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

  • David Hotovy was amazing in every way possible. 

    First off, I would like to say Thank you for all the support and help landing a spot for me.  We kept in contact everyday whether we were talking about family or work.  Even after the prospected new job kept us hanging, after we thought we landed it, he was there to make sure my mind was still right.  I actually want to work with him and the company now lol.  He stayed focused on finding me a spot and telling me that I have everything companies need.  To his Boss as well, to going to bat for me. I feel I made a new friend.  I don't know if there is anymore that I can say, I would love to do more for the company so your whole team is recognized.  I deal with businesses and customers a lot and this was by far the best customer experience I've ever had!  I thought I was the best!! If there is anything I can do for David and your company let me know.
    Cheers,
    Steven King
    David Hotovy was amazing in every way possible
  • Colleen Casey went above and beyond. 

    Colleen Casey of Patrice & Associates helped me obtain a Payroll position.  She helped build my confidence and mentored me through the interview process.  In my past career searches I have worked with other career agencies and never experienced the service I received working with Colleen.  She became my mentor with building up my confidence and how to go about interviewing for the company I have accepted my current position.  I would recommend the company, but would definitely tell anyone to contact Colleen if they are looking for a new position in the future.

    Thank you,

    Dorinda Sperry

    Colleen Casey went above and beyond
  • Corina Mack was wonderful to work with. 

    She was easy to speak with during the interview process and gave helpful tips. She was diligent with her follow-ups and very responsive to my calls/emails.  I would absolutely work with Corina again!
    Thank you!
    Amanda
    Corina Mack was wonderful to work with
  • Darryl is my Coach Angel. I'm very thankful to have been reached out to for this job.  At the same time I received the call I was just listening to something and then I received the call from Darryl and things were answered.  I'm even receiving more money than my last management job ( WOW ).  Thanks again, you all changed the game for me.           Sincerely, RASHEDA KEITH Darryl is my Coach Angel
  • Corina Mack was amazing!  

    She communicated well throughout the interview process and understood my goals and expectations of the job position.  She did a great job of connecting me to what the company was looking for in the VP of Operations position.  This gave me ability to be well prepared for my interviews.   Not only would I recommend Corina, but planning on using her in my new role to continue to staff accordingly.
    Thank you,
    Pete Hodges
    Corina Mack was amazing!