- Make It a Sales Campaign
Richard G. Ensman, Jr.
Day after day, month after month, your business is dependent on
sales. So it's not surprising that much of your attention is focused
on sales strategy, promotion, and customer outreach. But in this
day and age of tight labor, the quality of your business - and in
some cases its very survival - also depends on another type of sales:
selling prospective employees on the benefits of working for you.
Think about it: Without good employees you can't function. Without
great employees, you can't grow. And unless you can sell the merits
of your operation to prospective employees, you'll leave your ability
to attract good, or even great, employees largely to chance.
While there's no sure-fire way to attract employees in every circumstance,
employers everywhere have learned a variety of techniques that manage
to generate interest from prospective employees - and help forge
a quality workforce. Here are a few of them:
Identify Your Strengths from an Employee's Standpoint
Why do people work for you? Some of the answers are obvious,
and involve traditional motivators like wages and benefits. But
what distinguishes you from other employers? Is your workplace "culture"
informal and team-spirited? Do you offer social opportunities for
employees? What about educational opportunities? Some operators
offer their Latino employees ESL (English Second Language) classes,
which benefit both employee and employer. Do you provide employees
with protection from the elements in prep and finishing areas? Are
working conditions at your wash unusually pleasant? Do you offer
incentives for work well done? If you're not sure why employees
might want to work for you, there's a simple way to find out: Pose
the question to good employees who work for you now! The answers
could provide important recruiting tips for you. The result should
be a clear positioning statement outlining the tangible and intangible
benefits you offer prospective employees.
Craft Your Identity
Once you develop your positioning statement, ask yourself: How
do I articulate that statement? Answer the question in terms of
appealing to prospective employees. If your wash is known for its
employee gatherings and team spirit, for example, you might create
an identity built around the theme, "Belong - Join Team Clean!"
You want a key message, perhaps expressed as a slogan, which can
be supported by graphics and used in recruiting materials.
Once you know what attracts employees, you're ready to develop
promotional tools that paint a positive picture of your business.
The tools of the trade are, in many instances, the same tools you'd
use to sell anything else - brochures, advertisements, free promotional
items, motivating correspondence, a strong employee-related Internet
presence, etc. Each of these tools should be geared toward the employees
you're trying to recruit. For example, if you're looking for high
school students, colorful posters or giveaway cards that emphasize
part-time work and training opportunities might be in order, especially
if you arrange for distribution at local teen events. The goal is
to have a few key promotional vehicles capable of attracting the
attention and interest of prospective employees.
Make It Convenient Many employers are discovering that traditional
applicant-employer communication only ends up screening out many
good candidates. The rule of thumb today is to give prospective
employees multiple ways to make their interest known, and then make
communication as easy as possible. Yes, traditional mail-in application
forms and resumes are still okay, but don't hesitate to allow applicants
to fax resumes, or to paste them into a "reply" box on
your web site. If you distribute paper applications widely, enclose
a self-addressed, stamped envelope, or arrange "drop-off"
locations around the community. Anyone with an interest in working
for you should find that passing an application or resume along
is incredibly easy and fast.
Track Potential Candidates
You "track" existing employees in predictable ways.
You create a personnel file whenever you hire an individual. And
you have a payroll file, containing a record of time worked, absences,
and benefits. But consider expanding your record-keeping to include
prospective employees. How do you build these records? Invite referrals
from present employees. Advertise for positions that are not yet
open. And include everyone who contacts your business for any reason
- even vendors and customers. There is no need to track a lot of
information - names, addresses, telephone numbers, interests, and
skills may well be enough. When a job opens up, you'll have a ready-made
database of people you can call. Such an inventory of pre-qualified
employees will reduce stress when recruiting time rolls around.
While you might make an impression on prospective employees
through your positioning strategy, recruiting materials, and referral
programs, you have one more task ahead of you: continuing these
impressions whenever you're in personal communication with prospective
employees. How? Answer correspondence promptly. Offer prospective
employees a get-to-know-you tour of your car-care facility. Invite
individuals to call you anytime with questions. Is this going too
far? Not at all. Hospitality - and more specifically, your unique
brand of hospitality - is a powerful selling tool, and can clinch
many a sale when you're trying to woo employees. Create a standard
of warmth and hospitality that prospective employees will never
Finally, a Great Workplace
You've done the work, and you've recruited a topnotch employee
or two (or more). What now? You know the answer: positive supervision,
morale-boosting activities, and continuing efforts to foster a sense
of ownership among your people. Aim high in your attempt to make
your workplace great, and you'll go a long way toward retaining
the great people you recruited.
Richard G. Ensman, Jr. is a Rochester, NY-based freelance writer.