Meet the Matchmaker for the Restaurant Industry

A recruiting firm founder knows a new job can change everything — even for her franchisees.

Back in 1989, after having worked as a pet store owner, a caterer and the first female captain on the Chesapeake Bay, Patrice Rice realized something: Any given restaurant needs five to seven managers, but finding qualified people is often a struggle. Hotels and casinos are plagued by similar staffing issues. So Rice set out to be the missing link. She launched a hospitality and restaurant industry recruiting firm, Patrice & Associates, and developed relationships with large chains like Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Applebee’s and the Cheesecake Factory. The business took off. Every time one of her more than 500 national clients needs a new manager for a new or existing location, Patrice & Associates is tasked with hiring them.

In 2010 she took the next step and turned to franchising, and today there are more than 100 Patrice & Associates franchisees throughout the United States and Canada. Rice travels around the country one week per month to offer support. “We don’t just give franchisees two weeks of training and say, ‘Good luck.’ We talk to them every day for 90 days,” she says. “My mission statement says recruiting isn’t all about money. It’s about helping people.”

Recruiting isn’t the most obvious thing to franchise. What makes this business appealing to franchisees?

“A lot of franchisees are first-time business owners, and it’s scary. There are three things they worry about: cash flow, how their industry is going to be affected by the economy and territory. We’re a unique opportunity — we have a safety net for all three. One, because I ran this business for 20 years before franchising, a lot of chains were already my clients, so I have jobs for franchisees to work on. Two, in America, the food industry is number one for jobs and for growth. And three, in every other franchise, territory is everything; in my model, they have a territory, but they can work the whole country.

Plus, we have very low startup costs, and franchisees can work from home. All you need is a telephone and the internet. There is no inventory to buy, no lease to sign and no employees to hire. I have a franchisee with an RV who travels the country.”

What do you look for in a franchisee?

“You have to have zero phone reluctance — plus sales experience, or sales ability. You have to be proactive. If that’s not the franchisee, then they have to hire a recruiter to be on the phone. This is not buying a job; it’s building a business. When you build a business, you figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are and you surround yourself with people who can shore up those weaknesses.”

Does recruiting have specific challenges?

“It’s constant rejection. You have to be able to handle that. Maybe a candidate isn’t interested in the job you have available, or doesn’t qualify. Or your candidate tells you they’re going to show up for the interview and doesn’t. They might say, “I can pass that drug test,” and they can’t. Franchisees also have to understand that we cannot help everyone find a job. That’s hard. We can help only about 10 percent of the people who send us résumés.

And it’s not about luck; it’s a numbers game. The more people you talk to, the more people go on interviews, the more people get hired, the more people you help and the more money you make.”

What have you learned about company culture and employee fit?

“In a lot of sales positions, you’re always thinking about closing the deal. That’s not what we do. We’re staffing partners for the client companies, but we’re also career coaches for people looking for their next job.

So listen to what they say. Don’t try to talk them into a particular job you have available. Understand what they’re looking for. If you can make a good match, then it all works out. And never forget that you are impacting somebody’s life and the lives of their family.”

This story appears in the June 2017 issue of Entrepreneur

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What Clients Say About Patrice & Associates

  • I am grateful to have met Corina and will surely have a professional working relationship with her for years to come!

    Corina Mack was extremely thorough and quick to respond to all of the needs of myself as well as her business client. Her ability to communicate between the 2 of us made the process so quick. Corina was very knowledgeable about the company she was representing and their current team that was in place. Sometimes companies receive an overwhelming amount of applications for positions and Corina’s ability to pre-screen potential candidates surely expedited this businesses needs to fill their role.           Regards, John R. Guyon III I am grateful to have met Corina Mack and will surely have a professional working relationship with her for years to come!
  • Erin DeFreitas was Top - Notch!

    Could not have been better!

                          Thank You!     Eddie T. Erin DeFreitas was top-notch!
  • I am beyond thankful Jaclynn Graybill!

    Jackie was my recruiter and she truly is an exceptional addition and excellent employee!  Patrice & Associates provided amazing service which made my decision to chose this organization to work for seamless.  I have referred Jackie to a few of my friends, and I am confident they will receive the same outstanding experience as well!

    All the best,

    Chantal

    I am beyond thankful Jaclynn Graybill!
  • I give Jay a 10 out of 10! 

    Jay Gray is an exceptional recruiter and someone who truly cares about what his client is seeking for employment. Jay helped me through the entire hiring process and made me feel confident about my new career opportunity. I am truly grateful to have had his help. Once again, thank you for you service and it really did help me in a time I needed someone like Jay to come in and help secure a position that valued my worth. I’m really enjoying my position and I’m fortunate for the help!               Much Thanks! Walker Patterson I give Jay a 10 out of 10!
  • I have been nothing but completely happy with Jonathan Litt

    Jonathan Litt has been absolutely amazing during the process of getting me hired for a new position. I’ve been in hospitality for many years, as a Director of Finance in hotels. The last year and a half has been quite difficult, even for those of us who remained employed during the pandemic. After a year of running a department alone due to property wide layoffs, a stressful transition (brand and management company), working crazy hours, along with a 20% paycut for 9 months, I started feeling very overwhelmed and drained. I told myself it might be time for a change and I was going to let the universe help me. And, it happened! Jonathan Litt found my resume and reached out to me inquiring if I was interested in a Finance Manager position, in the Food world. And, I thought that it was worth speaking to him.
    Immediately, I felt this position might be a great fit for me. From the very first email, and texts, he was amazing. He is so professional and helpful, down to helping with revising my resume to point out things I hadn’t even thought of, to helping with getting prepared for the interview. I’m so confident in my abilities but always hated interviews because you never remember the things you want to explain or the right questions to ask. I also find it to be amazing that he reaches out via text because we all know how much easier texting can be these days when you’re in meetings and/or have deadlines and cannot always hop on a call. I was offered the position and start in 2 weeks and I’m so excited! I’m grateful that I can stay in finance, while taking a chance in a new direction, albeit still in hospitality, and will finally have a better work/life balance.
    I would absolutely recommend Jonathan Litt not only for anyone seeking a new role or for companies seeking the next “right fit” for their business. I look forward to keeping Jonathan in my circle of contacts.
    Thanks,
    Erica Garner
    I have been nothing but completely happy with Jonathan Litt