"Sorry. We're not hiring right now."

We have a waiting list for applicants at Vintage Paris. In this post, I explain some of the strategies we've taken to be in this position.


Matt Farmer

7/19/20214 min read

We receive emails, resumes, and calls from individuals seeking employment at Vintage Paris numerous times each month. This is our default response to them all, "Sorry, we're not hiring right now." I'm not talking about 2019. I am talking about today.

Many businesses are struggling to find workers in 2021. This is a complex issue with a scope way bigger than our small coffee shop. I will not claim to know how to fix the current season we're in, but I do know that we've never struggled to find qualified people who want to join our team. Historically and presently, we have a waiting list of applicants. In the last 9 years, we've never posted on social media, printed an ad, or posted a sign indicating that we needed help. On top of that, many of our employee have stayed with us for years.

In this post, I want to give some insight on what strategies we use to attract and keep talented people in our business. I hope it is edifying and helpful.

We don't hire employees. We recruit disciples.

Our vision is to unite and sustain a community of love that glorifies Jesus Christ. We are a Kingdom Business. This means that we actively surrender our business to God's Kingdom and His values. When we bring on a new team member, we discover their strengths and passions then find a way to fit that into our business rather than the other way around. We can teach coffee-making skills, we don't really look for that. Experience is not a requirement. We search for and recruit individuals we see in our community that will help our business accomplish our mission and vision and fulfill their own God given calling. When they join our team, we do everything in our power to equip and encourage them to pursue the mission that God has placed in their hearts for His purposes. If they stay, we rejoice. If they leave, we rejoice. Sometimes "going into all the nations" means we are a stepping-stone to their God-given jobs and place in life.

"If they stay, we rejoice. If they leave, we rejoice."

We find ways to radically serve our team.

We pay for flat tires to be fixed. If Jessica or I earn any tips, 100% goes back to the team. We help our team move when they change apartments or homes. We do internal fundraisers when team members have an unexpected financial strain, or we do it to help fund a new chapter of their life they are moving towards. We actively and intentionally find new ways to serve our team. They give up their time and talents to make our business better. We want to honor that.

We encourage our team to radically serve our customers and each other.

We expect and ask that our team find new and intentional ways to serve our customers and each other in radical ways. Many of the things we do for our team become things that our team does for our customers. We do this so consistently that our team takes the initiative to serve, then later tells us about the story. No-one needs to ask permission to serve in exciting and innovative ways. They know we support every decision they make. Our team has organized fundraising for our customers in need, supported each other in resources and prayer, and take extra steps to ensure our customers are served in ways that go beyond the typical customer service.

"No-one needs to ask permission to serve in exciting and innovative ways."

Any business decisions must support our mission and vision.

All business decisions are filtered through the lens of our mission and vision. This creates authenticity that our future team members crave. Then, we broadcast these decisions, retelling our mission and vision story for all to hear. This creates magnetism. Future team members know exactly what they are getting into when they apply because our culture, our values, and our mission is on full display.

"All business decisions are filtered through the lens of our mission and vision. This creates authenticity that our future team members crave."

We are quick to communicate and respond to employee feedback.

Earlier this year, one of our new team members commented, "you all communicate so much here." I love that feedback. For years, we've utilized tools like text, Facebook messenger, a team Facebook page, and in-person staff meetings to communicate. On top of these things, we are now using an app called Sling, which incorporates the team chat, updates, announcements, and "newsfeed" information that is specific to Vintage Paris.

When designing the new space for our re-location in Nov 2020, we held specific meetings about workflow and process improvement in which the entire team was invited. The workspace was designed and improved based on employee feedback! The space they will work more than us, is designed by them. We take feedback seriously.

Want a waiting list of applicants for your small business? Here's my tips and some starter questions:

  • Start with your mission and vision. This is the foundation. Can your team explain what your stand for to your customers or to each other?

  • Broadcast your mission and vision to the community. Does the community know what you stand for? In what ways do they see you follow through with your mission statement?

  • Work for your employees. Find new and innovative ways to serve them. When a team member is struggling, how do you respond? How does your team respond?

  • Communicate often and in many forms. How often is praise shared to the team when someone accomplishes the mission of your business in a small but meaningful way?