Chipotle exec explains long term benefits of working a fast food job
With over 65,000 employees nationwide, not only does Chipotle Mexican Grill have a menu to heat up your taste buds, but a thriving workforce as well.
What does it take to thrive and develop your career at a fast-food outlet? We’ve talked with Mike Ferguson, director of compensation and benefits, who has worked for the company for over a decade.
Hcareers: Is hiring demand high? What kinds of positions are you most in need of filling?
Ferguson: Our search for new team members is ongoing – with a new restaurant opening every two days, we’re constantly recruiting new crew members and managers at all levels nationwide.
Hcareers: What is the average trajectory for a Chipotle employee?
Ferguson: We don’t just offer employees a job, we offer them a career. On average, the journey from crew to general manager is about three years. We promoted more than 11,000 team members in to management roles last year.
Hcareers: What percentage stay and move up to management or corporate level?
Ferguson: More than 90 percent of our managers are promoted from within, which is a testament to our focus on training and development in the restaurant. We also encourage our team members to pursue alternative career paths within the company based on their interests and passions.
Hcareers: What kind of new employee training does Chipotle provide?
Ferguson: We have created a comprehensive training program to coach new employees through all their responsibilities in the restaurant – from preparing fresh ingredients every day, how to use classic cooking techniques, to serving up a great customer experience on the line. Training at Chipotle is twofold: In addition to instructional videos found on iPads in each restaurant, our managers are also committed to mentoring and developing employees as they gain new skills and move along our career path. Chipotle employees can also earn their college degree for as little as $250 per year. By teaming up with Guild Education, we’ve made it more affordable than ever to go back to school. Through our new educational assistance program, full-and part-time employees can continue growing their careers with perks like tuition assistance, discounted classes and credit hours for on-the-job training.
Hcareers: Why is work experience for a fast food establishment beneficial to one’s career in hospitality?
Ferguson: Our employees are basically given a crash course in business and culinary training when they join our team. As a general manager, our employees are managing a multi-million-dollar business with a team of 30 or so employees. They learn how to build sales, take inventory, count cash, and perhaps most importantly for a career in hospitality, serve up an excellent guest experience.
Hcareers: What lessons, teachings are valuable and unique to working in a fast-food outlet?
Ferguson: Unlike normal fast food restaurants, Chipotle is all about serving food fast without sacrificing quality. This idea is engrained in our mission: to ensure better food made from real ingredients is accessible to everyone. As part of our commitment to this mission, Chipotle employees develop critical culinary, customer service, and management skills that you won’t find in other industries.
Hcareers: What advice can you offer those interested in hospitality in relation to getting work experience at a fast food outlet?
Ferguson: At Chipotle, we’re looking for energetic, enthusiastic people who are eager to start learning and growing their career. Even if your existing skill set isn’t a perfect match for what we do, passion and drive can take you a long way on our team.