In this episode, I answer a very common question most small businesses struggle with, which is
It is a vast topic and a very important one. You can have the best location, fresh deli food and cheap fuel price but without the right people behind your register, you won’t be able to see success. The right staffing is one of the very important keys to your success.
In this episode I discuss the following 10 step process how to hire, train and retain employees.
- Where and how to find the right people to hire?
- Asking the right question during interview
- Providing proper training
- Employee appearance
- Motivating and empowering your employees
- Teaching them marketing 101
- Rewarding the right behavior
- How to discipline bad behavior
- Setting up Target & goal oriented incentives
- Regular employee meetings and coaching
The book I want to mention today is called rich dad poor dad. By Robert Kiyosaki
It is a New York Times bestseller sold millions of copies; it has little over 4000 Customer reviews just on Amazon I am sure you can tell how popular this book really is. Let me just mention one observation from an editor’s review of this book, the poor and the middle-class work for money, but the rich have money working for them.
It is a great read; I know you will thank me after reading it.
Welcome to part 2 of the 6p’s of marketing mix, in last episode I addressed 2 of the 6 components of the marketing mix, if you haven’t heard the last episode, I highly recommend you listen to episode number 6 first, in that episode I explained what are the 6 P’s of marketing and covered the first two P’s which were place and process.
In today’s episode, I will try to answer a very common question for most small business owners which is How to find, hire, train and retain the right people. In this episode, I will try to answer that question along with a step by step process for you to follow for all your staffing needs. ‘People’ is also the 3rd ‘P’ of the 6 ‘P’s of marketing mix.
It is a huge topic and a very important one. You can have the best location, cheapest products, and gas but without the right people behind your register, you won’t be able to sell anything. The right staffing is one of the very important keys to your success, so let’s dive right in…
I broke this staffing part into a 10 step process, and I will discuss each in detail.
Where and how to find the right people to hire?
Often times I am sure every one of us have walked into a store and saw a notice on the front door that says “now hiring” for small retail business such as gas station business in my opinion it is not a good idea, why? Well, your target audience, in this case, is your surrounding neighborhood, so any and all applications that you will get are from the neighborhood. Let’s say you get 10 applications, and you meet and interview each of them, end up hiring one person out of the 10, chances are you may alienate the other 9 and some of those people who were your customers at first may not come to visit you afterwards, simply because you didn’t hire them.
Best practices to hire good people are through advertising in a way that covers your city or locality and not just in your neighborhood.
I have three suggestions on where to advertise and find people
- Run an ad on Craigslist, you may be surprised how often people look for jobs on craigslist, craigslist is an essential tool for lot of things, from selling your old couch, bicycle to hiring people to do your yard or carpentry work to hiring new employees. I use Craigslist every time I need help, I even hired a great bookkeeper from there.
- Word of mouth. You can ask some of your other employees if they know of any good and decent person they can recommend. Ask your friends, or other business owners that you know well, this way you at least have a reference where they are coming from.
- Hiring employees from other local retailers, sounds bad I know but again remember you are not doing anything illegal or unethical, let me explain- you go to your local burger joint and the lady that took your order was very courteous and professional. Strike up a conversation with her, compliment her on her professionalism let her know you own such and such business, and you are looking to hire some good and decent employees. Ask her if she knows anyone that she can recommend. Give her your business card. You will see out of 5 people you meet this way three will call you either with a recommendation, or they will call to apply for themselves. There are three reasons she may contact you, one: obviously people love compliments, second most employees do not feel appreciated enough at their current jobs. 3rd, everyone wants to move up at their job and eventually make more money. So take advantage of that.
Now that you have some applicants calling you, you need to give them each an application right? Where do you get these job applications? I am sure you can go to the local office supply store and pick a stack of them up but is that a good idea? The answer is No; those applications are very generic and not designed for your type of business. So its best to create one or modify an existing one you may already have that fits your needs. You can also go to my blog, and you will find a generic job application under the Resource tab that you can download and modify for your own needs.
When preparing a job application few things to keep in mind:
Absolutely no SS number on the application.
It is also a good idea not to ask about Race in a job application
Make sure to ask about their education level and previous employment history along with how many addresses they have lived in last five years. These three things can tell you a lot about a person. If an applicant held one job for last 5 years, lived in one address in that 5 years and has high school education, chances are he or she will be a good employee, compare to if an applicant had 4 jobs in last 5 years, moved 3 times in that same period and did not have a high school diploma.
When asking about previous employments, make sure to ask the name and contact information of the company along with the name of their supervisors. This way you can check their references. Remember it is a common practice for employers not to reveal any details of a current or former employee, so if you ask were they good or bad at their job, you may not get an answer, you may just have to read (hear in this case) between the lines. But they all can say if that person can be rehired or not. Your answer lies in that answer if they say he or she is can be rehired; you know they are saying they do recommend that person.
