White Castle says it cold-called 550,000 past applicants from up to 4 years ago to fight the labor shortage

·2 min read
White Castle 3
Hollis Johnson
  • White Castle is emailing and texting applicants from as many as four years ago

  • Chains are trying new methods to attract workers, like signing bonuses and drive-thru interviews.

  • White Castle says it has relatively low turnover even as workers leave the industry.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Fast-food chains are getting inventive to deal with a tight labor market as sales surge.

White Castle cast a wide net, reaching out to 550,000 past applicants from as far back as 2017, vice president of marketing Jamie Richardson told Insider. The burger chain reached out through text and email, and about 32,000 of the potential workers were interested, The Wall Street Journal reported.

While White Castle declined to say how many of those messages lead to employment, "we're pleased with the overall result," Richardson told Insider. This was just one instance of the Ohio chain's efforts to reach prospective employees. "We've had to get more creative about reaching out," Richardson said.

The entire restaurant industry is struggling to hire and retain workers. The labor shortage in many sectors of the economy is a boon to some dissatisfied retail workers who are suddenly able to shop around for new jobs. Some workers who were furloughed or laid off early in the pandemic may never return to fast food and customer service work. In April, food services and drinking places added 187,000 jobs, and the industry is still 13.5% below its pre-pandemic employment level from February 2020.

Read more: How much should you be paid? Browse more than 250,000 salaries from 250 of the country's largest firms

In response, fast food chains are holding hiring events, adding extra perks, and, in some cases, raising wages. One McDonald's in Florida was giving candidates $50 just for interviewing, and a North Carolina franchisee was reportedly offering a $500 signing bonus. Taco Bell held a hiring event and offered drive-thru interviews in some locations. Chipotle raised average wages to $15 per hour.

White Castle hasn't dealt with increased turnover, unlike competitors, Richardson told Insider. Over 25% of workers have been with the company at least ten years, he said. Richardson attributed this low turnover, a rarity in the fast-food world, to a few key perks.

White Castle workers get paid every week, instead of every two weeks, a worthwhile benefit given that over 50% of workers live paycheck to paycheck. Workers can also eat anything on the menu for free, and come in off the clock and order food for 20% off.

Richardson says White Castle has made these benefits more prominent in messaging as it continues hiring. The strategy seems to be working - the number of restaurants able to return to 24-hour dining is nearly as high as it was pre-pandemic, he said.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting