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Finding — and Keeping — the Right Team (Part 3)

Finding the right fit is better than finding someone right now

CHICAGO — When the pandemic eased and society returned to something approaching normal, many dry cleaners found themselves with too much to do and not enough staff to do it. For these businesses, the process of hiring was thrown into high gear — and sometimes not enough thought was put into making that process effective.

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at strategies to find people who are legitimately looking for work, and in Part 2, we examined the interviewing process for finding the right talent for your business. Today, we’ll continue by looking at some common errors employers make in building their teams.

Hiring Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them

Time is often against dry cleaners looking to fill positions — whether they realize it or not, says Amy Wischmann. Wischmann oversees hiring at Benzinger’s Clothing Care, a drycleaning business with five locations and 40 employees in the Buffalo, New York, area.

“One big mistake when it comes to hiring is letting too much time pass after receiving an application and not having a sense of urgency about it,” she says. “You can’t let off the gas. You have to be quick in responding. I have responses for (job site) Indeed come right to my phone, so if I see someone we really should speak with, I can immediately reach out to them.”

Because of the law of supply and demand, there is increased competition for a smaller labor pool, and cleaners need to consider this.

“The shorter you can make that time interval between when they apply and when you reach out to them, the better,” Wischmann says. “Applicants have their lines in the water everywhere. Whoever gets them in the door the quickest obviously has a huge advantage.”

This is especially true for younger applicants, she adds, who are used to texting and getting an immediate response.

“You have to stay in touch with them and keep them interested,” says Wischmann. “If we can’t set up the in-person interview for a few days, I try to reach out to them at least a couple of times more to say, ‘I haven’t forgotten about you.’ I might send them an email with a job description attached and keep the lines of communication open.”

One of the benefits of having an ongoing hiring strategy is that it helps owners avoid costly mistakes.

“Don’t hire out of desperation,” says Jennifer Whitmarsh, a member of The Route Pros, a drycleaning consulting firm. “We’ve all been guilty of that at some point, when we feel like we just need a warm body, and we end up hiring someone and trying to make them fit. Ultimately, three months down the road, it doesn’t work, and now we’re back to square one, and we’ve wasted all that time.”

Once cleaners make their hire, getting started on the right foot is key to building this new relationship.

“Make sure you have a strong onboarding process, so you don’t lose them quickly,” Wischmann says. “Have someone there who’s dedicated that first day to just making sure that person is greeted and has someone to follow around and to introduce them to everybody. It’s great to make them feel welcome that very first day.”

Working the Phone Skills

The best interviewing tool in an employer’s tool kit is the telephone, Wischmann says.

“We always screen with the phone and do phone interviews first,” she says. “It saves you a ton of time. I’d much rather have someone not show up for a phone interview than not show for an in-person interview.”

Part of effectively using the phone in hiring is understanding what to look for — another reason Wischmann says it’s good to have one person at the company responsible for this stage of the process.

“You can get a good sense when you hear someone’s voice and listen to how they respond to questions,” she says. “I describe very clearly for them exactly what the job entails, and then ask if they are interested in pursuing this. It will cut one way or the other. They’ll either tell you that, yes, it’s something they’re interested in, or, if they waver at all after hearing what the job is like, I typically won’t pursue an in-person interview with them.”

Come back Tuesday for the conclusion of this series, when we’ll look at ways to retain valuable employees and keep them on your team. For Part 1 of this series, click HERE. For Part 2, click HERE.

Man selecting applicatants from an array of choices

Caption: (Image licensed by Ingram Image)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].