirements. Thinking through these details will help you define your questions carefully, and asking well-thought-out questions will make you the most effective interviewer possible.

4. Onboard to set the tone.

Hiring a winning team doesn’t end with an offer letter. The first experience new team members will have with your restaurant franchise is during the onboarding process. During the interview process, these people only knew your company from the perspective of a candidate and an outsider. Now, after accepting the position offered to them, they get to know the real company, and learn what they actually said yes to.

If you have experienced “no-shows” or new employees resigning within their first week of training, this may be a sign that you have an issue with onboarding.

Remember, onboarding is a new employee’s first experience with your restaurant, so if it’s not great, they may become disappointed and not come back. Managers can lose great team members when their expectations of an organization do not meet their reality. Making a good first impression is essential. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that individuals have a positive initial onboarding experience with your organization.

You want to make sure that, by the end of their onboarding and initial training (especially on day 1), your new team members go home feeling happy about saying yes to your job offer.

If you follow these four steps, you will build a solid foundation for hiring a winning team. However, remember that a winning team is made, not hired. Once you hire the right people, the way to build a winning team is by maintaining the right culture and the right leaders to foster success, positivity, and a healthy work environment.