White Castle says it cold-called 550,000 past applicants from up to 4 years ago to fight the labor shortage
White Castle emails and text messages to applicants from four years ago
Chains are trying new methods of attracting employees, such as signing bonuses and drive-through interviews.
White Castle says there is relatively little turnover even when workers leave the industry.
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Fast food chains are getting inventive in dealing with a tight job market as a boost in sales.
White Castle cast a wide net, reaching 550,000 past applicants in 2017, Vice President of Marketing Jamie Richardson told Insider. The burger chain got in touch via text messages and email, and about 32,000 of the potential workers were interested, the Wall Street Journal reported.
While White Castle refused to say how much of this news resulted in employment, "we're pleased with the overall result," Richardson told Insider. This was just one example of the Ohio chain's efforts to reach out to potential employees. "We had to get more creative to get in touch," said Richardson.
The entire catering industry is struggling to hire and retain workers. The labor shortage in many sectors of the economy is a boon to some disaffected retail workers who are suddenly able to look for new jobs. Some workers who were on leave or laid off at the start of the pandemic may never return to fast food and customer service work. In April, 187,000 hospitality and restaurant jobs were created and the industry is still 13.5% below its pre-February 2020 employment level.
Read more: How much should be paid? Search 250,000+ salaries from 250 of the country's largest companies
In response, fast food chains are holding hiring events, adding extra perks, and in some cases increasing wages. A McDonald's in Florida gave candidates $ 50 for interview only, and a North Carolina franchisee reportedly offered a $ 500 new customer bonus. Taco Bell hosted a hiring event and offered drive-through interviews at some locations. Chipotle raised the median wage to $ 15 an hour.
White Castle, unlike its competitors, did not deal with increased sales, Richardson told Insider. More than 25% of employees have been with the company for at least ten years, he said. Richardson attributed this low turnover, a rarity in the fast food world, to some key benefits.
White Castle workers are paid weekly instead of bi-weekly, a worthwhile perk as over 50% of workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Workers can also eat anything on the menu for free and come outside of the clock and order food for a 20% discount.
Richardson says White Castle has put more emphasis on these messaging benefits as the company continues to hire people. The strategy seems to be working - the number of restaurants that can again dine around the clock is almost as high as it was before the pandemic, he said.
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