High Volume Hiring
4 min read
July 20, 2023

Way more with way less: Restaurant hiring with the Conversational ATS.

The antidote for limited applicant flow and spending more than 60,000 each month on job advertisements? The Conversational ATS. Here's the story of Southern Rock Restaurants road to hiring success using automation and their conversational AI, Savannah.

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Picture this: 

You’re the director of digital recruitment for a 150+ location McAlister Deli’s franchise organization. You’re spending more than $65,000 per month on job advertisements and are only receiving around 1,000 applicants to keep your locations staffed.

It’s just not working. So what do you do?

Well, if you are like Courtney Dempsey (the actual director of digital recruitment for Southern Rock Restaurants) you implement a Conversational ATS to streamline your hiring process with automation and drastically reduce your job advertising spend.

And that just works. Here’s how. 

Breaking the hiring bottleneck.

Since Dempsey was essentially making up the “one-person” recruiting department for Southern Rock, the organization faced a massive bottleneck when it came to recruiting and interviewing candidates. Managing all job requisitions and requests specific to each hiring manager, there’s just too much for one person to handle. The process would constantly slow up due to specific location needs since 99 stores were operating with staffing levels at or below a critical deficit.

She knew that they needed to leverage some form of cutting-edge technology that would allow them to optimize hiring and recruiting, specifically through their usage of Indeed and Glassdoor. In the process of addressing her hiring managers’ pain points — Dempsey was able to set some lofty goals for the hiring transformation: 

  1. Reduce the amount of time that managers spend off of the floor with administrative work to attend to applicants.
  2. Maximize candidate flow to acquire a better quality applicant by leveraging conversational recruiting software.
  3. Create the most streamlined hiring process necessary to create cost savings. 

In order to maintain hiring efficiency (and reach those goals), legacy software wasn’t cutting it for Southern Rock — it left their hiring managers overworked with administrative tasks and a constant stream of cash being pumped into job sites that weren’t converting. To overhaul the process, the franchise fixed their eyes on an assistant.

Not an actual person, but a conversational AI that automated hiring tasks to finally free up hiring managers from administrative chaos and create conversational touch-points with candidates.  An assistant to take candidates from point A (screened and scheduled) all the way to point B (hired and onboarded) — ready to start on Day 1, without spending thousands of dollars.

That conversational assistant’s name is Savannah.

The conversational transformation.

Savannah helped Dempsey transfer the one person recruiting team into something that felt like an entire team of recruiters working around the clock — an actual hiring machine.

Now, instead of spending her time helping managers with administrative hiring tasks, she is able to turn the levers of the Conversational ATS to create a process with minimal candidate drop-off and pick from the best-of-the-best candidates available.

“You have to take advantage of the analytics and pull data on hiring trends,” Dempsey said. “So with pinpoint accuracy, I can determine what day is the most effective to post a job advertisement. You can see through the data analytics chart how we can maintain a hundred percent status, so we went from 80%, not even two months ago, to fully staffed a hundred percent “

Without the time and cost savings — utilizing these analytics was simply an afterthought. Plus, candidates now experience a hiring process that feels entirely like a conversation between two people — no barriers, no drop-off points. 

Throughout this experience Southern Rock Restaurants has increased their candidate application completion rate up to 95% (and growing) and reduced their job advertising spend by 70,000 per month across all platforms — allowing Dempsey to have a better vision on the growing applicant flow and saving the organization more than $840,000 per year. 

This transformation turned the TA function of the company from what used to be a money drain into a revenue driving machine.

I do all the job postings for our managers… and I haven't run a management advertisement in almost three months, which is unheard of heading into peak season. That’s what being fully staffed at the store level gives you. The ability to go to the stores, have one-on-one conversations with the general managers, be able to do site inspections at the store — this is freed up so much time that it's a shift in how they are doing their own jobs and it's a completely different shift in culture. A lot of happier people.

Courtney Dempsey
Director of Digital Recruitment

Hiring for the future.

For Courtney, she’s already thinking about how it can get even better.

With an increase of 50,000+ in Southern Rock’s candidate flow, there’s no longer a sourcing issue on their hands — rather an opportunity to make sure every candidate has the best experience possible since they are potential candidates for future positions. Hiring managers are now able to make more tactical hiring decisions but also operate with an ease of mind that more candidates are already screened and available if someone no-shows. 

With an ever-growing franchise business (and new locations opening all the time) Southern Rock is ready with fully staffed locations, so the “people thing” no longer needs to be a limiting factor in the success of their business.

Written by
Tyler McEvilly
Content Specialist
Tyler McEvilly
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