A time to panic - Recruiting a pizza chef in the current climate

Posted on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 by Alan Pizzaiolo TribeNo comments
I had a look at the Pizzaioli in UK Facebook group this morning and saw 7 posts, in a row, of Pizzerias looking for pizza chefs 😯

If there ever was a time to panic about "not being able to find a pizzaiolo" this is probably it.

With all this competition posting "I need a pizza chef in xxxx" on a Facebook Group doesn't work anymore. As I said in a previous post companies that are expanding rapidly utilise different channels. Social media channels like FB, IG and LinkedIn, niche and local Facebook Groups, but also niche job boards like pizzaiolotribe.com, paid Facebook ads and other "darker" techniques. In some cases we are asked to "head hunt" staff, and this approach may work for more senior positions. 

I don't think it's even a question of pay anymore as we see a lot of places offering £12/h +. Although I believe offering an hourly rate it's part of the problem in itself. Are you offering an hourly rate because you want flexibility? Can you guarantee x amount of hours per week? Does this align with you pizza chef needs? An hourly rate is well and good in busy times, but what about quiet times? Covid showed us that the world in an unpredictable place and it's not Covid it will be an economic downturn or something we had never even contemplated before. An hourly rate may be fine for younger staff, but when you start having a family and the need to borrow money (or get mortgage for instance), your lender may want to see a steady and secure income.

You need to offer benefits that go beyond pay and statutory rights. 28 days holiday and a pension scheme are not real benefits as you must offer them by law, and neither are  meal on duties and staff discounts, as every body else is offering them. We have see some companies offering unlimited holidays, although in practice I struggle to see the feasibility. Are you really going to smile and say "yes, of course" if your head chef tells you "oh I am going away for 6 weeks"? I am not opposed to this, of course, I just fear it may be perceived as a bit of a gimmick. The idea is good, but in my opinion it may need some rejiggling.

Bonuses are always welcome. Make sure they are achievable and easy to understand.

Nowadays most people prize flexibility, working from home from time to time (maybe some of the orders or compliance can be done at home). No one likes working doubles. What else can you offer that separates you from the competition?

If you have a strong company culture or something that separates you from the rest (ethical, vegan, organic, do a lot of charity) make sure you shout about it. In as much as possible you want your staff's values to align with yours.

Always include your website, social media and reviews. 

Shoot a video of your premises, of the kitchen, the produce you use.

Yes you are looking for a pizza chef, but also you are "selling" a job. In the same way you put a lot of love in making your pizzas, you should put a lot of care in preparing your job ad. It still reflects on your business.

In a nutshell you want to create a partnership, as opposed to a business relationship. A win-win situation.

Unfortunately, even if you do all of the above, it may still be hard to find someone suitable. I suggest pizzerias start having contingency plans. Look for skill transferability (for example training chefs to become pizza chefs) like "Fatto a Mano" is already doing in Brighton and Croydon, and as sad as it sounds start standardising your processes and possibly (at least for the larger places) start looking into automation. There is no shame in calling a consultant. Although they will come at a price, they will save you a lot of time and skip some of the "learning curve".

I hope this helps. If you have nay questions just shoot us an email at ciao@pizzaiolotribe.com.

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