If you own or manage a restaurant in the GTA, you’re well aware of the industry’s seasonality. After a long, cold winter, you’re likely several times busier in the summer if you have a patio. But exactly how much busier?

66% of Toronto’s restaurants are full service, which means more big teams, more potential for scaling, and more competition for top candidates.

Being overstaffed or understaffed isn’t good for business. The key to successfully scaling your team up and down without over- or under-hiring is to plan well. If you’re able to project growth and hire talent in anticipation, you’ll seriously impact your bottom line and provide a better customer experience at the same time.


Annual financial and recruitment planning will save you from ‘leaking money’

We strongly recommend using metrics for recruitment, especially to help you understand the peaks and valleys of your business. Annual advance planning is key to success. Do you know when your lulls are? If you have extra space for patio patrons, are you ready to scale your team if there are unexpected high temperatures in May?

Know how long it takes you to recruit for a business boom. If patio season starts mid-June, you’ve hopefully trained and signed on your star talent several months in advance. If your recruitment team has a solid hiring process, they’re tracking the time it takes to interview, train, and onboard new staff. Every spring, they secure returning part-time staff or students for summer positions.

If this isn’t how you currently operate, you should implement a metrics-driven process and start tracking as soon as possible (or hire an expert to help).

While it’s helpful to look at recruiting data from previous years, you should also review your financials to gauge how many extra staff you need. You know summer months bring in extra customers and revenue. Use those numbers to establish how many back- and front-of-house employees you’ll need this year for your restaurant(s), and how to schedule a bigger team accordingly.

Another way of monitoring ups and downs is by tracking point of sale numbers. This will help you identify the peaks and valleys during your restaurant’s opening hours–so if your lunch hours are busiest, you can hire part-timers for those peak times. If you want to capitalize on the patio season surge, taking advantage of the good weather depends on being staffed and ready with your workforce being trained at precisely the right time.


Nail the talent and recruitment cycle early

The City of Toronto hires its returning lifeguards and summer camp staff by mid-February, opening up vacancies to their “on call”, pre-screened recruits. This process helps them prepare for the opening of outdoor pools by July 1st. Applying a similar type of proactive discipline can help your restaurant business.

If motivated students worked at your establishment last year, check in with them early to secure them for the upcoming summer season. Most university students finish their courses by May, so they can be on deck if unexpected summer weather comes early. High school students who don’t serve alcohol, but can bus, host, or perform other jobs, can be trained on weekends prior to the busy season as well.

The average time to hire in 2014 was approximately 45 days from candidate sourcing to job offer. So if you know your summer months mean business, you need to work backwards to determine how to best prepare for those peaks. Make sure you’re seeking this talent efficiently.

Be flexible and creative in your training and onboarding. Plan ahead so you aren’t leaking cash from underutilized employees or failing to meet customer expectations with a bare-bones team.

The same principles that apply to summer hiring and patio season can apply all year, so follow these tips:

  1. Identify your peaks and valleys by reviewing previous staffing metrics, your financials, and POS stats.
  2. Have commitments from returning staff at least 90 days in advance, to determine gaps in workforce planning.
  3. Hire on-call and casual staff who are pre-screened and ready to go for unplanned booms in business.
  4. Start your recruitment process for the remaining staff at least 90 days in advance.

In a sector that employs over 51,000 Torontonians, your establishment should stand out. To learn more about how Mindfield tailors our sourcing strategy to attract the best talent, including your hourly or seasonal employees, click here.

About Mindfield

Mindfield is a Recruitment Outsourcing solutions provider that partners with companies to create powerful hourly workforces. Our solutions combine a recruitment team, simple to use technology and a data-driven hiring strategy that promises to improve the quality of your hourly workforce. This approach focuses on tying business outcomes such as sales performance, tenure, and engagement to the selection, hiring and measurement of quality candidates.