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 would like to personally thank Ken for all his help in helping me to find a job. On June 1st I was released from my job of 11 years. I was unsure of what my next steps would be. I haven't been through an interview in years and I felt like I was unprepared. Ken took the time to help me step by step. He first gathered all my personal information and work history. He built a resume from all of that information and articulated my accomplishments in a way I never could have. He sent me tips on what to wear, questions to ask, and called after my interviews to see how it went. He gave me support and encouragement when I was at my absolute lowest. I couldn't have asked for a better recruiter! Thank you again Ken! Thanks, Again, KenGeneral Manager, Logan's Road House, Chattanooga TN
  • Ken Schreifels was a great help during the whole process from start to finish. He was with me every step of the way with tips and words of encouragement. If I had any questions or concerns, no matter what time of day it was, he was there to answer it. I would recommend Ken to anyone. Thank you, William  I Would Recommend Ken to Anyone Looking for a New JobGeneral Manager, Fuddruckers, New Jersey
  • David Israel was a pleasure to work with and was instrumental in helping me find an excellent career opportunity .

    David was extremely professional and took the time to really listen to where I was in my career and what I was looking for. As a result of the work he did to connect me with the right opportunity, I was able to obtain a great starting salary and great benefits as well. I would highly recommend David’s services to both job seekers and employers. Josh Axmacher David Israel was a pleasure to work with!
  • Tim was nothing but helpful from the start!

    I was originally contacted by Tim as a reference for someone who used to work for me. He must have recognized that I myself was a good fit, because within a few minutes the conversation turned to me applying for the job.  He was always pushing for me. He was there to help with everything, every step of the way, and was in constant communication. He played a massive role in me landing an amazing job with an even better company. I can't stress enough how awesome this guy was. Tim will coach you through the entire process and be your biggest advocate. He has a lifetime of experience and knows exactly what companies are looking for. A+, 10/10, two thumbs up, 5-stars. Thanks for everything Tim! Brock Kinley Tim was nothing but helpful from the start
  • Tim was very patient and thorough when going through the process of trying to find employment for me and my skills. I appreciate the time and effort he put in for me and I would recommend Tim Walker & Patrice and Associates to anyone looking for great opportunities. Carolyn Floyd Tim was very patient & thorough!