Asking the right question during interview
Once you find some good application, call a few of them for an interview, I always give them a simple math test to see if they can calculate basic add and subtract in their head. It is a good idea to ask a few hypothetical questions ranging from how to handle a customer service issue to an emergency situation like if someone ought to get sick inside what and how they would handle that emergency. Watch and listen and see if they use a commonsense approach to answering them or not. Then I ask them if they have any physical limitation which may prevent them from performing the normal duties and responsibilities of the store’s work, and if they are able to pick up 30lbs or not, remember it is important as any typical gas stations garbage can when full can weigh as much as 25-30 lbs, so it is important to know if they can or not. But do remember you cannot discriminate if they cannot lift that weight, but as long as you know if they cannot you can arrange someone else to pick that up
Next I usually ask if they can bring a background check of themselves from the local police dept, and I do offer to pay for that cost. It saves money and time to have them provide you with that report instead of you running a background check on them. Once all these things check off, go ahead and hire them. One more thing to make clear right before you hire them, do let them know that it is your company policy to hire people with a 60-90 days probation period. Meaning they can be let go in this 60 days anytime without giving them any reasons based on their performance.
Once you get the background check back, provided it is doable in your city and state, you hire them; there are some basic paperwork that you need to give them to fill out. I am sure everyone of you that is in this business have a set of paperwork that you give your new hire. But I would still like to go through a checklist of some paperwork I give to my new hires so you can match them with yours.
- Completed job Application that you already have
- W2 from IRS
- New hire Handbook (If you are a branded station, your oil company usually provide you with some basic new hire training material to hand out to each new hire)
- A disclaimer about the 60-day probation period (Where I explain for next 60 days they are on probation, and their job can be terminated based on poor performance, I have them sign it)
- Their criminal background check paper that brought to you keep it in their personnel file
- Copy of their Social security and Driver’s license
- Store Key responsibility Acknowledgment (In this one-page acknowledgment consent, I want each employee to sign stating that they understand the true responsibility of safeguarding the store key)
Remember some states require you to register all new employees you hire with the DOL(dept of labor) within seven days of hiring, if not there will be a fine imposed on you. So check with your state’s DOL and see if they require it. One more thing you need to find out about your state is if your state is an employer at will state or not. Alabama among many other states is an employer at will state. Meaning you can terminate anyone anytime without giving them any reason. Yes sounds odd I know and maybe I am oversimplifying it, but the essence is that you really do not have to give them much of a reason for the termination.
Providing proper training
Once you hire an employee, it is important to provide them with proper training. First give them a walk around the store and show them what you sell and how to stock them, how you merchandise them. Then show them how to restock the shelves and the coolers and how often that should be done. It is a good idea to have a checklist that you can hand them which details a typical cashier’s job duties and responsibilities, like what is expected of them before they start their shift and after they close their shifts. I usually provide three full days of training before I let any new employee working or running a shift all by themselves.
1st day I show them around then I put them with an experienced cashier so they can observe the operation of the cash register for at least 2 hours without touching the register at all. the second half of the day I let them get more hands-on training where they will start doing the transaction while the trainer stands next to them and guides them through each step.
2nd day, I again explain the checklist and let them do the preshift chores which usually involves restocking the coolers before taking over the shifts, making sure the fountain and coffee area is fully stocked, then they can go do a shift change again with a trainer but today they have to take the lead while the trainer will stand next to them.
3rd day, they will be totally on their own even though there is the trainer but not next to them instead I tell the trainer to go do other things away from the checkout stand so they can observe the new hire from a distance and see how they are doing. The new hire is only allowed to call the trainer when he or she is completely stuck. After the 3rtd day is complete then judging by how well the new hire did, we decide if they need one extra day of training, or they are ready to go on their own. Though not often but it has happened a few times where after the 2nd or 3rd day of training either the new hire decided not work anymore or we decided that this person won’t be able to handle this task or the job. Once we know that fact, we do not continue the training, instead we just tell them it will not work while explaining them the reasons we didn;t think they are a good fit for our store.
Appearance is the most important first impression on your customer; you do not get a 2nd chance to create that first impression, so make sure your employees are in uniform of some sort. If you are a branded store like Shell, BP, Chevron or such then you have a uniform that you provide your employees along with name tag, but what if you are a non-branded store? Like a mike’s mini mart, or such, well you can still get some uniform for them, go to your local screen printing store and you can get t-shirts with your logo and name printed on them for a very nominal price. One quick note on that, if you don’t have a logo for your store, you can go online to Fivver.com and pay $5 and get a logo created for you. So no reason not to be professional and making sure your store and employees look just as much professional as branded store employees.
