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Where are all the workers? The shortage of workers directly impacts our ability to keep the business open during regular business hours.  The unfortunate reality is that this is not unique to our industry.

Initially, the worker shortage was due in part to federal programs providing additional unemployment incentives because of the pandemic.  The federal programs created an “I can make more money staying at home than going back to work” kind of environment.  However, with those federal programs now over, why are people not going back to work?

Returning to the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference live and in person was exciting on many fronts.  It was great to reconnect with friends and to hear firsthand, face-to-face, the challenges many multi-unit franchisee owners are experiencing.  I talked to many about the talent shortage and here is what stood out the most, and where I think we go from here:

How do I get people to even apply?

Simply motivating people to apply to fill a position is creating challenges for an industry where it was already tough to get applicants. Now it is even harder to garner interest in getting someone to apply.

How do I ensure they fit the organization?

There is a shortage across all areas of operations and we need to move more swiftly to get people in the door. The difficulty is determining if they fit the culture and add value to your team.

How do I keep them once they apply?

If you are lucky enough to get applicants who fit the organization, you need to figure out how to get them to stay.

These are questions and challenges causing multi-unit franchise owners to make quick and sometimes “out of the norm” decisions.  These decisions have immediate impacts on the business and, if culture and team dynamics are not considered, can have long-term effects. For example, a few owners I talked to recently mentioned that they are just offering more money upfront to start, sometimes doubling the original starting pay.  Other owners are foregoing the worry of a cultural fit and just putting someone to work.  Although both these approaches will get you some boots on the ground, they will not provide a long-term solution for the current need.

It may seem like a rhetorical question, but do you realize how critical recruiting and retaining the right talent are to the future of your business? It is crucial to fulfill your vision and goals for the business and your future financial health, otherwise known as succession planning - not to be confused with exit planning. Succession planning provides solutions to overcome the possible, probable, and potential issues that impact your vision. Succession planning transforms your vision into reality, while exit planning only considers the process of leaving the business through sale or transfer.

We are experiencing historic times in many ways. Increases in the minimum wage, innovative offerings for getting people in the door and getting them to stay, huge bonus and incentive programs, and other recruiting strategies are at play.  What are you doing to innovate in your recruiting? More importantly, are you recruiting to retain? Culture attracts and creates loyal teammates and customers; it also has the power to lose customers and talent.  The success of your business and achieving your vision is critically dependent upon the quality and depth of your team.

Kendall Rawls knows and understands the challenges that impact the success of an entrepreneurial owned business. Her unique perspective comes not only from her educational background but, more importantly, from her experience as a second-generation family member employee of The Rawls Group - Business Succession Planners. For more information, visit or email

Published: September 27th, 2021

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