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Thrive Tip #4: How to Build a Dynamic Team and Employer Brand

Part of the 6-part blog series “Top 6 Tips for Creating a Thriving Catering Brand” by NACE member, Aleya Harris.

Congratulations! You’re more than halfway through our six-part series on how to transform your catering business into one that is truly thriving. Have you put all my previous tips to work yet? If not, there’s still time and three tips to go.  We’re really cookin’ with gas now!

Today, we’re going to turn our focus from attracting and serving customers to attracting and retaining top talent.  A business is nothing without a strong team to run it.  It’s super important to create a well-balanced, dynamic staff that treats your business as if it were their own.

Let’s not waste another minute! It’s time to build a strong and effective team.

Thrive Tip #4: How to Build a Dynamic Team and Employer Brand

When you think of the term “employer branding”, you probably think it’s a simple way of defining how you and your business are branded to outsiders and potential new employees. But employer branding isn’t always that straight forward. It’s an interrelated mix of a clear company mission, culture, and values that attract a team that has the same standards and drive as you do.

Employer branding is all about differentiating your company as a great place to work. In an industry where long hours, oven burns, and sore knees are the norm, demonstrating genuine care and value for your team members goes a long way.  Employer branding can help your business attract the best of the best when it comes to top talent. A strong brand can also increase application turnaround and create even larger pools of applicants to choose from. It also makes your current employees feel more valued as human beings and can widen the customer perceptions about your business and your brand.

Let’s breakdown three tips and tricks to help curate the perfect team.

Develop a Career Page that Shows off Your Assets

Like attracts like.  The first step to attracting your ideal team is to look in the mirror.  What is the image that you and your business put out into the world?  Do the values and standards that you profess to actually show up in your operations, marketing, and client testimonials?

In today’s job market, potential employees have a lot of options and they do their research. To get a general idea of what you’re looking for in team members, a future employee will use your website’s career page as their central hub. By designing an easy to use and informative career page, you can clearly demonstrate your company culture and allow the candidate to self-select if they’re a match.

If you’re going to dedicate your time to creating a career portal, there are a few major components that can help attract the right candidates. Before anything else, your career page is where you should put emphasis on your company’s goals and core values. By making them a priority, applicants can quickly compare their own values with your own.

You should also share key metric figures that relate to your company’s growth, such as any awards, press, or sustainability achievements. People love to read the positives of any company. In the same lane as company success, this is where it would make the most sense to share employee stories and career testimonials. A great way to help candidates get a feel for who you are is to incorporate videos from current employees, videos from you, and a “day in the life” example so they can be clear about what they should expect.

One final thing to include on a well-crafted career application page is the benefits that come with the job. Sure, benefits might not be the reason for applying, but knowing what your employer is willing to offer you in terms of insurance, flexible scheduling, and paid time off, doesn’t hurt. Even if you don’t offer “traditional” benefits, there are still awesome reasons to work with you and you should make them known.

Employer Branding Starts from Within

When you want to extend your services and grow, you have to take a deeper look at what you’ve already accomplished. Before you can start reaching out to new pools of applicants, you need to gain a better understanding of what your current team believes you’re doing well and where you could improve.

Stop and think for a moment. If you a new position were to open up in your company, how many of your current team would apply because they absolutely love working for you?  If internal candidates are submitting applications just to increase the money on their paychecks, you have a problem.  If you aren’t creating a loyalty culture now, you’ll experience costly employee turnover.  It doesn’t matter how many candidates you attract if you can’t make them stick.

It may be uncomfortable, but if you’re brave enough to lean in, be vulnerable, and have the tough conversations about team morale, individual career goals, company culture, and the employee-employer relationship, you’ll reap the benefits.  Strong teams are built on respect, openness, great communication, and clarity.  If you haven’t already checked out Brené Brown and her work on leading from a place of courage and vulnerability, I highly recommend it.

Humanize the Hiring Process

The hiring process can be a scary and difficult process for all involved. One way to ensure that new, potential talent feels valued as something more than just a capable set of hands is by humanizing and personalizing the process.

I’ve seen sterile, unsupportive hiring processes more times than I would like to admit.  After the initial interview, brand new employees are thrown to the wolves and forced to navigate the routines of day-to-day work without any recognition or outside help. When we’re trying to get through the next event, pump out food, or juggle multiple clients, it’s easy to let our actions tear down a cherished, hard-won culture.  How you onboard new team members builds the foundation for the mindset they’ll have in their daily work.

One of my favorite quotes from Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead (can you tell I really like her work?) is “Clear is kind.  Unclear is unkind.”  You may think that by being vague and leaving the details up for interpretation that you are allowing employees to build their own path, or be creative, but you may just be creating confusion and frustration. Be clear about what career trajectories realistically look like.  Post job descriptions that are simple and free of jargon. Recognize and reward positive behaviors publically, early, and often.  Be clear with what you expect and make sure that you have a Waterford Crystal understanding of what your employees expect from you.   Now that you have these employer brand tips in your possession, you’re ready to use everything you learned here in your next hiring process.

In our next post, we’ll be discussing “Thrive Tip #5: List Building.” Find out how you can add your ideal clients to your email lists and quickly engage and build a relationship with them to better serve their future needs.

Want to learn more about this topic?  I will be hosting a live webinar about ONE of the Top 6 Tips for Creating a Thriving Catering Brand. You have the power to decide which tip we will be diving into more deeply on the webinar.  The post with the most views will become our webinar topic.  Vote for your favorite topic by sharing the post via email and social media to increase the views.

Aleya Harris is the owner of The Social Media Pantry and Food & Beverage Media and Marketing, a boutique marketing agency for F&B brands and individuals that specializes in content creation and marketing strategy. She is a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and former private chef and catering company owner with extensive experience as a Marketing Executive for a large foodservice company.  She is obsessed about marketing and helping F&B pros turn their talent into treasure.  @fbmediaandmarketing


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Most catering and events business owners fail at making money doing what they love because they don't know how to market themselves. Through her company, Flourish Marketing, Aleya offers marketing education, strategy, and tools that help wedding, catering, and events business owners stop staring at a blank calendar and start getting and keeping a consistent stream of clients. Aleya is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who also happens to be an award-winning, marketing strategist, brand manager, content developer, and storyteller. She has a background as a marketing executive on the leadership teams of large foodservice organizations and has also been a private chef and catering company owner. Aleya speaks your language and understands your challenges. She knows how important it is to work in your passion. That's why for the past 12 years, she has been focused on helping over 1,000 accounts, brands, and business owners to be successful. Aleya is a dynamic interpersonal communicator and presenter with the exceptional ability to inspire, motivate, and equip her audience. She loves opportunities to connect, help people develop, and create the space for her fellow entrepreneurs to see their visions manifest.

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