For more than 15 years you’ve heard me say “People are your most
important asset.” If you hire right, train, communicate, motivate
and compensate well, all of your other assets will grow. Nothing
affects your bottom line more than your people.
If you’re the typical kitchen and bath dealer, you will have
between five and 10 employees. If one, two or, Heaven forbid, three
or more of these people are not the “right” people for the jobs
they’re performing, it will take a lot more hard work and expense
to achieve the ultimate success you desire and deserve.
While there has been an incredible amount of change in our
industry in the past 10 years, how kitchen and bath dealers hire,
train and retain employees has, unfortunately, not changed. Owners
and managers are so busy playing fire chief and police officer that
they will hire the first warm body that can fill a space. Or, they
go by “gut” feel. Next, they train haphazardly and manage by
Hiring How-To tips
At the K&BDN/NKBA “Managing
for Profits” seminars, we talked about the costs of poor hiring.
For example, let’s say you’ve gone through the whole exercise of
hiring a new salesperson. The person’s annual compensation is
geared to be about $80,000 when he comes up to speed. Let’s also
assume that you didn’t do the full due diligence in checking
references, having two or more people involved in the interviewing
process, etc. Now, it’s six months later, and it’s obvious this is
not the right person. So, you let him go and have to start all over
The U.S. Department of Labor and other professional human
resource people will tell you that it will cost the company
anywhere from 33 to 50 percent of the employee’s annual
compensation to replace that person and this doesn’t include lost
sales and productivity, which are significant. Now, add in the
costs related to starting all over. In this example, that original
$80,000 hire could cost you $100,000 or more.
All of this can be avoided by hiring right the first time. While
you won’t make the right decision every time, by practicing good
hiring rules you can hope to achieve an 80 percent success
When reviewing resumes and application forms, be aware that many
applicants will make false statements in order to get a job; they
will not always tell the truth in the interviewing process, and
some may even falsify records. In addition, surveys reflect that 35
percent of applicants have stolen from previous employers, and 31
percent have abused drugs and/or alcohol. That’s the bad news. The
good news is that you can determine who the “bad guys” are by being
more thorough in your hiring procedures. Drug screening and
background checks are a good start, but still not enough.
Many firms are utilizing pre-employment integrity assessments to
reduce the chance of error. These tests can alert employers of
behaviors and attitudes that could be a detriment to the success of
the business. There are a lot of pre-employment assessments
available, so do your homework before selecting one.
Also, when starting the hiring process, be sure you have a
detailed written job description. Spell out who the supervisor will
be, who may report to the candidate and everything involved in
performing the job successfully. List education and experience
requirements and establish a compensation range (high and low, with
all of the benefits listed). Identify the traits and skills that
will help the candidate succeed.
Do a study of the successful top performers who work or have
worked for you. Ask peers in the industry what traits and skills
they look for. By documenting this information you can develop a
“job success pattern.” Use this to help evaluate future
Every company has its own “culture.” Know what yours is before
you begin the hiring process. You only want to hire people that
will be a good culture fit. Some characteristics to be aware of are
personality, interests, energy level, competitiveness, self
reliance, common sense and persistence. It’s not previous work
experience or level of education that leads to success in a job
it’s how the candidate will fit or “match up” with your culture and
the characteristics you’re looking for that will lead to success in
In addition, don’t depend upon the boss’ interview and gut
alone. Involve two or more fellow employees in the interview
process. Get input from the team. Compare notes and make a
Too many managers get hung up
in the day-to-day people challenges: tardiness, attendance,
conflict, poor morale, time management, follow-up etc., etc. They
don’t take the time (or have the time) to be a trainer, coach and
mentor. And, too often, managers get so involved in these
time-consuming people issues that they don’t have the time to
perform their many other responsibilities, such as selling,
designing, meeting with manufacturers’ reps, etc.
Every kitchen and bath dealer should have a formal, written
training program that begins day one and never ends. Training helps
employees with self confidence, self esteem, productivity and
remuneration. The company will gain increased productivity and you
will have a happier team member and a more self-reliant employee.
Your clients will get better overall service and your vendors will
gain increased sales of their products.
Involve the whole staff with training. Get input from each
member on what’s needed individually and collectively. Assign
specific products to a team member and have that person do all of
the homework to make a presentation to the rest of the team.
Since the kitchen and bath industry is built on relationships,
who you hire will have a lot to do with the success of the
relationships you need to foster and build with your clients. If
your whole team from management to sales to support staff is
competent, qualified and working in the right job, your employees
will benefit and so will the business. Morale, teamwork and
productivity will improve.