I just returned from doing a two-day Business Management Workshop for the customers of a large cabinet manufacturer. There were 21 owners/managers in attendance representing 17 different businesses.
I was pleased and somewhat surprised to learn that the majority of attendees are enjoying a fairly nice increase in sales revenues so far this year. And, they are cautiously optimistic that this trend will extend into 2013. The attendees agreed that they are coming out of the recession stronger than when it started. I suspect that many of you feel the same way.
I submit that a truly successful kitchen and bath firm manager must be equally strong in all of the major areas of business management. Most of you are pretty strong in marketing, design and sales, but weak in the areas of financial management and human resource management. In fact, at each workshop, we do a self evaluation/appraisal and this fact is proven by the results of that over and over.
One of the critical areas of human resources is recruitment: Where and how do you find good people?
FINDING GOOD PEOPLE
I strongly believe that people are your most important asset and that your company will only be as strong as your weakest employee. The employee recruitment process is a crucial aspect of running a successful business. Yet almost everyone treats hiring as a necessary evil only to be done when it is absolutely necessary. Adopting a different attitude and philosophy about recruiting and hiring employees can provide the edge necessary to get the best employees…faster and for less money.
Start by understanding what employee recruiting is all about. Think of recruiting as an ongoing, never-ending process designed to develop a group of qualified candidates. There are two main parts to this process.
First, the search for new employees needs to be an ongoing process. If you recruit only when a position is open, you will always be in a reactive mode. Recruiting is a bit like selling. You’re always on the lookout for new sales opportunities and the same is true in your efforts to hire the very best people.
Secondly, whenever possible, you want to have a choice of qualified candidates. To do this, it is necessary to understand exactly what the business needs and what skills, behaviors, experience and education the candidates need to be successful in your business environment.
Knowing what to look for and relentlessly trying to find these people are the keys to successfully recruiting and hiring top employees.
If you understand and can adopt the correct philosophy, your next step is to develop a recruiting strategy. A well-thought-out, comprehensive, step-by-step strategy will be your guide in helping develop a list of qualified candidates. A good recruiting strategy includes: how much money to spend, where to look, when to hire and who should do the recruiting.
One absolute truth is that in our great kitchen and bath industry, there is no “one source” for finding candidates. Your recruiting sources are only limited by your imagination. Successfully recruiting the right people involves using multiple sources. There is a fair amount of trial and error utilized when trying to attract candidates to your business.
A big part of the recruiting strategy is to decide how best to deploy resources. Classified ads, online postings, headhunters etc. are all legitimate recruiting sources but your specific situation should determine which is best. In my next article I’ll go into more depth on the various sources available for kitchen and bath recruiting.
EMPLOYEE REFERRAL PROGRAM
One thing you should absolutely consider is having an employee referral program. Many folks have told me that candidates referred by existing employees, family, reps and friends have turned out to be consistently higher performing employees. Therefore, it makes sense to include an employee referral component into your recruiting strategy.
Finding and attracting top employees is not free. There are costs in money, time and resources. It’s too easy to throw a bunch of money and time at recruiting without getting a good return. You need to plan for – and track – all expenditures.
It’s possible that you’ve been guilty (as I was early in my career) of being too anxious to fill an opening. The time and energy required in the whole hiring process often takes a back seat to other pressing issues…like driving sales, solving problems and worrying about cash flow. This lack of attention leads to bringing in the wrong person, having to go through the termination process and then starting all over again. This is costly, tiring and demoralizing to the whole team. Set a standard of getting it right the first time.
There are many recruiting services available, including headhunters, search firms, consultants and various online recruiting services. There is also software available to help you accomplish the job. The recruiting stage of the hiring process is a lot like fishing: Success depends on not only how well you do it, but where you do it and what “bait” you use.
I can honestly share that the best employees I had when I owned my business were people that we “grew” from within the company. We tried very hard to hire people that would fit our “culture” and our “family.” Certainly a good personality was key, but education, drive, intelligence, motivation and good communication skills were all things that we looked for as well. We prided ourselves in trying to develop and maintain a professional environment, but also a workplace that was fun, where people were happy, motivated and well compensated.
We worked very hard to hire the best, train the best, communicate the best, motivate the best and compensate the best. As we achieved success in these areas, word got out on the street that “they are a great place to work.” We found people – good, well qualified people – knocking on our door. Needless to say, this made our recruiting a lot easier and more successful. So please, always be conscious of working as hard as you can to strengthen or replace your weakest link.