Tags Posts tagged with "Hiring"

Hiring

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first food truck employee

If you have big ambitions for your mobile food business, eventually (perhaps even at start up) you’re going to have so much to do that you can’t do it all yourself. When that day comes, it’s time to hire your first  food truck employee.

3 tips to help you manage hiring your first food truck employee:

Knowledge First

You can’t just hire people, pay them with a wad of cash every two weeks and then lather, rinse, repeat. Start by learning everything you need to know about becoming an employer.

The Small Business Administration outlines the steps you need to take and everything you need to consider, like getting an employer identification number (EIN), tax withholding, wage and tax reporting, employee eligibility verification, workers’ compensation insurance, quarterly federal taxes and record keeping requirements.

There’s a lot to think about, but it’s manageable.

Now that you have the government’s blessing, it’s time to work on a hiring strategy.

Define Roles

When making your first official hires, it’s better to go with clearly defined roles.

That means taking stock of the tasks that you need a hand with and creating a position in support of those needs. Are you going to be working in the kitchen or working directly with your customers?

The answer to this question will help you to determine what type of skill set you are looking for in your first food truck employee(s).

Mind you, a little flexibility doesn’t hurt and helping employees spread their wings can help you nurture your food truck staff.

Food Truck Business Culture

Another important factor to consider before making your first hire is your food truck’s culture.

What values, traditions and practices do you want to shape your mobile food business? Once you’ve figured out what kind of workplace and culture you want, the better your chances of finding someone who shares that vision.

Once you’ve determined what defines your food truck as a workplace, look for hires that fit the bill. If your employees share your vision, they’re more likely to excel in their jobs and all stick around long enough to help you succeed.

BONUS: We now provide food truck employers and those looking for food truck jobs a great way to meet. Food Truck Jobs at Mobile Cuisine is the perfect solution for employers who want people who have specific food truck experience. Post your food truck job today!!!

If you are an old hat at hiring, what tips would share with vendors looking to hire their first food truck employee? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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now-hiring-highway sign

If you haven’t noticed, over the past five years there has been consistent growth within the mobile food industry. Food truck owners across the country are succeeding to the point in which they are able to bring on more staff to expand their businesses.

If you happen to be in this situation, you may want to consider these traits as those to look for in your next hire, no matter what position they hold. Hiring can be difficult, especially in the food service industry. Candidates may have great cooking or customer service skills…but they just don’t work out. Why?

You’ll find that some individuals try to get by doing as little as possible, while others seem to possess a drive that leads them to give their all each and every shift. It those with that drive that you need to look for, and this article will provide an inside look into specific traits they’ll possess that tend to guide their work behavior, leading them to produce high-quality work consistently and without the need to prod them to stay on task.

Dedication

Those with a good work ethic are dedicated to their jobs and will do anything they can to always perform at the highest level. One sign of this will be seen in their resume, it will show that they change jobs less frequently than industry standards. They also often work as long as it takes to get a job done, showing that they are someone truly dedicate to their job.

Reliability

Reliability goes hand in hand with a good work ethic. If individuals with a good work ethic say they are going to show up or start at a certain time, they do. Individuals with a strong work ethic often want to appear dependable, showing the boss that they can be relied on.

Character

Those with a good work ethic often also possess generally strong character. This means they are self-disciplined, push themselves to complete tasks instead of requiring others to complete them. They are also often very honest and trustworthy, as they view these traits as part of who they are.

Productivity

This trait is key due to the speed in which a food truck is run. These individuals work at a consistently fast pace, with high productivity. They will typically get huge amounts of work done faster than others and don’t quit until they’ve completed the tasks they are given. They want to appear to be strong workers so they feel that the more productive they are, the more beneficial to your business they are.

Cooperation

Coming from a military veteran, I can tell you that a cooperative work environment can be highly beneficial for your food truck business. Being cooperative leads to stronger teamwork throughout the truck due to the fact that they often put a lot of effort into working well with others. They will respect you enough to work with anyone they are teamed with, even if they do not enjoy working with specific coworkers.

While it may be difficult to find someone who holds these traits and are capable of completing the tasks you give them. It’s important for food truck owners to do the best they can in building teams with these types of individuals. It has been shown time and again that the most successful trucks always seem to be staffed with this type of crew.

