New Workforce Insights for Successful Concession Staffing


Unless you’re committed to being a one-person concession operator, the success of your business measurably depends on finding, developing, and retaining effective staff to help with concession food stand management and operations. This can be a surprisingly big challenge for a small business in the concession industry, especially with the changes in today’s hourly workforce, which is largely comprised of millennials.



Staffing Challenges

Today’s small business owners are experiencing a new evolution of culture (see the infographic above for the statistics). There is often a high turnover of hourly/part-time employees, partly because it’s difficult to match a competitive payroll while also maintaining the profitability of a small business. At a time when millennials are prime candidates for this type of work, it can be a challenge to motivate and reward them, as they can have high expectations and be reluctant to make commitments. Lastly, it isn’t always easy to find (or to develop) employees who have a customer-friendly attitude, present themselves well to the public, and will also promote sales.

There are hiring solutions and best practices, however. When it comes to recruiting, look at it as a continuous process. Note that if you recruit only when you have job openings, the pressure to hire quickly can lead to costly mistakes, including less time for quality training.

Tips for Recruiting and Hiring for Small Businesses

  • Search for ideal candidates in places they’re likely to be; consider where they might congregate, socialize, go for entertainment, work, play, shop, etc. Also, stay in close proximity to where you operate. More than 80% of hourly employees work within five miles of home.
  • Tell your story. If you offer career opportunities, maintain standards of social responsibility, and encourage work-life balance, make sure it’s part of your job posting.
  • Speaking of job postings, maintain and keep your social media profiles current, and use them to promote your openings.

Working with Millennials

As mentioned earlier, millennials make up the majority of the employee base for small businesses, including those in concessions. While they’re typically very good workers, there can be some obstacles that come along with this generation. Better understanding this new workforce will help you develop and retain the best of the best.

Millennials grew up with rapidly evolving technology. This is the first generation of “digital natives,” meaning they were born into a world with cell phones, social media, and the immediacy of online shopping. Because of the variety of technologies that have always been a part of their lives, they tend to be good multi-taskers with a lot of energy.

In general, millennials have been raised in an environment where norms and authority are questioned and everyone was a winner. Knowing this can help you better communicate with them, especially if you follow these tips:

  • Provide explanations instead of orders
  • Engage and challenge them
  • Ask for their opinion
  • Be or find a mentor for them
  • Allow them to approach tasks creatively
  • Allow them to approach tasks creatively

There is much to consider when it comes to hiring, but Poppa Corn is your partner in the concession business. Not only do we offer resources for training your staff on operating and maintaining our equipment, but we can also help you develop best practices for concession food stand management, recipes, profitability, and the overall operation of your business. Call us today to see how we can help you succeed.


  • Workforce Institute, How to Find and Recruit the Best Hourly Employees by Mel Kleiman, CSP
  • Gordon Food Service, Millennials—Finding, Training, Motivating, and Retaining the Best Workers
  • Forbes, Do Top Dollar Salaries Really Matter To Millennials? by Kaytie Zimmerman