Bigger Than a Paycheck: Retention Tips | International Franchise Association

Bigger Than a Paycheck: Retention Tips


Maintaining a franchise requires finding, onboarding and keeping good employees who see opportunities for advancement.


By Azim Saju


With unemployment at record low levels, hiring, recruiting and retention are essential to operating a successful business. The hotel business, like many service industry businesses, is very labor intensive and often has entry-level positions to fill. It is also a business where profit margins can get thin and customer service is crucial.


Start with Retention


As such, managing turnover along with hiring and recruiting impacts your profitability. In the hotel business, the average cost of turnover for an associate with one year of tenure, regardless of position, is $10,000. My experience is that the likelihood of you retaining your team members will increase significantly if you provide them with hope, meaning and purpose. This starts with your company culture.



“Provide your team members with hope, meaning and purpose.”



Culture is no longer a warm and fuzzy. It is a set of core values along with a mission and vision that governs your business and the leadership. Everyone wants to be part of something that is bigger than just a job and a paycheck. Your company can achieve this greater purpose through a culture, mission, vision and core values that your leadership embodies and lives.



Purpose and advancement


Recently, I participated on a panel sponsored by the Asian American Asian Hotel Owners Association on Labor and Engagement. The one common theme is that your team members might take lesser pay if they know that their work has purpose, and they see an opportunity for future advancement. The purpose element of this is addressed in the part above about culture.


The advancement portion is simply summarized as follows: continuing education opportunities (whether this is through your local chamber, franchisor or IFA). When you invest in your team member’s continuing education and have them participate in such events, it demonstrates that you care about their career growth and that opportunity for advancement exists.




Hiring can be broken down into several components. First, is the interview component. We require our leadership team who is involved in hiring to take online training about the hiring process (this type of training is often available for free through your payroll company, insurance company and/or sometimes through your local chamber). This will assist in making sure that the questions being asked during the interview process are legally permissible and minimize the likelihood of an employment practices liability lawsuit. This will also ensure that the perspective team member is educated on the job description and company’s mission, vision and core values.



“Everyone wants to be part of something that is bigger than just a job and a paycheck.”



The second component of hiring is onboarding. The onboarding process needs to be such that it spells out a critical path for the necessary training and the critical path is presented in a manner that is professional. In addition, we provide newly hired team members with a uniform, nametag and notebook so that they can take notes during training. This allows a presentation that is both professional and welcoming.


The third component in this process is consistent and regular evaluations that provide objective feedback while allowing for feedback from your newly hired team member. This type of two-way feedback will provide more of a partnership relationship, where your new hire team member feels valued, respected and heard. This component also needs to include a professional development plan for that team member.




At HDG, we use several different mediums for recruiting, such as word of mouth, online ads (Craigslist and Indeed) and recruiting our existing talent. Recruiting our existing talent means providing opportunities for advancement within our organization. For example, recruiting a housekeeper to train on the front desk at a hotel or work in other positions that will allow the opportunity for professional and financial advancement.



“Strong retention rates also are more effective than having to hire and recruit new talent.”



When it comes to hiring, recruiting and retention best practices, it’s best to start with retention. When you have strong retention rates, it means you have a team that has bought into your culture and sees opportunity in doing so. Strong retention rates also are more effective than having to hire and recruit new talent. Next, you will need to have a hiring process in place that is both compliant with the applicable laws, but also communicates a sense of professionalism when it comes to onboarding and training. Lastly, recruiting can occur online, through word of mouth and organically by promoting from within.



Azim Saju is the Vice President and General Counsel for HDG Hotels, which owns and operates 13 hotels throughout Central and North Central Florida. He is also a member of IFA’s Franchisee Forum. Find out more about hotel franchises at