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While summer may seem ages away, hourly employers who see a spike in summer business know that summer hiring has to start before winter is even over. Snagajob's recent summer hiring survey showed that hourly employers began summer hiring as early as February.

An uptick in summer business means the chance for a better bottom line heading into the fall. But if you don't hire seasonal staff who will provide top-rate customer service, then you may as well bet your summer profits on a single hand of poker.

Renewing your focus on customer service and hiring employees who are poised to offer service that will drive repeat business can mean the difference between a summer full of winnings or empty pockets come September.

The customer service wild card

As consumers' expendable income has decreased, the qualifications for what makes a spend "worth it" have become stricter, and customer service is bubbling to the top as a key competitive differentiator. As the busy summer months provide the impetus for customers to seek quicker meals at better prices, bigger sales and new menu items may draw customers to your restaurant, but if your customer service disappoints, you won't see repeat business.

The good news is that hourly employers understand that personality and character can define a good hire. Snagajob's Q1 employer survey, which focused on summer hiring, found that 70 percent of respondents put more stock in attitude and personality for their summer hires than they do in interview performance or relevant skills and experience. These employers are on the right track to a profitable summer because:

  • According to Harris Interactive, 86 percent of people say they've stopped doing business with a company after just one bad customer service experience.
  • Booz & Company found that 82 percent of people say they're likely to spend more money at stores if they get better service, and 62 percent said they will not purchase from store again if they get bad service.
  • According to American Express, 70 percent of Americans are willing to spend 13 percent more with businesses that provide excellent customer service.
  • Open Table recently announced the 100 restaurants with the best service, noting that the most memorable part of the meal may not be the food, but the service you receive.

While each of these resources found slightly different statistics, the resounding theme is that customer service is king. And hiring employees who have the attitude and personality to provide great customer service can make the difference between a good hire and one that doesn't support your business goals.

The question is, how can employers recognize the applicants who have the attitude and disposition that leads to the type of customer service that will turn a summer customer into a forever customer?

A front-line full house

The most reliable way to determine if an applicant will deliver remarkable customer service is to assess for the characteristics that lead to great service as part of the application process. Applicants can look good on paper, and some may knock an interview out of the park, but applications and interviews don't uncover the core characteristics that drive actions.

Behavioral assessments pose questions that will determine if applicants possess the qualities that lead to stand out customer service.

Ask applicants if they feel that they can provide great customer service, and they will probably say yes. But what is their energy and frustration tolerance level? Are they accommodating to others and dependable? Are they socially outgoing and do they have a positive service attitude? Each of these factors impacts the ability to provide the level of customer service that will set your restaurant apart from others.

Assessments, when built into an application process, will also help you identify the most qualified candidates faster, which is key when it comes to summer hiring. Snagajob's Q1 employer survey found that of the employers who indicated that they will hire this summer, 35 percent have already started hiring their summer staff. By knowing from the start who's a good fit for the position based on your business's core characteristics, you can hone in on those poised for success and move them to the next step in your hiring process before a competitor swoops in.

If you're worried that adding a behavioral assessment to your application process will deter great applicants from applying, don't. Assessments add only 15 minutes to the process and serious applicants typically view assessments as an opportunity to prove they meet your job requirements. If a candidate isn't serious enough to take a short assessment, the odds are he or she won't turn out to be one of your top performers.

As you look at building your workforce - whether to accommodate anticipated summer demand or to strengthen your staff - think of your menu offerings and sales as the base of a good hand. But remember that memorable customer service and service-oriented, front-line employees are the cards that take a good hand to a winning hand.

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Latest posts by Amanda Richardson
Amanda Richardson
As SVP of Product and Marketing, Amanda manages product development of Snagajob's business solutions making it easier for hourly employers to source, hire, manage and train workers. She is also responsible for business development efforts. Oh, and she loves brunch.
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