Background Checks: What Restaurant Owners Should Know

As restaurant owners and managers can attest to, there’s a high turnover rate in the restaurant industry.

As restaurant owners and managers can attest to, there’s a high turnover rate in the restaurant industry. Historically speaking, the turnover rate, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor, has been as high as 80.9 percent (2007) and as low as 56.6 percent (2010). The latest statistics show the turnover rate hovering around 66 percent, which is more than 20 percent higher than the private sector. This means you’re likely to hire managers, servers and bartenders often throughout the year.

You need to run background checks on those applying for jobs at your restaurant to ensure you’re hiring the best people. Even if you overlook those who have felonies on their records, you will want to know why they served time. Background check services can be pricey, but you can find one that suits your needs and isn’t too expensive.

Basic background checks

A simple screening of one’s Social Security and criminal record will suffice for most positions in a restaurant. Your servers will handle money daily, so you want to ensure each potential new hire is trustworthy, and a basic background check will work well enough.

Additional Tests

Your managerial staff deals with more sensitive information. As such, background checks that also have a credit check and drug testing component may be necessary for new managers.

One-shot background checks

A background screening on its own isn’t terribly expensive, so if you don’t have a high turnover rate, you can purchase background checks as needed. You can pay a full-service background check company to deliver all of the information you need on a report, which means less legwork for you, but these services add up quickly.

Your other choice is to run a background check using a website service. You’ll have to do the research yourself, and some elements, such as employment verification and civil and criminal records (typically provided by full-service background check companies), may not be included with the service. However, this method is much more affordable, which may be preferable if you have a lot of candidates to check. However, what it will cost more of is your time.

Background check contracts

If you run several background checks per month, you may want to opt for a contract with a company that lets you run unlimited background checks, or several, per month. You pay a flat monthly fee and get results quickly.

Editor’s Note: Looking for a background check solution for your business? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

Before running a background check

The most important thing to remember is that you must remain Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliant. The FCRA states that you must use the background check information for hiring purposes only. You’ll want to disclose to potential new hires that you will conduct a background check. You’ll also need to get written permission from the applicant. Last but not least, don’t violate equal opportunity laws (federal or state).

If you decide not to hire an applicant based on information revealed in the background check results, you should first notify the applicant in advance, supply a copy of the consumer report you used to make your decision and provide a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (which background check services will supply you with). You will also need to inform the applicant that he or she was rejected because of the information contained in the report, the contact information of the company who sold the report, that the company selling the report didn’t make the hiring decision and that the applicant has the right to dispute the report.

Don’t base your decision solely on background check results – be sure to contact a potential hire’s former employers or professional references. Ask about trustworthiness, punctuality and whether they get along with co-workers. Find out how they handle high-pressure situations or how they responded to rude customers. As enlightening as a background check is, it can’t tell you how your new employee handles actual situations that could arise in a restaurant.

Image from marekuliasz/Shutterstock

Amy Nichol Smith

Amy Nichol Smith is a freelance writer who covers business, technology, food, sports, pop culture, and much more. She’s a former features reporter and editor for The Monitor newspaper and has a love of football and video games.

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