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

  • Karen was amazing and very helpful through the interview process with my CEO management opportunity. Karen helped and coached me to prepare myself for the interviews. With Karen's help and my experience I feel that it was a perfect fit for Me.  It's pretty awesome to come back to work in my home town and connect to the community again 2o years later.  It awesome to be close to my family and old friends. I'm happy and proud to say that I'm working for a company that values and cares for there employees. I feel like this is a great opportunity that will open doors for my future. Thank you for your time And big thank you to Karen, she is amazing! Ron G Karen was amazing and very helpful through the interview processChief Experience Officer, BC
  • I am grateful for my experience working with Cara, she was awesome! Always easy to reach via texts, emails and phone. It felt like Cara was on my side and wanted what was best for me. Wrote an amazing resume. She helped set me up with all my interviews, provided interview coaching to help me land the job. She also checked on me completely throughout my whole experience. The best part is how she kept in constant contact with me throughout the process, so I was never left wondering and was very supportive throughout the interview process. I'll definitely highly recommend her in the future! Sincerely, Andrea I am grateful for my experience working with Cara, she was awesome!
  • "I was very lucky to get recruited by Cara and the Patrice and Associates team. From start to finish Cara made me feel like I was the right person for this new step in my career. She was very easy to talk to and brought the best out of me when it came to preparing for my interview. I couldn't have asked for a better person to help with this transition and this great opportunity would never have happened without Cara. Thanks!!" - Chuck A I couldn't have asked for a better person to help with this transition
  • I must say at first I was a little skeptical on what Stephanie was doing with my resume but now after seeing the results I am so glad listened instead of reacting. I will definitely continue with this company and I've already started to recommend Stephanie and what she can and is more than willing to do for each individual.

    Eddie Zepeda I've already started to recommend Stephanie
  • During my 20+ years career in hospitality I had the opportunity to work either directly or indirectly with several recruiting firms and individuals. My most recent job search lead me to Bruce Leininger with Patrice and Associates. Bruce is one of those rare individuals who combines needs of the employer with knowledge and skills of the job seeker. He sees both perspectives, analyses where there is common ground between employer’s culture and applicant’s strengths, then delivers a candid assessment to both parties. Bruce was relentless in pursuit of job opportunities and in finding the “right fit” for my career profile. EVERYTHING that Bruce said and promised in his introduction to me was delivered, and even MORE! Most importantly I truly felt that Bruce was genuine, understanding and caring in regards to my specific needs and goals. As far as I am concerned when it comes to recruiters, there is Bruce and then there’s everyone else. Ned Mirkovic, Hospitality General Manager When it comes to recruiters, there is Bruce and then there’s everyone else.