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Hire and Higher (Part 1)

Drycleaning owners give views on best hiring practices

CHICAGO — We all think we’re the best. We’re competitive. We shoot for the moon. We aim high and, heck, when we see the other person aiming high too, we aim even higher than high!

Here’s a for instance: American Airlines’ in-flight safety video is memorable. Ever seen it? It’s clever, upbeat, and concludes with, “We hope you have a great flight because Great is what we’re going for!”

Let’s morph that theme right on over to the hiring of great employees for your garment care business.

Do you ever think about improving your hiring practices at your drycleaning operation? What level do you consider your hiring to be at? Is it ... great? And is Great what you’re going for, too?

Here are two drycleaning operators to share with you, in their own words, their own separate views about how they handle hiring. It’s probably the single-most talked-about topic in the drycleaning industry today with owners, and surely a high-higher-highest priority on any owner’s must-do list.

We have a “go” for Great. Let’s go...

Amber Kraemer, office manager at Jones Cleaning Center in Fresno, California, and Joe Ziccarelli, owner of Owl Cleaners in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, will weigh in with their own views and experiences on best hiring practices.

DESIRE IS HIGHER

“I am a second-generation family member working in our family business, Jones Cleaning Centers Inc., in Fresno, Calif.

“My name is Amber Kraemer, and currently I am the office manager. I also fill the shoes as IT tech, phone operator, human resource specialist, social media manager, and any job that needs to be done.

“I have worked in the family drycleaning business since the young age of about 12, when I started marking in clothes. I spent several years working the front counter and marking in, until I moved up to our office where I was in charge of the accounts receivable and cash deposits,” she says.

“When we moved our plant to our current location, I was our production manager for many years,” Kraemer points out.

Her company has been in business for 50 years this year, and she has been a part of that for 25 years. Her firm has two locations in Fresno and operates two pick-up and delivery routes. Her cleaners, she says, “employs 24 awesome employees, many of who have been with us for over a decade or more!

“Our focus is quality dry cleaning and customer service, so employing great people is extremely vital to the success of our business!

“It is so important to have a cohesive team that works efficiently together in accomplishing our daily production requirements.

“The success of our operation begins at the front counter with the one-on-one customer interaction, and then flows through the production line and results in an expertly cleaned and pressed garment packaged and ready to be picked up.

“We are an affiliate of America’s Best Cleaners. This gives us a platform where we can discuss and connect with our colleagues and peers around the United States to discuss topics such as hiring practices.

“The drycleaning industry is always looking for qualified team members, especially those who have experience in the industry,” Kraemer says.

“I do believe hiring and training go hand-in-hand. I think it is important to find the right person and to train them well for the job they are to perform.

“I have found throughout the years that different personalities do better in different positions. Outgoing and extroverted personalities make amazing customer service representatives, or CSRs. They can connect and engage customers so easily.

“The more introverted personality types, like myself, are better behind a computer, on the telephone, or in production-type positions,” Kraemer continues.

Training is important, she believes, pointing out how her company dedicates training time for its newly hired team members.

“We have been using Indeed for our hiring practices for the last year and a half. We have found some awesome people that have joined our team through the service. The platform that it provides makes it easy to organize and keep track of potential candidates,” she relates.

“You can send candidates e-mails, assessments, and schedule interviews all on one platform. We tend to have a high turnover in our customer service department, generally speaking the candidates are younger and most are continuing their education or just getting into the workforce.

“We are always looking for CSRs and we do not require any experience for this position.

“For our production positions,” Kraemer continues, “experience is preferred but harder to find these days. Several of our production team members have been with us for many years, and we are thankful for that!”

Finding new production team members isn’t easy, she admits, adding that the training necessary is intensive and can be challenging for a lot of candidates.

“One question that I always ask candidates in the interviewing stage is what motivates them. If the candidate answers that they are motivated by money, I hire them!

“We have a handful of new hires that have proven to be successful! We are very happy to have found responsible, reliable and hardworking people who do a great job every day,” she says.

Kraemer concludes: “It takes a great team to produce a clean garment and we rely on all members of our team to do just that!

“We attribute a successful hire to the person’s desire to work in this industry. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it!”

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.