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10 hiring mistakes to avoid

Hiring staff members for your mobile food business is hard work. When you are a food truck owner and you don’t have an HR department to help there is a lot of opportunity to make a lot of hiring mistakes.

Here are 10 that you should avoid:

Hiring friends

This is actually two mistakes rolled into one. Usually when you hire a friend you don’t really consider whether the friend is the best person for the job. The first mistake is to hire without getting as many candidates to apply as possible (more candidates means a higher chance that at least one of them is great). The second mistake is that since your friend may not be the most qualified, you may have to fire them someday. Not only will you lose an employee but in many cases also a friend.

Reviewing each resume

If you’ve done the first thing right and properly advertised to fill a position, you’ve attracted a pool of great candidates, which could end up as 25 to 50 resumes. You certainly can’t screen all 50 of them quickly; there just isn’t enough time in the day. If you don’t have any other employees to help you, explain in your ad how long you expect the process to take.

Skipping the phone screen

Once you’ve finally screened all of the resumes, you will likely still have 5 – 10 good candidates; too many to efficiently meet face-to-face for a busy food truck owner. Your next step should be a phone screen. A 15 – 20 minute phone conversation will help you see if this is a person you’d like to meet. What have they really done? Do they care about the things you care about? Are they on time? The phone screen is a great way to eliminate some folks that you don’t want to even spend 5 minutes with face-to-face.

No written questions

If you go into the face-to-face interview without questions that you plan in advance and write down for yourself, the interview has as much predictive value as a coin flip. Instead, write some questions down. Ask about the candidate’s actual experience (what did you do in that role?) and some behavioral interview questions. Ask each candidate those same questions to get an apples-to-apples comparison.

No testing

There are some things that are easy to assess in an interview and others that are hard. If you are hiring line cooks, you should ask them to cook something for you. Ask service window staff to sell to you. You want to see someone demonstrate their skills. Good candidates will leap at the chance to show their stuff.

Doing it alone

You need some other eyes and ears on the candidate too. Some truck owners do tandem interviews, where you have one person asking questions and another listening. Others let the candidates’ future peers have a crack at them.

Hiring too fast

When you have an open position on your team it can be debilitating. You can’t keep doing your job, their job and the job of hiring. I can almost see food truck owners thinking, “I hope this is THE ONE.” When you go into an interview with that thought process you can easily overlook warning signs. You may not probe in areas where you see potential weakness because you don’t want to find weakness. You want this person to be THE ONE.

Not understanding pay

It can be tough to figure out what the market rate for a job is; but you have to know that going into a hiring process. Do some research, look at other food truck job postings or ask other local food truck owners what they pay their staff so you know what to expect.

Not selling your business

It’s easy to be critical of the candidates and you should. But if you’ve got a good candidate you need to also sell them on your mobile food business. They need to know that you want them and that this position has exciting possibilities for them.

Not closing the deal

When you’ve found the right candidate, it’s time to make a solid offer. Don’t try to low-ball them; make an offer that they will feel good about accepting. Be prepared with all the information they will need to make a decision, such as benefits and vacation time. Show enthusiasm that you really want them on the team and you can see them making a big difference in your food truck business’s performance.

Hiring staff members for your mobile food business can be hard, but if you avoid these mistakes you’ll have a better chance of success.

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Can you train someone for that open position on your food truck staff? This is an important question that food truck owners need to ask themselves while going through the hiring process. While other questions are certainly relevant, this question can significantly impact the bottom line of your mobile food business. Whether you need to fill the role of a drive, server, cook, chef or manager, each can require a substantial amount of time to get someone up to speed to actually help you.

Employee-Development training

A Wealth of Questions

You can narrow the field during the interview stage by asking the right questions. Add in some loaded questions so you can gain a real sense of a candidate’s strength and weaknesses. These questions may not seem relevant to that of a food truck owner, but hiring the right people will likely ensure the success of your truck.