Motivating and empowering your employees
You need to make sure your employees do not feel that this is a dead end job. in order to do so, you need to motivate them. Typically there are three ways that you can motivate your employees.
- By showing them the ladder, they can climb to be a manager one day from the cashier, to shift leader, to shift manager to assistant manager and then finally store manager one day. Let them know that it is possible with hard work and dedication.
- Tell them the way you increase their pay. I typically tell all new hire that I would start them at a certain hourly rate then after 60 days they will get a raise to certain hourly rate and every 6 months I will do a performance review of them and if I see they are performing well, they will get a raise. You can tell them it will be every nine months or every three months; it is totally up to you.
- Another great way to motivate your staff is just simply by telling them they are doing a great job, give them compliment when you see a good work, acknowledge it and show them you noticed. A simple “thank you” a petting on the back can go a long way sometimes. Remember everybody wants to feel appreciated.
Teaching them marketing 101
In this step, your team needs to know your marketing strategy so they can promote your store and certain products. Let me explain, say you have a special on 2 liter soda for 99 cents this month, if you want to promote it, it needs little more than a sign on the back of the store, think if your employee mentioned this to each of the client that this week or this month you have 2 liters for 99 cents, 2 out of 5 customers may buy that, it is that simple. Another example, say you have a 2 pack cigarette special where you give a lighter for free, ask your employees to mention that to anyone buying a single pack of cigarette, see how many of them end up buying 2 packs instead, you will be surprised, more than 50% will go for the 2pk special. The power of face to face marketing can be a very powerful thing.
Rewarding the right behavior
If you see an employee did a great job handling a bad situation at work, or they showed some exceptional quality or ability which is beyond their daily work duties and responsibilities, reward them by at least acknowledge their work or effort. But them lunch or sit down and have lunch with him or her it can mean a lot to them. Give them a gift certificate for a movie or a pizza, anything small like that can make them feel appreciated and proud of being a part of your team.
How to discipline bad behavior
Now let’s face the truth, we don’t always get the best employees, there are bad apples in every bunch right? Now how do you discipline a bad behavior when you see one, it could be not doing their job properly, or giving poor customer service to not doing their side work or even for showing up work late more than once in the same week. Nothing too serious or major.
Let me just say here if you see a truly bad behavior or violation of your company policy by an employee or even subordination where you asked them to perform a duty, and they refuse, these are the grounds for immediate termination and not disciplinary action. But as I mention for minor issues like I mentioned earlier, you can give them a verbal warning first and monitor them to see if there is any improvement, if not you can then give them a written warning, most stores nowadays have these forms of written warning forms where you fill in the action that they took which was not proper or the job that did not perform even after a prior verbal warning. Once you give them a copy of that, ask them to sign it and keep a copy of it in their employment file. I usually terminate an employee if he or she makes the same violation within 30 days of giving them the written warning.
Setting up Target & goal oriented incentives
I do this often in my stores. I set up certain goals and offer incentives if they reach the goal. I am sure you are wondering what and how. I had a store with a car wash, where the carwash prices were set at $2 for basic, $4 for the medium grade wash and $7 for the works the ultimate wash, I set up a plan where every time a cashier sold any of the med level wash they would get $.50 cents and if they sold any $7 wash I would pay them $1 each wash sold. As long as they keep each receipt and sign their name on the ticket. Every week I would pay them. Before this incentive program, my monthly carwash sales were around 2000 a month but once I started it, from very next month, my carwash sales rose to around $3500 to as high as 5400 one month.
You can be very creative when comes to creating an incentive program, but it depends on what you sell in your store, I have done the same with Deli food, where I set up a daily target and a weekly target and if they reached that goal each employee got an incentive pay.
Regular employee meetings and coaching
Lat but not the least, it is very important to have regularly scheduled employee meetings and coaching, meet every month, where you tell them of any upcoming changes in your store, and them ask for any issues they faced that month or any concern they have and this is the time also to roll out any new incentives plan you have for them for the following month. Offer them tips words of encouragement and remind them to greet and make eye contact with each customer, also emphasize the restroom is cleaning regiment and keeping the coffee and fountain areas cleaning regiments.
The book I want to mention today is called Rich Dad Poor Dad By Robert Kiyosaki
It is a New York Times bestseller that sold millions of copies. It has little over 4000 Customer reviews just on Amazon. I am sure you can tell how popular this book really is. Let me just quote from an editor’s review.
“The poor and the middle-class work for money, but the rich have money working for them. ”
It is a great read; I know you will thank me after reading it.
Once again thank you for listening, if you like my podcast, please give me a review on iTunes, which will help me rank better and reach more people that I think can benefit from my content.
If you have any question, please free to ask me via email by going to my blog.
Take good care of yourself and I will talk to you soon