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Fountain Looks to Bring Gig Hiring Tactics to QSR


Ask any operator out there what their biggest challenge is, and they’ll likely say, “labor.” It’s brutal out there and it’s not getting any easier. In the big October jobs report from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment remains near historic lows. Even the big GM strike didn’t make the numbers look all that bad. And hiring among restaurants was especially strong in the latest report. 

There are a handful of vendors that seek to make it easier on QSR operators, and now Fountain is using a new $23 million investment to bring its gig-centric approach to the traditional franchise space. CEO Keith Ryu said that they got serious about the space as more and more QSR business leaders asked how they could get in the mix. 

“They’re saying, ‘My competition used to be Starbucks or Quiznos down the street, but now I’m competing with all these gig platforms,'” said Ryu. “That was very interesting to us, because our product is really designed for high process and high turnover.” 

The amount of people flowing through the system on the gig side is pretty incredible. About 1 million prospects come into the system, and about 150,000 become gig workers. 

Ryu said part of the funding would help them expand to meet all the folks who saw the offering and wanted it for their traditional retail companies and the rest would help expand the leadership team with an eye toward QSR. He said the original founding thesis was all about making it easier to reach the fairly unique demographic that is supporting gig jobs, but it’s largely the same group of people working in QSR, too. 

“We saw a big shift in how people were finding work,” said Ryu. “Our thesis at the time: recruiting for this demographic was a fundamentally different program than recruiting for white-collar roles that required a different solution.”

It’s a massive category. In the U.S., this group accounts for 60 percent of the workforce or 80 million people.

“Although it’s massive, it’s a demographic that largely doesn’t live online. Ninety percent of the candidates come in without a LinkedIn or a resume, which makes it inefficient for everyone. The hirers have to call everyone. And if the workforce did a great job, that work history doesn’t follow them,” said Ryu. “The second piece, even after the company vets someone and invites them on for an interview, there’s a 40 percent no-show rate.” 

That’s because these folks tend to “spray and pray” when it comes to applying to gig jobs. As Fountain and other hiring companies have seen, one of the most important metrics—potentially more important than pay and perks—is speed to contact and hiring.

“That means people have to move quickly, anyone who can get them in first can win,” said Ryu, who added it’s similar in QSR. “The candidates are applying to multiple places but the place that gets them on the phone or in the office quicker gets them first. So it’s about speed.” 

Unlike the gig world, he said their new push was aimed at helping GMs be more efficient with their time and make the hiring budget more impactful. 

“What was resonating for us, there’s always this conflict; they say, someone quit, we need more money to hire new candidates. So they call the mangers to post more on the job boards, and the district mangers typically manage those budgets. And they say we just spent this money, why didn’t it work,” said Ryu. 

The answer, he said, is often the GM is putting out so many other fires. Looking through resumes sometimes slips to the back burner. And in the meantime, someone else snatched up that prospective employee. But because much of the Fountain approach is automated or taken on by office folks, it can spare the GM the effort of calling everyone and vetting employees. 

“Previously, the area managers would have to hound the GMs to look for new candidates there. By the time they did, they might be gone. So they like the instant engagement,” said Ryu.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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