Most service business owners have a story that goes something like this:
This can be a vicious cycle – three steps forward, two steps back. You get buried in work you had to take back and do yourself. Before long, new growth opportunities may no longer seem exciting—instead, they create a sense of fear that it will only mean more work on your shoulders.
Leaders who stay in this cycle too long start to feel stuck. Your business starts to feel like a J-O-B that is more work and less pay than you had when you worked for someone else.
I’m convinced this is the most common reason leaders of service businesses are unable to grow beyond a certain level.
If your business is anything like mine, then it works like this: To grow your sales, you need to serve your customers exceptionally well. But to serve your customers exceptionally well at scale, you need exceptional workers.
I happen to believe that there are more than enough people who have what it takes to become exceptional workers in your business.
Yes, I am aware that employers in the Midwest are reporting a shortage of skilled workers. Yes, I am aware there are a lot of young people who don’t seem to know how to work. Yes, I am aware there is a growing drug epidemic which makes some people unemployable.
Nonetheless, the exceptional workers you need ARE out there. And guess what? They feel stuck too. They have more to give but never get the chance in their jobs. They feel disrespected and untrusted by their bosses. They don’t see a greater sense of purpose in their work, and they are looking for something they can rally behind.
Attracting and keeping great workers has three basic parts:
RECRUIT: You need a plan to get the attention of the right workers, to compel them to apply for your jobs, and to hire the right person.
RETAIN: When you get the right people, you want them ALL IN. You don’t want to worry they’ll jump somewhere else next year.
REFER: You need a way to move those great people on your team to refer more of the right people.
All three parts work together and are essential to your success. The rest of this article talks about recruiting; part two will cover retain and refer.
Most hiring efforts fail because employers attract the wrong pool of applicants in the first place. If you attract 25 of the wrong people to apply for your job and carefully hire the best of the bunch, you still just hired the wrong person. You need a plan to recruit the right people, and this requires a completely different approach.
I’ve noticed that more than a few small business owners have a mindset that says, “I’m giving them my money, so they’ll be lucky to work here.” But remember one thing. That employee is giving you half of their life’s waking hours working for you—and time is the most precious thing we have. They are giving you something incredibly valuable, and money is just what you can offer in exchange. Shift this mindset in your business, and you’ll attract a better pool of applicants. Retention will be much better, too.
How can your available job affect their time, their money, their freedom, their sense of adventure, how good they look to others, their sense of security, belonging, and inner peace? Figure out how you can appeal to them in one or more of these areas. HINT: At the end of this article, I’ll link you to a worksheet that’s a great shortcut to help you get this right.
Advertising isn’t just to reach customers. Your “Now Hiring” ads can make you look good to customers, too. You’ll show that you value hiring the right people, and that’s good for everybody.
As you start to attract better applicants, you need a way to filter out the wrong people and zero in on the very best candidate. Develop a multi-step process that helps you narrow down the list to the very best.
At Spire, we have a 10-step hiring process that looks like this:
We designed a 7-step semi-automated hiring process for clients that employ blue-collar service workers—it looks like this:
Make sure some of the steps test applicants’ attention to detail… if they cut corners in the hiring process, what will they do on the job? Each step of your hiring process should help you DISQUALIFY candidates, so that you can narrow it down to 1-3 great choices.
You know how important it is to hire great workers. If you can’t find enough, it’s probably holding back your growth. In part two, I’ll talk about retaining the great workers you have and how to get people lining up to work for you with a simple but irresistible employee referral program.
Download a 1-page worksheet to appeal to the right people and recruit great workers. This 1-page worksheet will help you brainstorm about how to attract better people by focusing on nine proven areas that will motivate them to consider a change.