Food service: Thriving…not just surviving
The past two years or so have not been exactly kind to the retail and hospitality sectors, but in an effort to restore a little balance, we talked to two businesses that didn't receive the memo that it was supposed to be doom and gloom at the moment...
In conversation with: Lucy Shaw, Recruitment Consultant
Positivity rating: Optimistic to celebratory
Q: How has the economic turbulence of the last 18 months affected your business?
It's business as usual for Nando's. We are continuing with our expansion plans of opening 20-25 restaurants a year and continue to invest in our people to ensure that they are being the best that they can be. You will never be a number at Nando's, even with over 950 managers you will have your individual learning plan, tailored specifically to your development needs to make you an even better manager. This enables our managers to develop themselves, their teams and to really drive their business.
Q: What's the most exciting initiative currently taking place within your business?
Nando's was recently voted the best big company to work for in the UK and with more restaurant openings planned it is an exciting time for the company that really believes that people are fundamental to its success. After all we wouldn't say 'it's the people that make the chicken' if we didn't believe this to be true.
In 2009, Nando's celebrated achieving the maximum three stars in the Sunday Times Best Companies. As the accreditation is assessed against questionnaires that are sent out to a random selection of our nandocas, it really highlights "extraordinary" levels of engagement across the business.
Having achieved the maximum three stars in the Sunday Times Best Companies accreditation process - the only big business in the UK to reach this milestone - we decided to enter again as well as challenge ourselves against other big companies with more than 5,000 people to see how we compared, not only within the hospitality sector but across all businesses in the Sunday Times Top 100 list.
In February of this year we waited nervously to hear the results. How would we fare against the other companies that had entered? Based on the responses, engagement and enjoyment of all things Nando's, we once again were the only 'big company' in the UK to achieve three stars. If this was not reason enough to celebrate, we are also the Number 1 Best Big Company to Work For in the UK!
We are so proud to have this recognition and it really highlights that Nando's is a different place to work. It's a place where we value our unique spirit and passion and this is reflected in our commitment to ensuring that the 'Nando's Experience' is alive and well within everyone who comes into contact with our brand.
Q: How has the downturn affected your ability/desire to recruit?
We plan to open 20-25 new restaurants across the country this year which means that there are great opportunities for those that are passionate about great service and delivering the Nando's experience to all of our guests.
Q: What are your recruitment plans for the next 6-12months?
We have 20-25 new restaurant openings planned for 2010/11 and next year we plan to open around 30. At Nando's we try to plan ahead for our recruitment needs meaning we should never be short of managers, allowing people to gain the full training that they are entitled to.
In conversation with: Melanie Graham, Head of HR
Positivity rating: Cheery with exuberant spells
Q: How would you assess prospects for next 6-12 months?
This is a very exciting time for Zizzi as we continue to grow. In the past few weeks we've opened three stylish and individual new restaurants, one in Aberdeen and two in central London. Being seen in all the right places is all important - Zizzi at Tower Hill and Bankside, with fabulous views over the Thames, are both great examples. Over the coming months, Zizzi will expand further by opening more new restaurants in a number of great locations across the UK.
We operate over 100 restaurants nationwide and employ over 2,500 people. Zizzi restaurants are run the Italian way - passionate and homely with a little flair. Each one's a bit different in character, architecture, age and feel; think Robert De Niro with a regional accent. Wherever you are in Zizzi, something you can always be assured of is a warm welcome. We know it's the teams who make the Zizzi experience special so we pride ourselves on employing the best people at all levels of the business.
Q: How has the economic turbulence of the last 18 months affected the business and how have you sought to offset this?
In order to stand out from the crowd, we've been working with Andsome to develop an award-winning employer brand. It's important to us that people who work for Zizzi feel valued and part of a family. We want our teams to feel a strong sense of ownership of their restaurant and for this reason we value their creativity and ideas. Our people are responsible for our success so whether you are a manager, a restaurant team member, working in head office or a chef, it's your passion, your individuality and your style that make Zizzi the success it is today.
We recruit people from all walks of life and we always look for personality, enthusiasm and a genuine desire to ensure every customer has a fantastic experience every time.
Q: So what's it actually like working for Zizzi?
All new employees undertake a full induction programme and will spend time on the restaurant floor and in the kitchen with our chefs. It's important that everyone has an appreciation of all aspects of running a successful restaurant before they graduate with us. Your love of freshly prepared food, good wine and customer service at its best is what will set you apart.
Q: And what about the career prospects?
Whenever possible we promote from within and are committed to providing development opportunities for our teams. This combined with a new reward and recognition programme helps us to retain good people who are keen to share in Zizzi's success.