Most of the questions involve the candidate. However, asking yourself the right questions can set the correct framework. Start with a couple of essentials:

  • Need: Answer the important question of need – what needs the position will require from you. From training to the character traits you can only get from “loaded questions,” these questions can help you prepare for the hiring process.
  • Source: Where will you look for your next candidate? Studies have shown that external hires receive “significantly lower performance evaluations for their first two years on the job…,” though they have more education and get paid 18 percent more than internal candidates. (hint hint: try to hire from your existing staff)

Once you have these essentials met, you can move on from there. From the starting point of the hiring process to post-interview, it pays to ask yourself the right questions to ensure you’re taking the right steps. Hiring mistakes can have an unmistakable and negative impacts.

The Decisive Question

You think you have the right candidate. He or she has all of the characteristics on paper, and there is much to like regarding the candidate’s aptitude, likeability, and interactivity. Yet, one question remains: Can you train them?

In some cases, everything seems to be right – but that person is unable to make the transition to the job. Due to a need for him or her to start right away, it just might not work out. Situations like these can be unfortunate, especially when the hiring decision isn’t well thought out.

This decisive question is incredibly valuable in many situations. Ultimately, the “right” candidate for the job may not seamlessly integrate into the new position. Training them may be too much trouble.

Can you train the applicant? Or would it be too much of a hassle for the position?

Every job is different. And every candidate is different as well. Yet, this question could be the litmus test for your business and the position. Someone who has never cooked inside a cramped food truck kitchen before may have some trouble acclimating to a hectic environment. However, you may find that you or another employee can train them during the slower times of the day. One other question you may want to ask yourself is if the candidate will have the ability to “catch up.” In this case, a trial period may not be a bad idea.

Overview

The barrage of questions is bidirectional in the hiring process. In order to spare your mobile food business of a costly mistake, the important questions must be asked and answered – and applied – by you.

Look at the applicant’s range of skills and qualities that aren’t found on paper. From the basic to the tough questions, the subsequent answers can be used to gain an understanding of what an applicant can bring. However, there is always a practical and important question with regard to training.

Learn to ask yourself and the candidate the right questions. It could save you a great deal of pain in the end. Remember: Your employees ultimately reflect on you and your food truck.

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I have recently noticed a lot of food trucks across the country have been looking for window service staff and even some discussion in message boards where vendors are seeking insight on how to hire top performers.

interview questions

Coming from my time as a recruiter (aka headhunter) in the automotive industry, I can tell you that the best answer to this question is in asking the right questions to determine the skills that the server is bringing to the table.

These questions will help you determine whether the applicant you are interviewing has the talent and personality to be a top performer in your food truck. What you can learn from the answers to these questions will help you avoid poor hiring decisions and enable you to build your staff with the best servers in town.

Here are four questions that should be included in every window server interview:

Describe Your Favorite Meal.

This will give you insight into an applicant’s ability to sell and their passion for food. If they cannot describe their favorite meal in a way that makes you salivate, how are they going to describe your food truck specials? Any applicant that fails to impress you with their description will require a great deal of time and effort to train. This should not result in an immediate rejection, but should serve as a red flag.

What Do You Like About The Mobile Food Industry?

The answer you are looking for here is one that shows a passion for the industry. Be cautious of a server that loves the ability to work with friends, get off for their band’s gigs, or make a bunch of money. These servers are looking at the industry as a means to an end, but not passionate about it. Loving the pace of the business, impacting the guests’ experience, or contributing to a team are all great answers that come from top performers.

What Would You Change About The Food Truck Industry?

This question works in much the same way as the previous one, but measures something different. The answer to this question will uncover the level of frustration and burnout a server may already have with the industry. This gives them a chance to vent their frustrations to you, before they vent them on the guest. Be wary of any answers that are critical of guests or former managers. A hostile response may indicate a server who will lower morale.

Why Do You Want To Work Here?

This question is commonly asked, but the answer is often misinterpreted. The answer to this question will give you a great idea of how they view your food truck. If they cannot tell you why your food truck excites them, then they are probably just looking for a job. While all applicants are looking for a job, those that do not hold your mobile food business in high regard will often jump ship at the next opportunity. Finding employees who are excited about your food truck will significantly decrease turnover and help insure that your new employees bring a sense of excitement to your staff.

