Does your competition have their sights set on your best food truck employees? The practice of employee poaching (stealing employees from nearby competitors) costs food truck owners time, money, and resources that could be allocated better if employees say “no” to outside offers. However, earning your employees’ loyalty takes time, patience, and in some situations stock in the future.

In the food service industry chefs are the primary target of employee poaching. While this practice isn’t new, you need to prevent your best employees from getting poached. They might be exactly what your competition needs to fill the lines at their food truck or restaurant and empty yours.

How To Avoid Employee Poaching

If you learn that one of your most valuable employees is considering leaving, you need to be proactive in trying to prevent it from happening. Sit them down and have a frank conversation. Find out if there are simple ways you can improve the employee’s work life. If the employee is seeking new challenges, look into options that you could provide. If you can find a way to keep them, it’s a win-win.

Here are some additional Do’s and Don’ts to follow to avoid employee poaching from your food truck.


  • Pay attention to signs that employees may be entertaining offers and ask if there’s anything you can do to fix their issues.
  • Check in with your team from time to time to make sure employees feel challenged and engaged.
  • Identify employees you can’t afford to lose and devise personalized retention plans for each.


  • Make a counteroffer. It almost never makes sense to pay up to keep an unhappy employee.
  • Discount perks like flex-time as a key retention tool. Instead, eliminate employee frustrations to keep your best people happy.
  • Overreact. Turnover is a natural part of the food service industry.

When Employees Leave

When a team member leaves for a competitor, an immediate concern is whether they’ll bring others with them. Many believe that when someone’s been poached by a competitor they will try to take people with them. In the aftermath of the departure, you need to work on those people. Find out what they need to stay, then do your best to deliver. Make sure they know how much you value their contributions.

In many cases food truck owners only have themselves to blame for the loss of great employees via employee poaching. Touting your key employees in marketing campaigns is a solid strategy; as long as the person being featured is loyal and has your food truck’s best interest in mind. Remember; you can’t keep everyone. But you can retain your relationship with the person who’s been poached. Sometimes the best strategy is to let them go and hope that they miss you and want to come back in the future.

RELATED: Reducing Turnover In Your Food Truck

The Bottom Line

If you’ve got smart, talented people on your food truck team, chances are they’ll get calls from your competition. As the food truck industry continues to grow, the war for talent is going to get tougher. When you fear that one of your employees is about to be poached use these tips to avoid the loss.

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