When New Restaurant Owners Are In Startup Mode, When To Hire Employees

By Dew Merridew

Ching-yuan Hu and Janeco Matsko met in a small restaurant in Denver nearly 10 years ago. Now, they’re on track to open up their very own food truck, Look Hu’s Cooking, in the first half of 2021. Driven by a passion for food, Look Hu’s Cooking brings together their combined expression of heritage, values, and personalities—all through a variety of dishes and flavors that comfort the soul.

Life in a startup business is often the same—you wear a lot of different hats for your business. It’s the same for Ching and Janeco with Look Hu’s Cooking. When you’re in the startup phase, when is the right time to start hiring? When to start investing in the services, products, processes, and more that come with having employees? The transition from business owner to manager of a team can often be a fast and clumsy process. We want to address that in this short article that gives you a specific strategy to help people like Ching and other restaurateurs navigate the transition as seamlessly as possible.

Knowing when to hire—and when to not

Hiring your first employee is a huge milestone for any business, but it’s also something not to be taken lightly. So how do you know when it’s time to hire? Try asking yourself these questions to figure out if you’re in the right place to bring a new person onto the team.

  • Do you have the budget to hire?

  • Are you able to fulfill your current orders?

  • Are your customers happy with their service and food quality?

  • Do you have the time to do daily admin work (financials, bookkeeping, etc.)?

  • Are you (or your partner) lacking a specific, crucial skill set the business needs right now?

  • Are you skimping on your own self care (vacation, mental health) in order to run the business?

Hiring someone before certain qualifications are met can be risky for your business. Running low on cash is one of the top reasons startup companies fail—and ensuring you have the budget for labor (AKA people) is definitely something to consider before hiring.

If you find your business is starting to suffer in the areas of service, quality, and ability to fulfill orders, it might be the perfect time to start looking for an extra pair of hands. If you’re unsure of exactly how much help you need, start with hiring someone part-time. Then, after they’re ramped up and helping with the business, you can ask yourself the above questions again to see if you either need to transition them to full-time or hire someone new.

The biggest thing is to not rush it when it comes to hiring—hiring the wrong person is almost worse than not hiring at all. Plus, when you have that new person joining the team, don’t be afraid to fill your browser tabs up with resources on management and training—you want to provide a good experience to your staff as much as you do your customers.

Good luck!

To learn more watch the video podcast, listen to the audio podcast, and see the full series here.

Families thrive on tradition which yields a legacy to be left for future generations. Restaurant owners help to create that legacy for their families and communities by opening new businesses. 7shifts is born out of Jordan Boesch’s relationship with his father, and the time they spent working together in his father’s restaurant. It is because of this deep commitment to family and legacy Best Served is motivated to partner with 7Shifts, underwriter of Best Served New.

Dew Merridew is the Brand Strategist at 7shifts, a technology platform built to help restaurants manage their labor. Dew cultivates 7shifts' social and content garden and is always looking for new ways to grow the 7shifts network of restaurateurs, local talent, and tech companies. In their free time, Dew enjoys playing video games, trying out new recipes, and playing with their three cats.

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