None of us should be naive enough to believe that an applicant will be completely honest in their interview. There are always going to be exaggeration and positive spin placed on their responses. One of the best ways to avoid this is to ask questions that they are not expecting or that actually test their skills. Responses that have not been rehearsed will provide more accurate information than those that are carefully planned. If you want a more accurate answer, you need to ask a better question. These are five great questions to start with.

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Are you turning down work because you simply don’t have enough time or hands on-board your food truck to take it on? Thinking of hiring your first employee? Congratulations – your mobile food business headed in the right direction.

help_wanted

But before you advertise for a new employee for your food truck, proceed with caution. Hiring staff is a commitment to the future, and should be made with your long-term growth plan and whether you really want to be an employer in mind.

Here are some points to consider, plus some tips for determining whether you can afford to hire your first food truck employee.

Future vision for your food truck business?

When faced with too much work, food truck owners are often encouraged to hire up, but is that what you want for your business? Is it your goal to become a larger business or remain a sole proprietor?

Temporary workers might be a short term option, but be aware: many laws and regulations that apply to full-time employees also apply to seasonal or part-time food truck employees.

?Where do you need help?

If you’ve decided to bring an employee on board, your first step is to project your mobile food business workload and identify areas where you need help. What does your workload pipeline look like for the next 30 days, 90 days and six months, and which areas of work do you need help with? What are you doing now that you could offload or have an employee do? Perhaps you need a line cook, or a service window staff member or service staff for your upcoming catering jobs. Or, maybe you simply want to free up your time to concentrate on other parts of your business.

Can you manage people?

Don’t overlook this important consideration. If you’ve managed employees in another occupation, how successful were you at making good hiring decisions? How many bad ones have you made?

Can You Afford It?

Working out whether you can afford to hire is a common stumbling block. Start by building a realistic picture of the costs and overheads that your food truck business will incur if you hire an employee.

These costs should include:

  • Wages
  • Unemployment Tax – State unemployment taxes vary by state, so check with yours. Federal unemployment tax is 0.8 percent on each employee’s first $7,000 of earnings.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance – For new employers, this figure depends on your industry and the job performed. Again, check with your state about your expected rate.
  • Medicare and Social Security Taxes – Currently, Social Security tax is 6.2 percent on wages up to $113,700, and Medicare tax is another 1.45 percent.
  • Recruitment and Training Costs – These can run into the thousands, but, you can reduce them by using networking and referrals to uncover candidates.
  • Benefits – Optional.
  • Payroll Costs – It takes time and money to administer payroll and calculate taxes and withholding. Examine the cost of payroll software that can help streamline this task.
  • New Equipment – Computer, desk, other tools.
  • Insurance for Company Vehicles

Next, look at last year’s income (if there was a last year) and expenses and factor in the projected annual cost of an employee and the extra income one might make possible. Then, consider your upcoming work and cash flow. Can you afford to live with reduced profitability for a few months as your mobile food business ramps up? Calculate what you can put into generating new business if your time is freed up.

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tip of the dayThe best food truck owners know they need to hear opposing voices. These mobile food vendors hire people who disagree with them so those opposing voices are with them at all times.

Here are the things to look for when hiring a food truck staff member who disagrees with you:

  • Strength of ideas. You need alternate views based on facts. Contrary ideas should be well thought-out and put in context of what’s best the mobile food business.
  • Ambition. Someone who disagrees with you shouldn’t just be there to stir the proverbial pot. Look for someone who is interested in moving up in your food truck organization and is in for the long haul.
  • Track record. Willingness to disagree with you is not enough. Be sure that the person’s track record shows an ability to follow through on ideas and get things done.

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tip of the dayWhat makes a great employee? Many call them the “Four Cs”:

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity

These are the kinds of skills that are not only critical for food truck ownership to have, but also the individuals you look to hire. These traits show how quickly one can adapt and innovate.

Unfortunately many employees are lacking in these critical skills. In fact, 50% to 60% of managers feel the majority of their workers are at best average in these skills.

These are skills you should look for when hiring, but remember that they can be developed in employees too.

While experienced workers are much more likely to have these skills than recent culinary graduates, it’s easier to develop them in students and recent graduates than it is to develop them in experienced workers.

