GLENDALE, Ariz. — Your employees are literally the “face” of your business, and can make or break it. So naturally, you want to hire the friendliest employees who offer quick service with a smile. Employees who are honest, reliable, hard-working. People who have high integrity. Easier said than done. But it all starts with the hiring.
THE BARTENDER EFFECT
Since your employees will be dealing with your customers, you want them to be likable. So, look for people who have a natural tendency to smile. Smiles are universal in every language and make people feel good. Customers who feel good about your crew will be much more likely to return. The opposite is true if they are turned off by a sourpuss crew member.
Many customers are regulars who will develop relationships with your crew members. They will come in and talk about their lives with your crew, just looking for conversation, or they may simply need a friend.
I found that my most popular employees were the ones who just smiled, asked an occasional question, and listened … just like a good bartender or barber.
CLEARLY EXPLAIN YOUR CREW’S DUTIES
In order for your crew to do a great job, they must know what it is that you expect of them. Make a list of do’s and don’ts. Make sure they know what behaviors and tasks you are looking for and what behaviors and actions you don’t accept.
Examples of do’s: Smile. Be friendly. Be helpful, especially to new customers. Wipe down the machines every hour, or as needed. Always show up on time. Do your best, by working quickly and with good quality. Leave the store spotless for the next shift.
Examples of don’ts (some can be separated into behaviors that can result in immediate dismissal): Leaving customers waiting. Arguing with a customer. Calling in sick at the last moment too many times. Showing up late too many times. Showing up intoxicated. “Borrowing money” from the cash register. Bringing in non-customer friends to fraternize. Sabotaging another worker’s laundry. Leaving the store dirty. Stealing anything that doesn’t belong to them.
These don’ts should go without saying but you must have them in writing so your position is crystal clear. If your list of expectations is typed and posted, there will be no argument as to what you expect, and what you don’t expect. It’s clear, in black and white.
POST EMPLOYEE PHOTOS WITH NAMES
We had personal name tags for our workers to wear but they would often become lost, so we posted an “employee board” with their names and photos. Such a board is useful in helping drop-off customers identify which crew member(s) they prefer to do their laundry. Their photos are on the board 24/7, whether they’re on duty or not.
“I want the woman with the long black hair to do my laundry,” a customer once said to me, and I replied, “Well, we have five women working here with long black hair. Can you look at the employee photo board to see if you can spot her?”
Your good employees will like the board because it tends to encourage tips. Your bad ones will be uncomfortable with the board because it helps to identify those who give customers bad service. It’s helpful for customers to identify an employee who has treated them badly, which tends to keep bad behavior in check.
KEEP AN EMPLOYEE MANUAL
An employee manual is a must, in my opinion. It’s a great teaching tool for new workers to learn everything about their new job without you or your manager using up time to explain everything. It should not replace a personal training period. Instead, use it to enhance your training.
It’s in print, so the visual effect tends to stay in long-term memory. Keep it handy in the store so everyone can go back to it for reference.
Your manual should also describe the handling of all safety measures. For example, it’s a good idea to review how to handle a dryer fire with your crew every six months. You don’t want anyone freezing up like a deer in the headlights when an emergency happens.
I used to post memos behind the counter to alert employees to policy changes, new ideas, tips on how to do something better, how to handle machine issues, how to handle customer complaints (an opportunity to win over a customer again), and more. These memos were slipped into sheet protectors inside a three-ring binder and tabbed by category.
These days, sharp operators issue memos as group texts to employee cell phones, an excellent technique. You could then copy/paste your memos into a virtual binder.
STAY ORGANIZED WITH A FILE ON EACH EMPLOYEE
Start with a copy of the same photo that’s on your employee board. Include all government hiring documents, such as W-4, I-9, etc., for that employee.
Don’t forget to fill out the proper legal forms for all workers; there are resources online that can help guide you, such as The Balance Small Business.
Along with an employee’s documents, include a progress file to record any information from their job reviews.
Hiring great employees will lower turnover to allow you to spend more time on actually running your mat.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].