23 Ways Shop Owners Find and Keep Stellar Employees

Staffing your shop is like country music. You either love it or hate it. This is because it's risky delegating key tasks to people who aren't as invested in your shop as you are. Simply stated, if your employees work hard and care, they will be a huge help. If they sit around waiting for their paycheck or regularly make costly errors, they will be a burden. If you've ever wondered how your peers hire and keep great team members, you’re in the right place.

Image of two girls at an ice-cream shop

Here's some advice from current frozen dessert shop owners:

  1. Hire a responsible adult as a supervisor. They’ll set the standard for the younger workers.
  2. Hire seasonal employees, then invite back those who shine. This way you can avoid directly firing people.
  3. Choose one thing to focus on at a time with your team. You need to pick your battles as you help your staff improve.
  4. Make lists of the daily tasks needed for opening your shop, running it effectively, and closing it down at night. Have employees initial each item to show they have properly completed the tasks.
  5. Create an employee handbook. You can even partner with an HR company to help you out. It's hard for your team to win when they don't know the rules of the game.
  6. Identify the top performers and make them shift leaders. This way, they can help lift struggling employees and know you trust them.
  7. Offer rewards for positive behaviors like cleanliness, worth ethic, attitude, and shift flexibility. Cash works best.
  8. Rotate team leads daily. The team lead for the day is responsible for getting things done. Rotating this role gives each employee personal responsibility for the shop and encourages cooperation.
  9. Address issues quickly with the person responsible. This allows you to give targeted feedback in a timely manner and swiftly correct mistakes.
  10. Ensure every worker knows their role. If each person has specific jobs to look after they can claim ownership and be recognized for stellar performance.
  11. If you have younger employees, let them loose! The robust energy and tech skills they have are assets. Let them make TikToks and other social media content for your business. If you give them creative freedom, they might pleasantly surprise you with what they produce.
  12. Intentionally create a fun company culture. Inviting your employees to have a good time while working will make customers feel welcome and want to return. Remember: ice cream shops are meant to be fun!
  13. Center your team around a shared goal. If you hit the mark, you can take everybody out to lunch or give them a gift card. Use incentives to make your shop’s success your employees' priority.
  14. Make t-shirts/uniforms for your shop that showcase your brand and culture. This will add a sense of unity and pride to your team. You can even sell the shirts to customers so they also feel included.
  15. Have a tip jar. This invites your crew to level up their customer service (so they can level up their paycheck).
  16. Work happily alongside your staff. This shows them you understand their challenges and allows them to get to know and respect you.
  17. Make shifts that start after school starts and end before school's out. This will allow workers with children to continue working for you once the school year begins. Your teenage workers can fill in for the evening hours.
  18. Make sure your shop pays a bit more than your competitors. This will keep your employees from leaving your company to make more money at a competitor's frozen dessert business.
  19. Don’t fear using disciplinary action when necessary. Establishing standards and weeding through “bad apples” will spare you a million headaches later on.
  20. Try name tags! If you have younger workers it may be best to use fun nicknames to provide fun and variety to your shop while protecting younger team members from creeps.
  21. Encourage good attitudes from your staff. Post positive messages and reminders in back areas where they'll see them throughout the day.
  22. Play games with your employees on slow days. Challenge an employee to make an ice cream cone/shake while blindfolded. Boredom kills business.
  23. Hire 14-16-year-olds. This will help you have enough workers to smoothly run your shop at all times.

Ice cream employee

Wanna know a little secret?

Each of these 23 tips was taken from chats between ice cream shop owners in our exclusive Facebook group. If you're sick of not knowing how to run your business well, click the link above and join the 5.1K frozen dessert business leaders asking and answering tough industry questions every day! These folks understand that success is a team sport. They’ll be happy to give you their advice and support.

So, today you can walk away with 23 cool new ideas, or you can get a limitless supply. The difference is this link.

I’ll see you in the group!

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About the Author: Tim Porter

Tim is the CEO and people builder of FrozenDessertSupplies.com. In his free time, he enjoys being with his family, collecting watches, and Classic Mini Coopers.


Our purpose at Frozen Dessert Supplies is "Build People and Deliver Joy." That means that everything we do, from manufacturing to packaging to delivery, is to build you and your business and deliver joy to you. We also strive to build our employees and help them to be better people.

Our paper ice cream cups are made withFDA approved food-safe papercoated in a thin layer ofPE (Polyethylene). Our clear plastic cups, banana split boats, and plastic dome lids are made fromPET (Polyethylene Terephthalate). Our plastic spoons and straws are made fromPP (Polypropylene). Our eco-friendly ice cream cups are made fromFDA approved food-safe papercoated in a thin layer ofPLA (Polylactic Acid). PLA is plastic made from corn starch. Our eco-friendly spoons are also made from PLA. Our eco-friendly wooden spoons are made from FDA approvedsmooth birch wood.