GLENDALE, Ariz. — When we hire new workers, the ideal scenario is for them to do a great job right out of the gate, and that requires some training.
Start with a clear job description that details the skills, duties and responsibilities.
After the job description, I began with safety issues, which are the most important in my mind.
Training someone can be easy but the real trick is getting your rules, policies and procedures into your attendant’s long-term memory.
ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS
During training, ask questions like, “What would you do if a dryer fire broke out?” or “How would you handle an angry customer?”
Open-ended questions require a detailed answer rather than just a yes or a no. You’ll be surprised by some of the answers you’ll receive. Asking in this way forces people to think a little harder and sets you up to give them the best answer if they missed something, further locking that detail in for them.
Never let a new hire feel bad if they get something wrong or can’t remember. It’s all part of their journey to do the best job they can, and let them know you understand that. Just help them out by filling in the blanks if they leave anything out.
And I would ask open-ended questions well after the training period ends, because people do forget. At the end of the day, ask, “So, what did you learn today that was new to you?”
And ask your new hires if they have any suggestions for doing things differently. It’s easier for them to think outside your own little box. For instance, I once received an excellent suggestion from a newbie about folding comforters, then rolling them like a sleeping bag that I used the rest of my career.
CREATING AN EMPLOYEE MANUAL
My employee manual was in ring binder form. I could have made it a PDF for emailing, but I felt that a book that remained in the store was less likely to fall into a competitor’s hands.
It was comprised mostly of the memos I posted over the years, because I too would sometimes forget. (It’s human nature, after all.)
I sectioned it off into two main sections: 1) Service Training and 2) Self-Service Training. Each section had subsections to make it easier for attendants to look something up. There were policies, rules, no-nos, task guidance, protocols, and “what to do if” descriptions.
New hires were required to read it at least once, and I encouraged everyone to reread it from time to time. It makes an excellent reference tool for all employees, especially those who may have forgotten something.
THE POWER OF SLOGANS AND SAYINGS
I like little slogans. They can point us all in a positive direction by reminding us of what can be important. They tend to stay in our long-term memory.
“Do it right the first time, and you won’t have to do it over a second time.”
Here’s another one I said a lot: “Customer complaints are actually a good thing because they alert us to something we are doing wrong while giving us the opportunity to make it right and prevent it from happening again.”
I would follow up by saying, “A complaint gives us another opportunity to turn an angry customer into a happy customer.”
I have one on my computer screen right now that reads, “Today is the tomorrow that we worried about yesterday.” And I think many of you have heard the expression, “Carpe diem,” which is Latin for “Seize the day.”
POST YOUR VISION FOR ALL TO SEE
For at least 30 years, I posted a quote attributed to Hindu nationalist leader and social reformer Mahatma Gandhi in my laundromats for all to see. I felt it set the tone of service I expected of my new hires as well as long-term employees, and reminded all of us about the importance of the customer:
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us, we are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work, he is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business, he is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
By creating a positive training experience that prepares your new hires for most contingencies, you’re positioning your laundry business for greater success.
Miss earlier parts of this column? You can read them here: Part 1 - Part 2
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].