In thinking about my next post, I started to ponder the recent challenges I’ve faced in my own business. Now, you all probably know that I don’t run a franchise, but a PR and marketing firm serving franchises. However, as an entrepreneur I face similar challenges to franchisors and franchisees alike. One such challenge is finding, recruiting, and retaining great talent.
No matter your business, this is the HARDEST area of running any business. I don’t care if you have the greatest pizza in the world made with the freshest ingredients grown on the most eco-friendly farm. If you don’t have strong employees making the dough, taking the orders, and delivering the product perfectly to your customers, you’ll fail.
Therefore, I’m pondering Jim Collins’ now famous point from Built to Last: It’s all about getting the right people on the bus. All of us have a different definition of who these people are. In fact, the definition continues to change over time until you learn what works for you.
I learned this the hard way about one year ago. Now, I’ve been working in PR for more than 15 years. I had interviewed dozens of people, and hired and fired, but most of this was done while working for the “man” at past jobs. And not until I had to do it for my own company did I truly realize how hard it is.
I’m sure if you’re a franchisee reading this, you totally understand where I’m coming from. Also, if you’re a founder or senior executive at a franchisor, you get it as well. When you are looking to hire someone, you sit down and define the job description, roles, and responsibilities the person should have. Then you determine what type of experience the person should have to fit within your organization.
For me, one of the most important qualifications is training. We’re a small company, like for many of you who read this blog, and we need to hire people who understand our business and can jump in right away. No time for handholding. (Sound familiar? How many times have we written “self-starter” in a job ad?) But how does someone really determine who is a “self-starter?” There’s no Myers-Briggs study for that.
In full disclosure, this last point about training took some time to figure out. I went through at least three team members (and about two years) until I saw the light. After thinking people were effectively trained from past jobs, I realized that I only wanted to look at people who had worked for international agencies that I respected and served large brands. I know international agencies’ training programs are solid — since I used to work for one (back when I worked for the “man”). My last three hires all came from these types of agencies and had worked for large brands. The discipline you learn from these experiences translate well for my biz.
Another consideration is whether someone complements you or the other levels of the company they would work with. If you all have the same DNA, it won’t work. Personally, I’m a crazy details freak — some may call me anal — so I look to add more creative folks to my team, ones that will bring a new perspective to the businesses we support. Remember, every new hire you make adds or (more importantly) builds the culture in your company — especially in small companies. I learned this through poor hires I made several years ago. My culture was stagnant, boring, and lifeless. Culture cannot be created. It is built based on the people you hire, and how they interact with each other. (We’ll cover culture in a future post.)
OK, you’ve defined the role and the type of person you’d like to hire. Now you’ve got to find that person. So, you venture out to “market” the position with friends, colleagues, and job boards. You then pore through dozens and dozens of resumes to find that PERFECT hire.
You might be thinking: Does the perfect hire even exist? I’m here to tell you that in fact it does, based my recent experiences. And (don the ear muffs if you’re a job board) the perfect hire does not come from job boards or job Web sites. It comes from networking.
Virtual and in-person networking is the best means for this. Personally, I want my new team members to be fluent in social media, so I market positions on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn via my personal and business platforms. Those who respond through these challenges understand social media.
I also ask my employees who they think might be a great addition to our team. (Remember the importance of building culture.) I even offered a little incentive on the last hire. This last point was huge for us. All of my employees, with the exception of one, used to work together at a past company. In fact, some of them have already identified other people we should hire when we’re ready. They like their team members, and they in turn LOVE their work. Everyone wins in this equation.
One last point, and maybe an obvious one, is that GREAT talent is out there waiting to get hired. The talent pool could not be better now. Even if you’re not looking to hire tomorrow, see what’s out there. The greatest investment you can make in your business is people. Get them on your bus!
Lorne Fisher, CFE, is CEO/Managing Partner of Fish Consulting, a national PR & marketing firm specializing in serving mature and emerging franchise companies. He speaks frequently at various franchise conferences and serves as an instructor at the International Institute for Franchise Education at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Entrepreneurship in South Florida. Learn more at Fish’s Web site or Fish on Franchising blog. Contact Lorne via email or Twitter anytime.