- Subway is looking to hire 40,000 employees this month throughout its U.S. system, with roles ranging form entry-level to management positions, according to an email sent to Restaurant Dive. Subway employees are eligible for benefits including academic scholarships, preferred rates on higher education tuition, health and wellness perks and technology savings.
- This hiring initiative is "boosted by strong sales, continued restaurant growth and excitement about what's to come," the company said.
- However, this hiring blitz follows a history of sluggish unit and sales growth for Subway. Restaurant Business reports that the chain closed as many as 10% of its restaurants last year, or roughly 2,200 to 2,400 locations. Between 2015 and 2020, the system lost 12% of its units, and pre-pandemic Subway's sales volumes per unit were only about half of what rivals Jersey Mike's and Potbelly generated.
Subway's contracting system could explain why the chain's summer hiring target of 40,000 is 10,000 less than last summer's push.
Despite its closures, however, Subway remains the biggest chain in the country by unit count, with about 22,000 restaurants. Starbucks, for example, has just over 15,000 units in the U.S. In other words, a push to hire 40,000 employees isn't too surprising, even with the restaurant's problems. But Subway is facing more competition within that tight labor pool from chains with stronger sales and greater stability.
Most recently, some of Subway's franchisees have pushed against the chain's new melt sandwiches, claiming they present a safety hazard. This is the latest in a long string of schisms between Subway and its franchisees, ranging from accusations of rigging inspections to a lingering disconnect over the chain's Footlong promotion.
The restaurant industry added 187,000 jobs in April, but chains are clearly in need of more help considering recent and aggressive recruitment efforts. Subway's goal of hiring 40,000 employees isn't even the biggest hiring effort in the QSR space. Whataburger said in April that it plans to hire 50,000 employees, for example.
Over the past few weeks, Chipotle, Sonic and KFC said they had goals to add 20,000 workers each, while McDonald's held events last month to fill 25,000 positions in Texas alone. Notably, however, all of those chains have turned in strong performances through the pandemic, with plans to continue growing. Whataburger is planning net unit growth through franchising with new owner BDT Capital Partners, while privately-owned Sonic said it has experienced "high performance" during the pandemic. McDonald's, KFC and Chipotle have each proven they've been pandemic-proof, with net sales topping pre-pandemic levels, two-year same-store growth, record digital sales, respectively, and more. Such growth mandates a bigger employee roster to maintain service and support higher volumes.