Restaurant Remedies - How to Stop High Turnover

January 8, 2019



Dear Restaurant Remedies,


I am a small fast casual restaurant owner.  Our restaurant has been open for less than a year and I am experiencing high turnover. I only have 15 people on the schedule, I keep losing cooks, and I can’t seem to find any. This means I am constantly in the kitchen and can’t get out front to interact with new guests.  What should I do?!?                    


                                                        --Over worked and Frustrated, Southern Ca


Dear Overworked and Frustrated,


I am sorry you are in this situation and I am glad to see that you are wanting to find some solutions. I have been in your shoes, and it is challenging to find employees these days who really want to work, particularly in the cook job code.  But don’t worry, below are some tips that worked for me and my restaurants.


Reality of Employee Turnover

Let’s get some of the stats out of the way on restaurant turnover.  Unfortunately, the restaurant industry reports some of the highest annual turnover rates of any industry with the average at 74% and fast feeders often show averages of 100% or more. This means the 15 employees that you have today on your roster, may not be there in one year!  That’s the reality of the business.  


Millennials make up the largest sector of the work force and they are known for frequently changing jobs. Restaurants like yours, that have less than 20 crew members, are hit the hardest. If you lose a couple of key employees it can be devastating and it is one of the largest causes for restaurant business failure during the 1st year. Now is the time to get the handle on it so you can grow your business!


If I were you, I would try these two strategies that I found help me to combat turnover in the kitchen and find replacements:


Hire for Cross Training:

Several years ago, I noticed the Los Angeles market started having difficulties with finding qualified kitchen help due to the increases in minimum wages and the increased level of sick leave days  (up to six days annually) in the city of Los Angeles.  In the restaurants I was operating, we did our best to keep a little above with the market wages, but because our menu had a guest check average of $10.75 – $11.50 we could not offer the highest wages of some of restaurants who had $20.00 plus tickets. The minimum wage increase also caused compression in wages. This occu