Hire Winners

June 1998


Hire Winners

Follow these seven key strategies to hire top-notch employees

by Orley Solomon

The philosophy of the Bridge family has always been that our associates are the most important ingredient in building a successful organization. The leadership of our company has always come from within, not by hiring people into management from other companies. Therefore our most important job is to hire, train, and improve our personnel at all times. The challenge, then, is to find these people and bring them into the organization.

Hire Nice People
Nice people are everywhere - managing a McDonald's, working as a receptionist at your golf or tennis club, waiting on customers at your favorite restaurant or the cosmetic department at your favorite department store. We've hired people from each of these walks of life, and all have become very successful.

We are complimented daily by our customers regarding our caring sales associates and their desire to "go the extra mile." We're often asked how we train people to be so nice. We don't train them to be nice, we hire nice people and then train them to work in our stores.

Our manager in Anchorage, AK, Regina McDaniels, came out of the restaurant business. When I met her, she greeted me with a wonderful smile. She made great eye contact, was alert, friendly and outgoing. She made my lunch an event with menu suggestions and special service. She also wore nice jewelry. As I finished lunch, I invited her to explore opportunities with our company. She started part-time and soon opted for a full-time career. Her great attitude and enthusiasm make her a winner.

Don't Hire on the Spot
Even if a candidate makes a great first impression, it's not a good idea to hire too quickly. Always have a second interview. Have your assistant manager or one of your key people talk with applicants as well. See how aggressive the candidate is in pursuing the position. If the candidate doesn't follow up within a week, he or she may not follow up with customers.

Don't Accept Mediocrity
One of the biggest mistakes many managers make is settling for mediocrity rather than pursuing excellence. Some managers are tempted to hire someone too quickly to fill the gap of a promoted salesperson. The best managers will work short-handed and fill in the needed time themselves until the right person becomes available. The average cost of a bad hire is $10,000 to $20,000. When you add the salary cost, your time spent in training, lost sales and lowered morale, it's easy to see why mediocrity is a poor solution.

Learn To Interview
One of the most important skills to develop is knowing how to conduct a good job interview. The best predictor of what people will do in the future is how they have behaved in the past. Formulate job-related questions using open-ended questions and build a rapport with your applicant. A few other areas to think about:

  • Does a candidate notice pictures or plaques in your office and offer a complimentary comment?
  • Has the applicant shopped your company to find out what you are about?
  • Does the candidate have an easy smile, firm handshake, good eye contact? Is he or she well groomed, with shined shoes and nice jewelry?
  • Know what questions are illegal in your state.
  • Did the candidate send a thank-you note after the interview? It's a sign the person will follow up with customers.
  • Body language gives you a good idea of personality.

Learn to Network and Recruit
One way to tap in to a rich resource of potential employees is to get involved with your local high school or college marketing programs. Most high schools have a career center, and you can make yourself available as a guest speaker during a Career Day, which most high schools sponsor annually.

Look for chapters of the Distributive Education Clubs of America and Future Business Leaders of America programs, which enroll high school students interested specifically in business and marketing. By allying your business with these groups, you'll offer a service to young people and to the high schools by providing information about career opportunities in the jewelry industry. (These young people can also be the lifeblood of your wedding-set business.)

Always be on the lookout for winners. You'll find them among friends and relatives of your associates. It pays to know key people in community colleges, to attend trade fairs and to network with local organizations such as the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. These people are a great source for good potential employees. Constantly recruit. Have good people "on tap" for the time when the inevitable opening occurs.

Get Engaged
When starting with a new associate, make it possible for either of you to end the work relationship without hard feelings. You will know within 90 days whether you have a great hire or not. Most experienced managers can tell in half the time. To make the new hire understand that this probationary period benefits both parties, try stating it like this: "I think you'll love this business. If you don't like what you're doing or the people you're working with, you'll know within 90 days. And it's the same for me. So let's just think of this as an engagement for 90 days and not a wedding, OK?"

Get 'Em Off to a Good Start
You must set the tone, and the employees must know your high expectations. The first two days are the most important with your new hire. You must personally show, teach and give feedback while encouraging questions. Get new employees started in the educational process of the jewelry profession. Encourage them to observe and learn from the other associates and later introduce them to the Gemological Institute of America correspondence courses.

Orley Solomon is considered the dean of American jewelry store sales trainers and educators. He was honored in March by the American Gem Society with its Robert Shipley award, given each year to honor high achievement in the jewelry industry.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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