Last week, after a long day of work, I was craving a chicken sandwich.
When I closed my laptop for the day I raced out to my go-to spot…
…only to find the drive-through and in-store line were both excruciatingly long.
Cue the sad trombone sound effect.
My dreams were crushed. No matter how much I was craving that specific chicken sandwich, it wasn't worth this kind of wait.
In these situations, it’s easy to just “blame the restaurant” (I certainly did, with one or two words I can’t repeat here thrown in for good measure) but who — or what — is really to blame?
Maybe the 3.4% unemployment. Or maybe the decades old ATS that is holding the employer back from converting top qualified candidates. I really wanted to find the answer(s). So, like all people would do in this situation, I simply whipped out my phone and dialed up the former global head of TA at McDonald's.
That reads like a completely made up clickbait headline but...really, I did.
His name is Josh Secrest and (luckily for me) he happens to work at Paradox now. Here's what Josh told me: There actually is somewhere specific we can place the blame for chronic understaffing in quick serve restaurants. Four, to be precise.
And if you can fix these four drop-off points, you can keep your restaurants humming.
And maybe, just maybe, I can get the chicken sandwich.
1. Applicant screening.
Usernames, passwords, and pages of questions that seemingly never end. It’s the candidate experience most people grew up with on paper applications (and hated), but it’s not the experience new generations expect out of their application experience — and it’s leading to extremely high dropoff rates.
What do they expect?
In a world where your next candidate could very well be a customer too, what would make the hiring process easiest for them? Well, a simple QR code or “Text Hiring to 25000 to apply” poster in the window of the restaurant would send them into a text conversation with an AI assistant. After a quick conversation, qualifying questions, and the occasional emoji, the candidate is automatically screened for the position they were interested in. This mobile-first conversational experience takes a formerly antiquated process and turns it into a quick conversation that converts up to 92% of candidates — compared to traditional ATS conversion of just 20%. All of the sudden you have a converted, qualified, candidate moved along in the hiring process faster than they even got their food.
Can your candidates complete an application faster than they can check out or go through a drive-through? If not, you may be missing out on top qualified candidates who look for quick and easy ways to apply for a job. Limiting screening questions to the most critical requirement also helps convert candidates quickly down the funnel.
2. Interview scheduling.
Instant automation is the key here. Yes, we mean literally instant.
Candidates don’t have the time (or the patience) to wait around to see if they are getting an interview. With candidates sometimes applying to up to 15 jobs at one time, the restaurant across the street becomes much more than a competitor for customers.
This process should also be 24/7: 35%+ of applications come in after hours — make sure you are the first to get back to candidates with automation. No, your hiring managers don’t have to (and shouldn’t) wait around after hours to answer candidate questions or re-schedule interviews, that’s where conversational software comes into work.
This stage of the process is historically extremely vulnerable to candidate drop-off, but the rewards of scheduling quick interviews can see conversion up to 97%.
No one wants to wait around for food, so why would they wait longer than two days for an interview? Interviews taking place less than 48 hours after the application is the new standard. If this seems impossible, it’s probably because you aren’t leveraging automation to your advantage. Every hour the candidate waits around for an interview to take place increases their likelihood of applying at the restaurant across the street. In the event that a candidate has something come up, naturally, they should be able to quickly re-schedule with text message to a conversational software.
Instead of the entire process falling apart at the seams — a simple “I can’t make it at this time” text can save the day on a top candidate, and shows that your business is candidate-first.
This stage of the process is incredibly important to introduce specific content to candidates at the right time — showing them what the job and final stages of the hiring process will look like can ensure you are preparing them to make an impact as fast as possible. Due to emails burying candidates, traditional systems see around just 60% conversion rate at this point in the hiring process while conversational software has seen around 92% conversion.
This is the stage that your hiring managers are begging for automation to save them time. Picture this: AI can automatically send your onboarding paperwork, tax forms, WOTC, and even administrate background checks with the candidate. Leaving a fully hands-off process for the hiring manager to focus on the business, instead of answering the same candidate questions 100 times a day.
The longer a candidate has to wait in this stage, the lower chances of having a full staff ready on day 1. Traditional onboarding processes only see 65% conversion in this stage of the process while conversational software has seen up to 91%.
Conversational software has changed the game for frontline hiring. It’s faster. Simpler. Intuitive. And aligned with the changing tides of younger generations preferences (myself included). Understaffed restaurants are simply leaving dollars on the table when missing out on converting candidates, but it doesn’t need to be like this forever. In fact, it won’t. I am hopeful for a future where drive-through lines are shorter and chicken sandwiches are in no short-supply.