One-on-one coaching and mentoring are by far the most effective ways of developing these traits in your food truck employees, so a mentoring program that pairs you or trusted senior employees with junior ones could be well worth the time and effort.

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food truck tax accountantAs a food truck owner, you where many hats. From line cook to tax accountant, your plate is typically full 24/7. Once food truck owners being expanding their mobile food empires, they usually look to bring in professionals to help them ease the pressure by asking them to take over the tasks they specialize in. The first area many of these mobile entrepreneurs look to take off their plate relates to accounting and their taxes. When you begin to look for a tax accountant, you want one who not only can help save you money and avoid potential trouble with the IRS, but also can provide useful information for your food truck business. A good accountant will communicate what the numbers really mean to you.

So shop around, interview accountants and figure out which one is the best fit for you and your mobile food business. Here are some key questions to help you make the decision:

What kinds of clients do you work with?
You want to make sure your accountant understands the mobile food industry. Food trucks have certain rules to follow for wages and tips, for instance, just as a construction business must deal with issues related to contract workers and a real estate development firm will have certain criteria about how income is reported. You need an accountant who has worked with other food trucks or restaurants and knows the ins and outs of the food service industry.

Are you available year round? Some accounting firms shut their doors after April 15 and only reopen for the following tax season. But when you’re running a small business, you’re going to need help all year. If something comes up, you don’t want to wait until tax season in order to get your issue addressed.

What’s your experience with the IRS? Often people will tell you it’s important to hire a certified public accountant rather than an EA, or enrolled agent, because CPAs have more comprehensive certification requirements. While CPAs are state-certified and have training in such areas as financial planning and bookkeeping, EAs are certified by the federal government specifically to handle taxes and are often former IRS agents with extensive experience dealing with audits. On the other hand, a CPA will likely have more experience with broader financial planning issues. Rather than focusing on certification, focus on how your accountant’s experience is relevant to your food truck business.

Who will be doing the work? Accountants will often outsource work to a third party. This doesn’t mean their services are bad, but you want to be sure they are forthright about who is doing the work. If you want to talk with someone familiar with your bookkeeping and that’s a third party, it likely will be difficult to speak with him or her directly.

Are you a conservative or more aggressive accountant? Some accountants want to write off everything they possibly can, while others take a more conservative approach. It’s important to figure out where you fall on the spectrum and find an accountant who agrees with your philosophy. If accountants tell you they specialize in finding red flags that could trigger audits, they may be hesitant to maximize your deductions.

How do you bill for your services? Some accountants charge by the hour; others bill a flat rate. If you want to take a more hands-on approach to your bookkeeping, an hourly rate might be better because you won’t have as much continuous work for an accountant. Regardless of the billing approach, be sure to get an estimate of an accountant’s likely fees. Provide a copy of your previous year’s tax returns so the accountant can familiarize himself with your business before giving a quote.

What tax program do you use? You shouldn’t choose accountants based on the tax program they use, but it’s a good detail to ask about. QuickBooks is commonly used for small businesses, which means your information would likely be easily transferred between different accountants. Hiring an accountant who uses more obscure tax software won’t affect the quality of the work, but it might make it tricky to switch accountants.

How often will we communicate about tax issues?  Every accountant will be different when it comes to frequency of communication for tax planning purposes. Ask about a prospective accountant’s approach and be sure you’re satisfied with the degree of communication. You want to feel comfortable calling them with issues relating to your taxes.

If you have any additional questions that might help our readers, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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tip of the day

Most food truck owners are now well versed in hiring Millennials  but many of these mobile businesses still have the chance of making avoidable mistakes. Most gaffes involve outdated hiring practices that alienate Generation Y. Here are three tips for reaching the top-performing culinary graduates of this generation:

  • Evaluate for potential, not experience. Culinary school students don’t yet have a wealth of resume experience. Seek out those who are passionate and a cultural fit with your food truck organization.
  • Highlight flexible work arrangements. Millennials care more about social and flexible work environments than high salaries (good thing for them). Entice them with perks like extra vacation time and flexible scheduling.
  • Show your culture. A good interview process should communicate the culture you have developed with your food truck business. If your organization has a youthful, innovative vibe, be sure to convey that (but don’t fake it).

 

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