Fast food restaurants in our area struggle to find employees

    Businesses in our area struggle to find employees // WSBT 22 photo

    Businesses in our area are struggling to find employees.

    Experts say it's not just a fast food industry problem. Locally, the biggest competition comes from factories.

    With a thriving economy, it has become what's known as an ‘employee choice market.’

    With 215 restaurants in seven states, Quality Dining Incorporated knows the ups and downs of the service industry.

    “Earlier this year, when RV industries, were clamoring for employees, they couldn’t find enough workers and we were struggling,” said Kelli Stopczynski, Quality Dining Inc., director of marketing. “We were really struggling, but lately we’ve noticed the RV industries are starting to lay off some workers, even starting to cut some hours. We’re seeing employees now come back to us.”

    They say it's a regional problem, with restaurants in Grand Rapids struggling the most.

    “When the auto industry tanked a few years back, and we saw significant changes in that, a lot of families and people were forced to move elsewhere to find those white-collar jobs,” said Stopczynski. “Those populations are shrinking and we are having a really hard time there.”

    But in Florida, where Quality Dining has 91 Burger Kings, they have more applications then they know what to do with.

    “We offered incentives to our employees to recruit from the outside,” said Stopczynski. “We said ‘We’ll give you X amount of dollars if you find a friend, get them to come work for us, and get them to stay for a certain amount of time.’”

    Another reason fast food and casual restaurants are finding it difficult to find workers is negative stereotypes associated with "flipping burgers" or "waiting on tables."

    Those in the business say the industry is a great place to work because of flexible hours and the chance to further your career.

    “Some of those people who started with us all those years ago are district managers and region managers and area directors and restaurant managers who are making a very, very good living,” said Stopczynski.

    Quality Dining which owns Burger King. Chili's and Papa Vino's says they're hiring everything from entry level positions to management.

    For more information, click here.

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