Turf Magazine - April, 2012

FEATURES

Hiring Right the First Time for Every Position

By Paul Wolbert

Hiring is a tough business. It takes patience careful analysis and the right screening. With so many talented people out of work, take your time to find the one that really fits the bill. He or she is out there.

It's a natural part of the business evolution for small businesses. At first you need generalists in most positions. You need someone to run all aspects of your marketing or operations, for example. But as your business evolves and grows, you'll need people with specific skill sets rather than generalists to keep your business growing.

Most businesses may put great effort into hiring for higher-profile positions, but devote less effort and scrutiny to hiring "lesser" hires. Joe Widgetmaker can't do any harm out of sight, they assume. This can be misguided and costly. Every employee - whether on the front line or in the back office - can directly impact a customer's perception of the business.

Smart business owners know that they can't cut corners in staffing, or the fallout could be devastating. Here are several tips for hiring right the first time and avoiding costly and disruptive problems that might otherwise tarnish a company's image - or worse:

  • Review your needs. Business is picking up and you're eager to bring on additional employees. The help you need, however, may already be on staff. Before posting a help wanted sign, conduct a needs analysis.

    What talent do you already have in your company? Can current staff take on the additional duties? Determining if you're maximizing your existing workforce will help you avoid making an unnecessary hire and clarify which employees can best fuel the company's growth.
  • Develop job descriptions. Employees need to know what is expected of them and how they will be evaluated. If descriptions aren't already available, create a detailed outline of each position. This should include any requirements such as physical demands, the job's responsibilities, and how the employee will be evaluated.
  • Get to know your candidates. In the rush to bring on new staff it may be tempting to gloss over in-depth interviews, but a thorough review is key to ensuring an applicant is not only qualified, but truly reflects your company's mission and values.

    If possible, schedule a brief telephone call to screen each candidate before inviting the top prospects in for face-to-face interviews. While conducting the interview, be sure to touch not only on experience, but also on each applicant's personality and work philosophy. This will help determine the best fit.
  • Conduct a background check. While comprehensive screenings can be costly, they are vital at all levels. Spending time and money now to ensure an applicant is permitted to work in the United States, has no criminal or relevant civil history, and also has a clean driving record can prevent problems later on, including possible fines and even legal issues.
  • Be on the lookout for good people. Don't just rely on newspaper advertising when you have an opening. Encourage your employees to recommend people to you. Talk positively about your company wherever you go, and ask your employees to do the same.
  • Move quickly. Don't lose a candidate to another employer because you moved too slowly. The hiring timeline of the past no longer works.
  • You hired someone. Once the applicant has accepted the job offer and completed any written forms required, inform the other candidates (via letter or phone) that the position for which they applied at your company has been filled. Sincerely thank the other candidates for their interest in working for your company, and perhaps even consider a close runner-up for another position within your company.

Growing companies eager to gain extra hands should be thorough in their hiring process so they land the next great employees, or risk making a costly hiring mistake. Investing the time and resources in the recruiting process helps keep a business on the right track to continued expansion before ever saying, "You're hired!"

In summary, the more you do at the beginning of the hiring process the fewer problems you will encounter during the process and after the person is hired. It is much easier and less-expensive to hire right the first time then to do it over and over for the same position, or to deal with people who are not the right fit for the job. Nothing you do will be more important than getting the right people into the right jobs.

If your company deals with frequent hiring situations, it's time to get key staff members up to speed on "hiring right."

With more than 30 years of experience in franchising, sales and business operations, Paul Wolbert knows franchising like the back of his hand. He helps potential new franchisees make their decision to come into the market, and his in-depth knowledge of the green industry allows him to keep the U.S. Lawns marketing plan on target for franchisees' growth and for all divisions of U.S. Lawn's business to thrive in any economy. He has helped build the U.S. Lawn business to where it is today.