Readers Speak Out
Finding the Right Fit for Your Workplace
Author: David Hammelburg
February, 2017 Issue
It costs business owners seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, according to Salesforce.com
There weren’t any warning signs. It’s a weekday evening, and I’m out to dinner with friends at a local restaurant. The evening starts out fine as the hostess shows us to our table, a transitioning waiter asks us if we’d like something to drink and we’re enjoying a nice night out. Conversation is flowing until one of us notices how long it’s been since we’d placed our order. Our empty glasses haven’t been refilled and it seems we’ve been forgotten.
We finally see our server to ask about our order and her reply is a distracted, “It’s coming.” Indeed it is, at least part of it, 15 minutes later. When we mention the missing meal to our server, she’s as dismissive as ever and leaves us baffled by her lack of attention, wondering why we’re spending our money there in the first place.
Sound familiar? Some might say the server was just having a bad day or maybe the kitchen was busy, while others might complain about how entitled millennials are with their poor work ethic and lack customer service skills.
As business owners, we know how important great customer service is to our success. Between anonymous online reviews, social media posts, and blogs, the business we pour our time and money into is subject to constant scrutiny. One bad review can tarnish an otherwise solid reputation that we’ve worked so hard to create.
It costs business owners seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, according to Salesforce.com. With that in mind, it’s no surprise the most common frustration I hear from employers is the ongoing struggle to find and retain qualified, motivated, and reliable employees. Here are three key strategies to hiring right the first time and working with new employees.
The right fit. Make sure a potential employee has the necessary skills, experience and education to successfully tackle the job. Employees must clearly communicate and work well with co-workers and managers and fit in with your company culture. Take advantage of the myriad of online employer resources designed to help you weed out unsuitable candidates. (https://www.thebalance.com/best-interview-questions-for-employers-to-ask-applicants-1918483.)
Proper training. Take the time to prepare a written manual. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should provide a clear outline of steps needed to complete tasks as well as troubleshoot when things don’t go as planned. Allow adequate time for employees to retain the information and offer a platform for feedback. It’s crucial to reach out and provide ongoing support. And remember to regularly brush up on classic business resources such as “The Great Game of Business” by John Stack for new ways to teach employees about teamwork and how business works.
Meaningful work. According to the Gallup Poll (April 2016), nearly half of workers polled didn’t feel “engaged” by their work. When employees don’t feel involved, enthusiastic or committed to their work, there’s no reason for them to give you their best efforts so give them an opportunity to make a difference. Consider encouraging them to engage in something meaningful that combines their work with an outside interest that compliments your business or at minimum sheds a good light on you: sponsor a school event, raise money for a nonprofit, or volunteer to support community based projects.
It’s easy to sit back and complain about the poor service we receive, but that doesn’t fix the problem. If we want more qualified, skilled employees, we have to be part of the solution. As employers, we can lead by example through job shadows, internships, certifications and mentoring.
Career Technical Education (CTE) and Vocational Training are two ways schools are preparing students to enter the workforce but aside from that, most teachers don’t have the time or the experience to teach real world business skills. That’s where Boomerang Plus comes in.
Boomerang Plus is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our mission is to teach students real-world job skills to better prepare them to enter the workplace. We connect students with businesses, working around your schedule, and provide students the opportunity to learn about your business, hear about your background and understand what you look for when hiring employees. By sharing your story, you’ve become part of the solution.
For further resources, go to: Sonoma County Office of Education-CTE: http://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/career-technical.html; Economic Development Board: http://sonomaedb.org/Current-Projects/Year-of-the-Entrepreneur/; and Boomerang Plus: www.BoomerangPlus.org
David Hamelburg is an entrepreneur and founder of Boomerang Plus, a nonprofit organization that offers internships and operates a student-run screen printing shop. Your orders are used as teaching tools for students to learn graphic design, marketing, and other valuable business skills. If you would like to support local students, please email email@example.com.
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