By Jeff Sheets
5 biggest obstacles
OPE dealers face and
how to overcome them
Good employees are the biggest assets of any company. However, finding and hiring the right people can be difficult for most small businesses due to some unique challenges. Having helped countless outdoor power equipment dealers recruit and hire new employees, I’ve observed the following five obstacles that they face during the hiring process and offer you possible solutions for overcoming them:
#1 Writing effective job descriptions
* The obstacle: No written job descriptions and no real analysis have been done of what type of employees are needed prior to having openings in your business.
* Possible solutions: Complete a written job description, which lists all the duties, that you can hand to a potential candidate. Be sure it includes how often the duties are to be performed, listing them under daily, weekly, monthly and yearly headings. You must have the job descriptions readily available and updated as often as possible. I would suggest looking at them annually to see if any job functions have changed for the position. I’m also a believer in employment testing to find what key attitudes a good employee has for each position. Use your best current employees to set the standard by having them take tests. You can then use those qualities as a way to screen potential candidates by having them take the tests as well. The closer they come to matching the standard, the greater confidence you will have that they are the right person for the job. I like Gallup’s StrengthsFinders Test as I have suggested in previous articles.
#2 Finding and recruiting the right people
* The obstacle: Small businesses lack the ability or resources to reach a large group of candidates. Posting a “Help Wanted” sign in the window does not equal a good recruiting process. Job listings online can also get lost in a large pool of available positions.
* Possible solutions: Actively search for people you’d like to recruit on social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn. If you have a website, then post the job opening there and link it to your social media sites too. Get your employees in on the process and give them a bonus if they recommend someone that ends up being hired and working with the company for a set period of time (e.g. minimum of 90 days). Oftentimes, your current employees serve as your best resources for finding a new one. They know who they would like to work with and can give their seal of approval by referring them.
#3 Lack of time to recruit and hire
* The obstacle: It will come as no surprise to most of you that many business owners simply don’t have the time or resources to find the best candidates.
* Possible solutions: Get someone else who you trust on your staff involved in looking over the resumes/applications. Have them sort through all the applications and resumes, and then present you with the best options.
Use recruitment software. You can’t fully automate the recruiting and hiring process, but software can make it a lot more manageable. Using recruiting services is another idea, but you must have extreme confidence that the recruiter understands what candidates you are looking for. Otherwise, you can get overwhelmed with the wrong type of applicants.
Take your time. I know you want to fill your job openings as soon as possible, but it’s smart to take it slow. Once you’ve identified the best possible candidates, don’t rush the interview or decision process. Getting the right person is one of the most important decisions that you can make for your business.
#4 Lower wages than other businesses
* The obstacle: Small businesses generally have a smaller profit margin than large companies, which can lead to employees being paid less than they might be in a comparable position at a different company.
* Possible solutions: Find out what the industry standard is for that particular position through research, and use it as a guide. You might not need to pay employees the top wage, but you should at least pay them your market rate. Be sure to emphasize the advantages of working at your business. Maybe more flexible hours or the opportunity to be off around the holidays might be advantageous. You can also sell the “family atmosphere” of working in a small business. The potential hire would not be just “a number,” but a person who matters to the business. You sell a product or a service all the time, so selling the opportunity to work for you is important too.
#5 The pressure of making the right decision
* The obstacle: When a new hire just doesn’t work out or quits shortly after starting, all of the time and resources devoted toward their recruitment, hiring and training essentially amounts to nothing. This happens in both large and small businesses, but smaller companies tend to be hit much harder by it because it means more time and money will need to be invested toward finding a new candidate.
* Possible solutions: There is no way to be 100-percent certain that a new hire will represent a significant return on your investment. Thus, it’s critical to select an applicant who truly seems like the right fit for the job. Think about the kind of values that you want your company to represent, and choose someone who shares those values — they’ll likely mesh better with their new coworkers and environment.
Asking good questions in your interview is key. “Why do you want to work with us?” is a good question. I also like the question, “What motivated you to apply for this position?” If you can get those questions answered and make comparisons between your candidates, then the one with the best responses will be your candidate. At this point, you are really assessing how you feel about each candidate. The best thing that you can do is not have preconceived notions of the person you are looking for, and let the person who fits the profile and answers the questions the best be the candidate.
The employee recruitment and hiring process is a difficult one. In a small business, it can make or break a company. You need to put forth the time and effort it deserves and try not to do it too haphazardly. Your reputation as a company is based a lot on the employees that work for you and how they interact with customers. I like what Stephen Covey has to say about hiring: “If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external.” These are the type of people you are looking to hire! You need passionate people who work because they like the challenge, not because they need a paycheck. If you can find passionate people to work for you, then your business will be better for it. Once you find them, do your best to never let them go either. Pay them well and help them grow as your business grows.
Jeff Sheets is the founder and owner of OPE Consulting Services. Whether a business is thriving or struggling to survive, Sheets’ rich experience in both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors allows him to partner with business owners to customize unique strategies for their needs. For the past 11 years, he has worked extensively with hundreds of outdoor power equipment dealers to create best practices in business structure, personnel management and financial profitability. For more information, he may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (816) 260-5430. You can also follow him on Twitter @opeconsult, connect with him on LinkedIn, and visit his website at www.opeconsultingservices.com.