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Wendy’s Franchisee is All Squared Up for Elevating Restaurant Employees from Within

Wendy’s Franchisee is All Squared Up for Elevating Restaurant Employees from Within

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Jenny Day

This smart operator learned how to not cut corners when it comes to long-term hiring strategies

Scott Miller knows what it is like to run a 225-unit multi-brand company. As the CFO of Cotti Foods, a franchisee of Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pieology, he often takes on the long-term challenge to be sure that he has the right qualified people out in the field and in the back office.

Miller runs his restaurants knowing that it is much easier to have a team member ready to step up rather than hiring from the outside. Looking with an eye toward the future, he believes in promoting star employees from within.

“One of the values I try to instill in the organization is that we are constantly trying to develop staff through cross-training for a more well-rounded team,” states Miller. He adds, “When you are scaling up it is important to be thinking two, three, or four years down the road. Do you have those skills in-house, or do you need to acquire them or develop them?”

Below are a few tips on how to focus on your restaurant’s long-term hiring strategy:

Hire with your retention strategy in mind

Your hiring strategy should be focused on how to hire and retain the best restaurant employees possible, now and in the long term. Start by prioritizing culture fit and motivation over just industry experience. It is important to hire with employee retention in mind. When you are interviewing candidates, take the time to look for applicants who are looking for a career, rather than just a job.

With this approach, you may need to prioritize engagement and a drive to learn over direct industry experience. Just because a candidate already has the skills doesn’t mean the person will be the best fit for your culture. Someone who is motivated to learn may end up being a better fit for your company over the long term, even if additional restaurant training is required in the short term.

Create a career path

Training and development are crucial to your retention strategy, as well as to a positive customer experience. Ongoing development is how you cultivate loyal, committed employees. According to the National Restaurant Association, 90% of restaurant managers start at the entry-level. So, you should think of all new hires and existing employees as potential managers, then develop and train them accordingly.

Help employees realize their purpose in the big picture

Employees who understand the underlying reasons behind their actions are more likely to go above and beyond. Invest the time to ensure that they understand why each task is important. Once they understand why daily duties that seem mundane are important, they will be more likely to focus on the result rather than the activity. Regular team meetings, one-on-one sessions, and feedback loops create an open dialogue that strengthens trust and better aligns employees of all levels with the business’s mission. 


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Ensure employees are personally invested

Unless personally invested, employees may not really care about the business’s performance. Providing initiatives to reward staff for optimal performance encourages them to run the restaurant as if it were their own.  

Providing avenues for professional growth and advancement within the organization or future franchise opportunities motivates employees to develop their skills and take on greater responsibilities. Cotti Foods is a great example of how a corporation and its franchisees can offer training and development programs, as well as internal promotion opportunities, demonstrating commitment to their employee’s long-term career progression. 

Transforming both front-of-house and back-of-the-house workers into accounts payable personnel, general managers, and eventually successful operators requires a comprehensive program. By equipping managers with modern technology, mentorship, and performance-based incentives, operators can inspire employees to become proactive leaders who drive profitability and elevate the restaurant to new heights. 

Provide employees with tools for success

Empowering employees with accurate, real-time data and reporting is key to driving profitability. Implementing an easy-to-read, timely “control panel” can help all employees make informed decisions that drive growth. Information such as table turn times, sales per labor hour, speed of service, and other productivity reports can help employees find areas for self-improvement.


The restaurant industry can provide an exciting, fulfilling career. Focusing on your long-term hiring strategy can help you communicate this to applicants and staff a great team. Your restaurant can overcome restaurant hiring challenges with a strategic approach that looks to the long-term health of your culture and company.

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