Take Your HR Digital | International Franchise Association

Take Your HR Digital



Technology just might be the answer to your employee recruitment and retention problems.

By Tamra Kennedy

It’s fair to say that the days of catching and keeping great employees by just propping up a Help Wanted sign in the window have passed. To meet the recruiting and retention demands of today’s tighter labor market, employers are seeking and using forward-thinking, cutting-edge HR processes and tools. Now, more than ever, technology should play a pivotal role in your HR solution.


Recruit and Onboard

Paper applications and Post-It notes to remind you to set up interviews have been replaced with an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Born of the digital age, a good ATS combines help wanted ads with an interview schedule and ultimately even the electronic processing of first-day paperwork. Applicants apply on mobile devices or even by scanning a QR code on our front door glass. Our managers can text the applicant and set up an interview and can forward the onboard link when they are hired. Each stage of the employee paperwork process can be tracked, forms are completed accurately, and critical information, including job descriptions, are delivered – all without cutting down a forest! Woohoo!

Over the past four years, we have tried three different ATS products in search of the best recruiting and onboarding platform for us. I have found that it’s a bit like Goldilocks: one did too much [and cost too much], one did too little, and one is proving to work quite right for our nine restaurants.

When considering an ATS product, think about your overall goals and look beyond the obvious bullet points that are served up on the 30-minute webinar. Some products cast a big net – some offer a more specialized focus. Be picky. For us, one of the most important selection criteria is an alert system that pings our internal HR team when onboarding occurs. That alert triggers a whole host of processes that are deadline driven and help keep our general managers on track.


Training and Development

One of the biggest HR challenges our business faces is keeping track of a multi-stage training process for 200 employees all coming and going at different times. Taco John’s partnered with a company that blends short instructional videos with light reading and a game-like tracking process to keep employees on track and moving forward. Tablets in the restaurant are used to quickly access training modules and take quizzes, giving our management team more time to observe, support or correct, and ultimately develop stronger skills with the employee.

Internally, we are working on a training video library to augment our brand’s inventory. In Q1 2019, my management staff will receive store paperwork training by accessing video recordings made using Loom, which will replace a cumbersome Admin Manual in a three-ring binder that no one actually reads. We are putting finishing touches on some action video training sessions made with GoPro technology and some Adobe software –  all in an effort to replace instructional reading with interactive viewing lessons.


Operational Efficiencies

Finding employees is only part of the technology story. Keeping employees engaged and excited about work is critical. Ask your employees what they would do differently at work and they will gladly tell you! One of the most common answers [we ask for input regularly!] is “isn’t there an App for that?” To them, there MUST be a faster way to get the work done. We continue to outfit our kitchens with digital technologies that not only calculate how much of each ingredient to prep – by day – but also print out the labels for the prep containers. Each store saves 45 minutes a day in tedious, and often inaccurate, work and the team is happier to complete the chore.

We also use the digital thermometer system to take food temperatures quickly and accurately, store them in the cloud, and access data that helps develop a stronger food safety system in our restaurants. Our goal each year is to eliminate as many paper processes in the kitchen as possible and move them to an automated product.


Technology has a cost to the business for sure. It’s always good when you can find useable low cost products. But nothing beats FREE – We love free tools! Every day, you can find our management team communicating on WhatsApp. We set up some [not too many] rules of conduct, and then turned them loose to freely communicate with each other. It’s not unusual to see a Pop Up drive-thru speed of service challenge on a Taco Tuesday thrown down by one general manager and see everyone else dig in to win – for bragging rights. Maybe the chat is around a product shortage or a staffing issue – maybe an update on a charity drive. They keep the conversation going and we think we are better as a team using it. 

Ditto Google Docs! We take advantage of this platform to build and share our company’s KPIs each week, our individual quarterly goals, a recommended reading list – you name it! That adage “you are more likely to accomplish your goal if you write it down and have some shared accountability for it” is true. We all can see each other’s results, good or not so good.

A popular document in our company shows “The Record” held by each store or team. We celebrate accomplishments like the single biggest transaction, the biggest one-hour sales amount, the most “unicorns” – that’s for another article. Takeaway? Using technology to drive historical pride and recognize accomplishments should not be overlooked as a tool in your HR toolbox.


Today, my Leadership Team has a technology seat filled by a general manager. As we move forward, we recognize that developing a technology IQ is vital to stronger operations and improved results. And we know that for technology to take root and bloom in the restaurant, we need the input and expertise from the end users. We see a restaurant world that is engineered and built with interconnected digital touch points that provide information and efficiencies to our difference makers: our team!


Tamra Kennedy is a multi-unit franchise owner of Taco John’s and Vice Chair of IFA’s Franchisee Forum. In February 2018, Kennedy received the FAN of the Year award from the Franchise Action Network for her work advocating for the franchise business model. Learn more about Taco John’s.