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Free breakfast for employee referrals at Gautier McDonald’s

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 7:39 PM CDT
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GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) - Lines at fast-food restaurants are through the roof right now, as eateries across the U.S. struggle to hire and retain employees.

The Descher Organization hasn’t been susceptible to the nationwide trend with its 18 McDonald’s, 17 of which are in Mississippi.

“My family has owned these McDonalds for over 41 years,” owner Pat Descher said.

With decades in the fast-food industry, she said the hiring issue she currently faces is worst than post-Hurricane Katrina. As a result, customers are feeling the effects.

“We can’t find employees,” she said. “We’re not going fast as we should be because we don’t have enough people.”

Descher said there may be many reasons why she is having trouble staffing her restaurants, but she thinks she might have a creative way to fill the positions.

“To see whether we can get any employees from our customers,” she said.

The idea is simple. At McDonald’s in Gautier, a customer can either fill out a referral card inside the restaurant or speak with an employee about a potential worker.

If that person is hired and stays on for 30 days, the customer that referred the employees gets free McDonald’s breakfast for 30 days.

The campaign is only going on at the Gautier location as a test before potentially being used at other Jackson County locations. Customers have until the end of September to participate.

The goal is to get more daytime crew members and managers on the payroll. And Descher said the campaign is already stirring up interest.

“It’s working,” she said. “Slowly but surely. We have two, three, four (potential employees),”

It’s not only a way to have familiar faces work the restaurant, but it also lets customers experience more of what McDonald’s has to offer.

“They’re probably going to try something besides their usual egg McMuffin so it’s a way of sampling different products,” Descher said.

While the ownership group is doing what it can to bring in new talent, they are also taking care of people already on the payroll.

“If you have not graduated from high school we will pay for your GED,” HR manager Gail Gilliard said.

That’s just one of the perks employees get. Crew members get $2,500 a year for college tuition, while managers get $3,000 a year. Straight-A students also get a $50 bonus every semester.

“We do have some good incentives for the employees, kind of an incentive for them to work harder,” Gilliard said.

However, until more help comes through the door, owners ask customers to be patient a little longer.

“Hopefully soon it will lighten up and we will be able to get more people,” Descher said.

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