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

  • Dear seekers, I would like to tell you about the amazing experience I had working with Scott Jacobson of Patrice and Associates.  In my twenty plus years working as an executive chef I have worked with many career advancement and placement specialists, but none who took the time and directed care that Scott provided me.  His primary goal was to understand exactly what I was looking for and to tirelessly work towards that end.   He focused on my objectives and opened many doors for me.  He gave me invaluable insights into the positions I was considering and guided me as a friend and confidant would.  He understood my strengths and presented me in my most favorable light.  Through his research and diligence he assembled the most pertinent references for me, highlighted my experiences and career achievements.   He found me the exact job that I was looking for.  He was instrumental in negotiating my contract and made sure I was satisfied with every aspect of that contract.  His work did not end there.  Scott has contacted me at various stages of my employment just to check in, and most importantly, to see how I was doing.   Thank you kindly Scott for going above and beyond your duties.  It was a pleasure getting to know you.  Any of you fortunate enough to work with Scott will quickly find all of this to be evident. Sincerely, Chef Jonathan Pflueger  Scott found me the exact job that I was looking for.
  • Just wanted to express my appreciation for FaLisa and your company for helping me find a great opportunity with Panera Bread. FaLisa was great with making sure we found the perfect fit and not just the perfect salary ! Keep up the great work FaLisa, thanks a lot to you and Patrice & Associates Hospitality Recruiting - you make a difference!   Thanks, Brian Salliey Patrice & Associates Hospitality Recruiting - you make a difference!
  • I appreciate what Sherri and Patrice and Associates Hospitality Recruitment did for me and my career.

    Sherri Balzer is an excellent job recruiter. I had been working with her for more than 3 months where I had multiple job interviews with different companies. She is always very detailed, caring, patient, and most of all very professional. I turned down multiple job offers because they were not a good fit for me and Sherri understood my reasons. Instead of losing hope in me she kept working hard looking for other companies that suited my skill set and knowledge. We found the perfect company and I got the best job offer available. I appreciate what Sherri and Patrice and Associates Hospitality Recruitment did for me and my career. Respectfully,

    Andrew Figueroa

    I appreciate what Sherri and Patrice and Associates Hospitality Recruitment did for me and my career.
  • I referred a friend to Patrice & Associates Hospitality Recruitment

    Kim Marzett has been great! Alongside her professional demeanor, she answered all of my questions freely. She has a very welcoming personality, and helps you every step of the way! I referred a friend to her. I was impressed and appreciative! I referred a friend to Patrice & Associates Hospitality Recruitment
  • Patrice & Associates Hospitality Recruitment is by far the best recruiting agency.

    I just wanted to say thank you to Corina for setting me up with Redstone American Grill. I appreciate all the time and research you and your team have done to make sure that I was prepared for my interviews. Patrice & Associates Hospitality Recruitment is by far the best recruiting agency I’ve worked with in my 25+ years of experience. I’ll be your client for as long as I’m in this field. Alexandre Vincent Patrice & Associates Hospitality Recruitment is by far the best recruiting agency