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October 2, 2018

Finding and Hiring Best-in-Class Service

Last week I was walking into a classy hotel in Minneapolis for the Greg Brooks Executive Round Table. While thinking about topics to be covered, I met Roy; the doorman, valet and luggage porter. I was impressed with his energy, enthusiasm and communication skills. Unlikely to be a college student, being it was a Tuesday morning and he was working, I was intrigued as to his story. He revealed that he is now 28 years old, had graduated from high school in 2008 and assessed that taking on a large college debt at that time didn’t make sense. He had watched an older sister go to college only to be burdened by a heavy debt load for a degree that was not benefiting her current career. His girlfriend now graduating from college, Roy is hoping to get married and buy a home soon; considering what direction to take his career, he looked to me for advice. 

His current compensation as a bellhop is $20,000 in hourly wages, he receives another $25,000-30,000 per year in tips, bringing his total income to $45,000- $50,000. His present need for greater financial security demands a career that will enable him to grow and advance.  His position at the hotel, while stable, offers no career growth opportunity. He mentioned the steamfitter and electrical trades as respectable options. The irony was shocking to me. I was preparing to help some 50 presidents solve their recruiting challenges – they all walked by Roy, likely tipped him as he carried their bags or valeted their cars, never even considering that he could be the solution to their problems. An eager, smart and hungry 28-year-old with a proven history of success delivering best-in-class customer service and an income that is over 50% commission-based. Hiring Roy as a junior outside salesperson and watching him command and conquer is where I would place my bet.


Focus your mindset; be recruiting 24/7

Why is Roy the bellhop not being recruited? Are leaders entrenched in the “must have sawdust in their veins” theory? Or are they just not accustomed to actively recruiting themselves? The first step is shifting your mindset, by looking for talent everywhere.


Shift your network

Leaders are often not directly engaged in solving their hiring problems as their networks are typically not well-suited to fit their recruiting needs. Your primary network consists of your family, friends and customers.  None of these pools are adequate when it comes to meeting your talent needs. The traditional practice of having the HR department handle recruiting by advertising is the old solution.  We all fall into ruts, attempting to solve new problems with old solutions is the paradigm that needs a shift. Where do truck drivers and warehouse workers spend their time? Eating breakfast and lunch at the local truck stop. If I wanted to hire the best truck drivers, I would go to local truck stops and offer the waitstaff $100 gift cards for every driver they referred to me or hire a crew to wash windshields and hand out business cards. You could have your yard manager certified to train CDL drivers.  Sitting on the board at a technical college or leading certification processes for your focus area are proven best practices. Stop waiting for candidates to apply online – reach out, beyond your standard network, and draw them to you.  The recruiter who is action-oriented, thinks outside the box and gets up-close and personal, will out-recruit his competition every time.


Shift your thinking and create new solutions

Some operators walk into a restaurant and think about the supply chain logistics of the tomatoes in their caprese salad, some think about customer turnover at the tables and the revenue capacity of the business.  The best recruiting leaders think about how similar the kitchen operations are to warehouse or yard operations.  They assess the wait staff, looking for that individual with an engaging personality and the right level of curiosity and desire to serve their company.  How well suited is a Starbucks employee for an inside sales role?  A barista awarded Best in Class for service, with a history of success and arriving to work by 5:30 am, deserves more than a good tip.  These qualities would be #1 and #2 on my scorecard for a counter sales role. 


It’s about mentorship and career path growth

Think about Roy. What is it that Roy wants that his current employer is unable to provide? Career options and growth without college debt, as well as mentorship and personal development. Our industry lines up perfectly to provide what younger talent desires.  We have never been an industry that requires a bachelor’s degree to enter, rather enthusiasm, curiosity and a willingness to be trained on the job are preferred traits. Shift your personal recruiting process to search out the Roys. As a leader, your greatest competitive edge for recruiting talent is your commitment to their personal development. Focus on providing mentorship and career growth opportunities and you will solve your toughest recruiting challenges.

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